Rachel in Tokyo

This is a blog about an American law school student studying in Tokyo for the semester.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fool's Pool!

We played "fool's pool", where certain "amendments" were made to the normal rules of pool play, per Yossi's instructions. None of us wanted to argue with the GC of Apple though! I'm afraid my negotiation skills are not at his level. Besides, the newly agreed-to rules worked in my favor anyway! Not to mention Kaori's favor, Tomoko's favor, Akemi's favor and Mutsuko's favor, as we are all amateurs in the sport.

In "pool's fools", we are allowed to put the queue ball anywhere on the table if another player scratches. On our particular table, in fact, hitting the eight ball in before it's due did not actually lose you the game, just your turn. And yet, one final obvious observation was the fact that the "helper sticks" get used a little more in Japan than in the United States, due to the mere fact that Japanese people are just plain smaller than Americans, and thus, they cannot reach as far on the pool table. (It's so cute!)

Tomoko just made a shot!
Kaori didn't realize I was so camera-happy that night. We definitely had a good time!

Going out with friends. What could be better? Here is my new friend KAT. Actually, he said I could call him "Kat", after I demolished his given name 4 or 5 times.

MAGIC! The Magician! One of Yossi's friends was a magician! He was fantastic! He performed a 30 minute magic show for us and he was great!

Out in Ogikubo. My friend Yossi brought some of his friends to meet some of my friends. The night was great! We listened to live jazz music and then played "fool's pool..."

One of my favorite pictures of Mutsuko. She and Tomoko and I have been having such a blast touring Tokyo!

Here is my friend Reiko. I worked with her at Apple. She brought a friend along to meet me one night in Kichijoji on my way home from Kameido.

After "fool's pool" in Ogikubo, we hit Shibuya the next night. We played some more fool's pool, and then some fooseball!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


This was one of my favorite pictures. I took this while I walked around Ryogoku looking for a bite to eat. The entire section of town is devoted to the sport!


The trophy was as big as the wrestlers themselves!



This defeated sumo is walking away, probably to the nearest ramen restaurant to regain his energy and train for the next time!

Usually the sumo wrestlers seen walking around outside the stadium, have frowns on their faces, because they most probably just lost their match.

I thought this guy looked like a young SUMO IN TRAINING. But then again, he may have just had a few too many bowls of ramen... but given the close proximity to the event, I truly think that he was a young sumo-to-be.

Here is the train station where the sumo stadium is: RYOGOKU station.
Before each event, a singer comes out to sing his song. The same guy sang the whole day, however, for each new battle, a new official would step into the ring. Each with a new, different, very expensive kimono.

When the Sumos come out, they stomp their legs (one at a time) with a huge THUD, to show their might and strength, in an effort to intimidate their opponent.

I managed to get several different angles at the event. I walked around until the security officers would ask me where my seat was, because I was starting to encroach on the spaces of those who paid much more for their tickets. I, of course, bought the cheapest ticket I could, upon the advice of all of my Japanese friends who explained that the stadium remains at about 1/2 capacity until the final heavyweights start to battle late in the afternoon.

The interesting thing about RYOGOKU stadium, is that it was built for the sole purpose of hosting sumo wrestling. Although this may not seem like the most economically efficient use of an arena space, it does make for a great sumo tourney 4 times a year!

Many Sumo wrestlers who make it big (no pun intended), open up their own restaurant when they retire.

As I walked around the stadium, I noticed many posters of previous famous championships. I took pictures of these, and then turned around and saw a couple of sumo wrestlers standing behind me eating-- the same ones who were pictured! Well, they looked very similar, if they were not the same!

The goal of each match is to stay IN the ring, and ON your feet. The moment a wrestler steps a foot out of the rope of the ring, or drops to the ground with his knees or rest of his body, he is out. To hear the wrestlers commence is quite entertaining. They start with a HUGE SLAP -- their two mostly naked bodies slamming into each other. The flesh sounds like two huge pieces of flesh pounding together.

As part of their formalities, they STRETCH their legs, and bring their feet down with a huge THUD. They sprinkle salt in the ring, to purify??, it's all part of the 5 minutes of formalities before each 20 seconds of match.

Many different nations are represented. Although the Japanese monopolize the event, they do allow others to compete. 2 of the most popular wrestlers, in fact, are Mongolian and Bulgarian! Don't forget the Hawaiian!