Sunday, August 02, 2009

World Cosplay Summit 2009 in Nagoya

This will be my last post from Nagoya,Japan.Im heading home tomorrow Monday after arriving here 10 years ago.I leave with mixed feelings which i'll try to explain once Im settled back home in New Zealand and had time to collect my thoughts.

For now though I'll end on one of the highlights of the local Osu Kannon Summer Festival.
The World Cosplay Summit have for the last few years since 2005 held a parade through the shopping arcade.Each year more and more competitors from around the world and local cosplayers take part in the parade.Each year it attracts more spectators and bigger crowds that watch the hour long or so parade through the malls streets.

The weather over the last week or so has been typically rainy season in nature.Very humid and intermittent downpours.In fact yesterday the rain pelted down earlier in the day.I thought the parade might be cancelled due to the inclement weather however it cleared sufficently for the parade to be held as scheduled starting at 3:30pm.

While it remained very humid the dull leaden grey skies above seemed to act as a backdrop to the very colourful costumes on display.Some of them were very detailed and obviously some deal of time and attention had gone into them.

As with past parades Ive been to the cosplayers are more than willing to pose for photos and talk with spectators.

The two cosplayers above came from Brazil and were among some of the 15 different countries competitors at the Summit including Australia,China,Italy and Korea amongst others.

After the Parade on Saturday theres a further event next day ie Sunday at Oasis 21 in Sakae where the Cosplay Championship takes place.The winners over the last 2 years have come from Brazil.

Endoji Tanabata Matsuri 2009

Once again the annual festival was held at Endoji Arcade not far from the Nagoya International Centre Building.

From July 29th through August 2nd this quaint,quiet arcade is covered with traditional tanabata decorations and huge paper mache floats hung from the roof of the covered arcade.

There were a variety of paper mache floats on display ranging from fish and manga characters to the local Dragons baseball mascots and cartoon characters.

The mall was crowded with kids on their summer break busy drawing their favourite floats while a number of stalls were also set up selling the usual summer festival fare such as hotdogs and choco bananas.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 July Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament

The annual Grand Sumo Tournament held in Nagoya every July ended last Sunday after 15 days of bouts.
The winner of the tournament this year was yokozunza Hakuho who finished with a 14 win 1 loss record.

Some of the more prominent and popular wrestlers receive sponsorship.The sponsors banners are paraded round the ring before each of the wrestlers bouts.A variety of companies and firms provide sponsorship including the hamburger chain Makudonarudo,known elsewhere around the world as McDonalds.

The judges and referee sometimes confer in the middle of the ring after a bout where its difficult to see which wrestler won the bout.In such instances one wrestler is usually awarded the win or if a clear decision isnt possible then the wrestlers will have another match.

One of the bentos available at the sumo tournament.There are a number of stalls selling bentos and a variety of food,drinks and souvenirs.Some of the more expensive seats include bentos and drinks in their price.A cheaper alternative is to purchase a 300yen bowl of chanko nabe which was served up to long queues of spectators each day from 1pm.

One of the lower ranked wrestlers awaits his turn to compete.Despite their apparent size and bulk many of the wrestlers are surprisingly nimble and flexible.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Haagen Dazs Sorbets

My battered Oxford dictionary defines the word sorbet as "a water ice".To my mind these two recent additions to the Haagen Dazs range are thicker and less watery than I imagine sorbets.I associate "sorbet" more with something like kakigori a Japanese summertime staple of shaved ice covered with various toppings.
Not that the thicker density is unwelcome because each sorbet comes in a 100ml tub 20 ml less than the usual ice flavours.

The pear sorbet was quite sweet and definitely tasted of pear.As it melted in the heat a thin clear syrup formed on the surface which again tasted of pear.It had a clean refreshing taste and I think I would try it again in the future.

The raspberry sorbet seemed a little more watery and icy than the pear one but was still quite dense and more resistant to the spoon than I imagined a typical sorbet to be.As with the pear sorbet this raspberry one also tasted of fruit and in this case also smelled strongly of raspberry.Again as with the pear sorbet a thin syrup congealed on the surface as the contents melted and I will probably try it again.
Of the two sorbets Id probably go for the pear one more than the raspberry flavour mainly due it being a less common flavour.
Both sorbets came in a 100ml tub and cost around 228yen depending where you purchase them.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lets Go Home....

