Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Power struggle

The Power struggle
Originally uploaded by rohidas_gaonkar
Sumo, the traditional sport of Japan.

I always thought Japan as a land of pagodas and Sumos. Even WWF I used see in childhood had a Yokozuna in it.

I always thought Yokozuna was a person.
I always adored the strength of these mighty creatures.
I always wanted to see one by my own eyes.

So when Jason, my friend from Hongkong, now a student at a Waseda university asked me to join for Sumo tournament, I jumped up to say, "Yes, I am coming!".

The day dawned, the first day of Tokyo Sumo tournament. Lonely planet guide says that one has be at the ticket window early morning. So Jason and I reached Ryogoku at 6:30 itself. We were 10th in the line. By 7:30 the line grew to 150 something. Still 200 tickets would remain unclaimed, I thought to myself.

The tournament first day started at 8:15 AM and went on till 6 PM in the evening. So we were present to see the first game of the season.

The Ryogoku hall was really a big indoor stadium. It was still time for people to come. The house was hardly filled. The initial fights were among budding sumos also known as Maegashira, so these had very less spectators.

We tried getting few snaps up close from the ring and wing before the stadium starts ed to fill. The fights didn't last any longer than 30-40 secs. The opponents would come in from west and east wings, do a traditional bow to each other, do some sumo exercise, stretch legs, stomped on the ground and other exercises. the fights lasted lesser than the time they spent doing this formality.

Soon it was lunch time. It was time to try the sumo food. It was not more than a stew of vegetables and chicken meat. It was not delicious but surely was nutritious. It cost 200 Yen per bowl. I had three of it. The real matches began after 2 pm. It was Juryo sumos who were arriving at the ring now. These sumos are higher in the rank. So they had the right to throw salt over the ring with a belief to purify it.

Salt throwing

It was a full house by now. The fights grew over to 30 seconds, some longing to mins. The sumos we saw in there were now tougher and experienced.

Full Stadium

By 4 PM its time for the Yokozunas to come in. For the first time in my life I understood, Yokozuna is not a person but a title.

Yokozuna Dance

The Yokozuna ceremonial dance was followed by the Yokozuna fights. Many sumos of the rank Yokozuna fought for the title. The tournament was going to run for 2 more weeks.
The Experts

The stadium was buzzing with sumo fans. Some cheering their favorites. In the end after as the last fight ended jubilant crowd went berserk as the reigning Yokozuna suffered a shocking defeat on the first day of the tournament.

They expressed their surprise by hurling pillows they were sitting some time back, towards the ring.

Let us throw the Pillow. My Yokozuna won!

By the time I completed this entry Kotooshu the sumo of Bulgarian origin has claimed the Tokyo Sumo championship.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Learning to Ski

Niigata, Japan.
30 December 2007.

It's winter in Japan . These days ski is a favorite sport here.
Some of my office colleagues say Snowboarding is for beginners but I went ahead with skiing.

Me and my friends took the JR package for Kagura, a Ski resort in Niigata perfecture near Tokyo.The travel was by Shinkansen two way. It was always my dream to play with plenty of snow. Today it was about to get fulfil!!

We boarded the Shinkansen at Tokyo station early morning and reached Niigata by 9 AM. A further travel by bus and there we were, standing in front of the resort. It was snowing. To get to the top of the Mountain we need to board a lift to the top.

Up there is another lift system called Gandola.
The skiers have to get in it and reach the top to start the descend.

I learnt a few basics and started my descend with Suhas, my friend and ski teacher.
Skiing is like cycling, balancing is the key.

We fell several times while trying to get the balance right. The next lesson is how to propel oneself on a plain surface.

Next is to brake the motion; learning to brake is utmost important considering the speed that is involved in this sport. Once these basics are set right, the only thing to keep in mind is not to get carried away and let the feeling soak in.

