Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lots of nakie man bum

I meant to get this up a few weeks ago, but it’s been busy back at work. Recently a second wave of the pigflu has quarantined many of my students in their houses, so I’m finally free to sit down and write this.

Recently there was a huge sumo tournament in Tokyo to which Adam and I bought tickets. The tournament lasts all day, with the lower level matches beginning in the morning and running until the serious wrestlers go at it in the late afternoon. We got there in the morning and played spot-the-sumo in the area around the stadium. This is super fun because all the wrestlers are out doing normal people things like eating lunch and riding bikes and shopping. And they’re easy to spot since they all have a traditional waxed hairstyle. (And easy to spot for other, more obvious reasons.)

Mid-day we left to visit a Parasite Museum. It was cool, but very misleading. I won’t go into details, but Adam and I walked out of the place under the false impression that tiny fish could live inside your liver, and crabs could live inside your heart. We later googled ‘liver fluke’ and ‘heart crab’ to no avail and promptly realized how stupid we really were. I blamed the museum for lying to us and maintained a dignified silence on the train back to the sumo tournament.

Anyway, we went back to see the oozeki and yokozunas, the top ranked players in Japan. There are a surprising number of foreign sumo wrestlers, and in fact, the two highest ranked wrestlers are Mongolian. We sat a few levels up from the action, but people can buy Japanese style seating right next to the ring (really just cushions on the floor) for outrageous prices. These usually go to impetuous old farts who are known to have mantrums and throw their cushions at the wrestlers during lacklustre matches (because old people can get away with whatever they want in Japan.) What’s funny is that Sumo isn’t just a fat man’s sport. We saw lots of Marvin the Martian vs. Mongo matches, and it wasn’t always a win for the bigger guy. It would seem that being a good sumo wrestler has qualifiers other than ‘be gigantic and push people around.’

Though this guy never got the memo:

Oh and we got to see the Emperor of Japan. He and the Empress came to watch some Sumo too, only they had much better seating than us and were accompanied by some shifty eyed suited types.

In other news, you’ll be interested to know that the Tokyo Metro Railway Company puts out a series of ‘do it at home’ posters featuring various impolitenesses, reminding Tokyoites to mind their manners when riding the subway. These are apparently necessary because Japan sans public service posters detailing embarrassing social faux-pas is a Japan with no discernable moral compass…? Some of them are quite funny, and here are a couple of my favourites.

Here's a spoof I thought was pretty funny:

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