Im in the midst of leaving Japan and moving back home.
Hence the long break between posts.
Having resigned from work ive been busy making preparations to leave by the end of July.
Arranging to get my possessions back home or sold.Arranging the electricity,gas and water to be disconnected and the accounts closed.
Arranging for my apartment to be inspected so I can claim back some of the deposit.
Arranging airplane tickets and travel.Arranging final visits and farewells.
Arranging to get tickets to the grand sumo tournament that starts this Sunday in Nagoya..
The following photos below come from one of the practice venues dotted around Nagoya.

This particular beya or stable training venue was near Ichinomiya about a 45 minute train ride from Kanayama station.It was set up in the grounds of a small kindergarten.In fact the early morning high pitched chatter of the pre-schoolers was in stark contrast to the dull thud and thumping of the wrestlers as they practiced their moves and charges.

There were three higher ranked wrestlers at this stable.They can be distinguished by the fact that they wear white or lighter shaded loincloths.They also start their routines later than the lower ranked wrestlers who begin around 7am.
We arrived about 7:45 am to find a small crowd had already gathered.This crowd swelled as the morning progressed.Parents dropped their offspring off at the adjacent kindergarten.Jostling,elbowing elderly Japanese men and women tried to burrow their way through those who had arrived earlier to get a better view of the proceedings.

The heat and humidity built up as the wrestlers exercised.The practice formally ended at around 10:30am so it was a long and strength sapping session.

The coaches and stable masters offered advice and encouragement to the wrestlers as they grew tired and weary.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Dont the Sun look angry through the trees..Dont the trees look like crucified thieves"

from Desperados under the Warren Zevon

I thought of these words from Warren Zevons album "A Quiet Normal Life"as the trees outside my apartment building were removed over the last two weeks.Twenty four trees,twelve each side of the large intersection on Route 19 have been unceremoniously lopped,topped and extracted from the centre island of the road.

Their removal will allow the construction of traffic turning lanes into the intersection to take place.

There was nothing particularly outstanding about these specimens.Just your uncommon urban tree.
They were functional.A touch of greenery one could gaze down on.They provided nests and perches for birds.They were homes to the seasonal cicadas that broadcast their raspy metallic beat from their boughs every early summer.
They were a barrier against the constant grind of traffic noise.A filter against the fumes and filth that blackened their limbs.

I for one will miss them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Postage Stamps

Some recently issued stamps featuring various flowers common at this time of year including cherry blossoms and tulips.

Two cherry blossom trees in the grounds of a small local shrine.The weather was almost summer like today,reaching the high 20s and relatively clear.Some of the earlier flowering varieties have virtually finished flowering and now wear a fresh green mantle of foilage.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Flash...Grape KitKats

I received this presentation or gift pack of grape flavoured KitKats recently.I hadnt seen them before so presume they are regional variations using local produce.This pack Im told came from Nagano Prefecture.

Upon opening the box you find the contents consist of 12 packs of twin mini bars.The wrappers are purple and black.The KitKats themselves taste of purple or black grapes and are encased in dark brown chocolate.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Food Prices and Increases

Food prices seem to have been on the rise recently.Or maybe Ive just been more aware of it since my new reduced contract came into force from the start of the month.
Seems there are at least two methods being employed to pass on increases to consumers and customers.
The first and most obvious is the straight price increase.Exhibit number one is the small bag of shredded cabbage in the shot above on the left hand side.Last week 100 yen.This week 108 yen.Same amount just an 8 percent increase if my math is correct.
The second method is to charge the same price but reduce the contents.I draw your attention to exhibit 2 above.The packet of coffee to the right of the cabbage.Last week a 150 gram pack cost 478 yen.This week the contents have been reduced to 130 grams.Same price 478 yen but 20 grams lighter.
I need to cut back on my coffee consumption so now i've got a ready made excuse to do so.
Then again in an attempt to avoid price hikes some companies are using cheaper ingredients in their food items substituting cheaper ones instead of increasing their prices.