Once comfortable with the gear, relax and enjoi the speed, Fast and Furious!!!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Snowy Day in Tokyo, My first experience

"After about two years it snowed in Tokyo", residents of Tokyo said so about the snowfall today.This was the first snowfall i experienced in Tokyo. The Maman at Mori towers Roppongi was snowclad.
The snowflakes were looked like cotton falling from the heavens. It was pleasure to feel the softness of the season's first snow. It felt nice.

I Loved the weather today!!!Wished it would snow the entire day!!!

Maman under little snow

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Tokyo, Japan.
14 January 2008.

One of the insteresting japanese festivals, is the Coming-Of-Age-Day.
Its celebrated on 2nd monday of January every year.
Young boys and girls who have completed 20 years from the April last year or will be 20 by start of april this year participate in this.
This is the day when they can have alcohol and smoke legally , have voting rights and considered adult.
My tour for the day covered Meiji Jingu at harajuku and Sensoji at Asakusa.

These two girls I saw at Meiji jingu.
Traditional Kimono.


Traditional wear, Kimono.

It was a pleasant site to see these youngsters accompanied with their elderly people visiting shrines in Kimonos.

Then at the Asakusa, Sensoji shrine I saw these strangely dressed girls.
They were wearing fox or cat masks on their back-side and shoes with a high heel in the middle of the sole!!

These shoes are called Tengu Geta. I could not know anything about the mask.

Have a look at these girls in that outfit:-
Traditional Footwear.

The other attractions at Sensoji was the shopping street as usual which lies between the two gates at Sensoji. The decoration was special on that day.
Asakusa street.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

कामीकोची कि हसीं वादियाँ

कामीकोची, जपान।

अक्तूबर २००७।

Kamikochi, Japan.

October, 2007.

Tashihiro Pond...

धरती पर कही स्वर्ग है तो बस यही है। यही है। यही है।
टोकियो के नजदीक नागानो मी कमिकोची नामक पर्यटक स्थल है।
पतझड़ के मौसम मे काफी पयर्टक जापानी और विदेशी यह आते है।
पतझड़ मे यह के जंगल मानो नए बसंती वस्त्र पहन लेते है।
The Forest Path towards Miyojin Pond.
जापानी इन पाटों को कोयो कहते है।

टोकियो से कमिकोची ३ घंटे कि दुरी पर है।
शिन्जुकू से मतुमोतो एक्सप्रेस आपको ४ हजार ये में मत्सुमोतो ले जाती है। वहाँ से लोकल ट्रेन से शिन-शिमाशिमा स्टेशन जाती है। शिन-शिमाशिमा से आप bas से कमिकोची जा सकते है।

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Its a HaPpY NeW YeaR!!!

Finally new year is here!
Welcome all to 2007!

The following is the chain of illuminations done here in Tokyo on the ocassion of New Year and christmas.


There was this huge christmas tree at Odaiba koen. You can see the Rainbow bridge in the background. It is like the Manhattan bridge in New York. It connects the man made Odaiba island with the main land of Tokyo. The Tokyo tower, replica of the famous Eiffel tower(its taller by 33 meters though) can be seen as a tiny orange speck behind the Rainbow bridge.

This was taken from the Decks, the shopping mall on the island.

Shinjuku Southern Terrace lights

Ebisu Garden Place

Ebisu Garden Place has a very nice architecture.

Its a shopping mall with an Château look. It has a variety of international brands like Armani Jeans in there.

It holds a Ebisu Beer museum and a Photography museum as well. The illumination was subtle.

Hibiya Park, Fantasia


Japanese people visit shrines on the occasion on New year.

The custom is to ring the bells at shrine 108 time. They say it cleanses off the soul from bad ideas. Japanese also purchase a new paper arrow from shrines called hamaya.
These they believe absorbs all the bad luck that comes to you and thus protects you.
They burn the old hamaya at the shrines before they purchase a new one there.
The custom is similiar to the Limbu-Mirchi custom we have back in India.
These are few shrines I visited on the occasion of New year.

Mieji Jingu Shrine, Harajuku

Hamamatsuchu Shrine

Hie Jinja

Toyokawa Inari Shrine