New Haagen Dazs Ice Cream

This newcomer with its banana and chocolate and cookie ingredients seems to have all the required food groups within its mini cup.Theres a distinct banana presence as soon as you peel back the plastic cover revealing the grainy brown surface embedded with pieces of cookie and softened with melting chocolate sauce.
Id suggest waiting a few minutes after getting the ice cream from the freezer.This will give an opportunity for the contents to melt and allow the chocolate sauce within to blend with the harder cookie pieces.Definitely worth a try.

Monday, March 30, 2009


It being Spring and all,the primary seasonal colour is naturally pink.Be it on advertising hoardings,clothes,or desserts pink is everywhere.

If you look carefully above one can discern a small cherry petal to the left of the strawberry in this dessert.Again the main colour is a resounding pink.There is a clear gelatine like layer under which the aforesaid cherry blossom is embedded.Below this is a layer of custard.

Across from my apartment block in Osu Kannon there is a small tree bearing an unusual combination of blossoms.

As well as blooms that are a standard ordinary dark red colour the tree also has flowers that are white with a dash of pink in them.The white and pink stippled blossoms contrast with the no nonsense red blooms.Set against a clear blue sky such as we got today the effect is quite striking.Im pleased to say I wasnt the only passerby who stopped to snap a photo and admire its short-lived beauty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Windy Spring Day

Very windy today.Hats flying.Bicyles upended.People leaning at 45 degrees into the face of gale force gusts that ambush them as they head round the sides of buildings.The barely opened cherry blossoms and magnolia blooms took a battering from the winds today after enduring a miserable grey wet day yesterday.
Up in Tokyo a FedEx cargo plane crash-landed and flipped.Judging from the film of the landing and speculation on NHK it seems wind shear had a part to play in the accident.

I saw this new Haagen Dazs flavour recently.Green tea latte.I found it pretty bland.The green tea flavour isnt strong enough to overcome the accompanying vanilla tasting ice cream which nullifies its strength.An uneasy mix which I wont be trying again.

A couple of Hello Kitty bottles that I spotted in the Sanrio shop the other day amid the pink decor and other Hello Kitty merchandise.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Flash..A Few More Flower Photos

A few more shots from last weeks Flower Dome held at Nagoya Dome.

Another shot of one of the bigger orchid displays.

A floral umbrella using ferns and colourful pansy flowers.

A planter made from a canvas bag with some nicely shaded flowers.

A topiary horse feature made from ivy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Flower Dome 2009

Once again Nagoya Dome,home of the Chunichi Dragons baseball team,was the venue for this years Flower Dome.Apparently its the largest annual show of its kind in Japan.It would be hard to argue against this assertion if the size of the crowds are any indication.

Even though I got there shortly after the gates opened at 9:30am there were already a large number of people crowding the exhibits and the walkways between the various display sections.The crowds multiplied steadily throughout the morning making it increasingly difficult to get a good view of all the plants and flowers on display.The fact that it was a sunny Sunday must have helped draw the throngs.It may have been quieter and more accessible during the weekdays.

As was the case last year there were different competitions and exhibits open to companies,professional designers and individuals.
As well as stands of individual plants such as orchids there were displays of tableware,paintings that used plants and flowers as well as paper flower creations and even lead glass based flower products.
The number of commercial stands seemed to have increased.There was a South African tourist promotion stand complete with a small garden of native plants.

One of the more popular stands was the eco food display.Tomatoes grown over a trellis provided the entrance to the exhibit while vegetables grown using "green" methods such as this basket of tomatoes attracted many "ohs" and "ahs".

There were several spectacular displays of orchids.One had orchids hanging in pots,while another had the orchids suspended from a fishing net which was an original space saving idea.
A few of the larger orchid displays such as the one above had streams and waterfalls incorporated into their landscape.
Flower Dome 2009 runs from March 12 to March 18th.Admission for adults was 1,800yen at the door.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flash..A Few More Auto Trend 2009 shots

A few more shots from last weeks Auto Trend 2009 show in Nagoya.

One of a number of highly customised Hummers on display.This one had expensive interior fittings and a huge stereo system.The paint work shone like glass.

Another photo of a set of models who drew hordes of admirers vying for a photo or an autograph.

A nicely finished and detailed Mini.There are a number of kits available to accessorise and customise these cars such as bumper bars,muffler sets and various audio and video equipment options.

This model was standing near one of the audio stands.