October and Hallowe’en have come and gone, so here in Japan that means Christmas. No really, Christmas has sprung … everywhere. All the stores have their Christmas goods. Starbucks, Tullys and Seattles Best have their holiday drinks. Trees are decorated, including the ones outside our office. Christmas cakes have been for sale for weeks, as have New Year’s osechi — special bento boxes of food to start the year with. On some days, the weather is vaguely Christmas like (it’s 11 C and raining today), but this weekend was so, so lovely. Listening to Christmas music while sipping a Starba Snow Maple Toffee latte while watching the perfect weather outside is a bit mentally jarring. It reminds me of living in SoCal, a bit. Of course, since Christmas is pretty much a commercial venture only here, there’s no “Happy Holidays,” anywhere, just “Merry Christmas!” Even the small bar my friends like to frequent has a tree up. Although someone stuck a spooky Hallowe’en mask on there, which doesn’t quite fit the theme. Heh.
Said bar was inexplicably playing country music on Friday night. My coworker and I both just shook our heads at realizing we were listening to “All my Exes Live in Texas” at one point. I believe I threatened to sing that the next time I go to karaoke…
Two Saturdays ago, I headed out with a couple of friends to Yoshinogari Historical Park for
a few hours. It’s a significant Yayoi period archeological site. You can read a little more about the site here and here. The Yayoi period ran from roughly 300 BC – 250 AD, though this site is possibly older (400 BC). It started raining in earnest after we’d been there maybe an hour, so we only saw three sections of reconstructed village, plus the reconstructed burial mound. Interestingly, they buried their dead not just in stone or wooden coffins, but in clay capsules that look a lot like the dead should be launched into space, not buried in the ground. I’ve read that the practice was rare, and likely came over from Korea. The burial mound and the items on display there were fascinating, and I wish they’d had more of that and less reconstruction. Still, it was nice to be out of the city, outside and wandering around.
I forgot my camera that day, but my phone stood in. Gallery is here.
Yesterday a group of us attended the eighth day of the November Grand Sumo Tournament at the Fukuoka Kokusai Hall. It was quite interesting to see, and very relaxed and laid back in part because most people didn’t show up until 4 PM, when the higher ranked wrestlers started wrestling, but also because only one of us had any vested interest in the goings on (one coworker is a big sumo fan and clued us in on a lot of what was going on – very helpful). We kicked back, chatted, snacked, took pictures and generally just had a good time.
My one coworker, Lexi, and I got to see some of the big named wrestlers up close as they came into the hall because we just happened to be questing for food and souvenirs in the lobby at just the right time. One of the nice policemen running security took one look at us, asked if we wanted pictures, and when we were like “sure, why not,” he found us a spot in line. I didn’t get any good pics, ‘cause I couldn’t really lean around the guy next to me, but they were right *there* and very imposing. It was also very amusing to listen to the older women around us get as giddy as I would around rock stars. These women were also quite taken with us and had a friend of theirs across the way snap our picture.
We also kept running into wrestlers in the halls, dressed for the ring (so yes, not much at
all), and warming up. We were convinced we were in some area we shouldn’t be, but no, the wrestlers (usually in kimono – or something similar) were wandering around the neighborhood, the lobby, the halls…
Would like to get better seats a little further down (we were the very last row on the west side) and in front so I can see both wrestlers next time. Gallery of pics are here (and yes, fair warning, close-ups of very large men wearing next to nothing)
Next weekend is a three day weekend, and Tokyo & Yokohama, for Animax Musix (Granrodeo, Suzumura Kenichi and so much more!) and the Kiramune Fan Meet (lots of seiyuu!). Plus dinner with Riko Saturday after the concert.
Updated scheduled of fun, as it keeps changing…
- November 22nd — Animax Musix in Yokohama. Floor seats!
- November 23rd — Kiramune Fan event in Yokohama
- December 18-26th — Georgia!
- December 28th — Glay here in Fukuoka (a concert 14 years in the making for me!)
- December 31-January 4th — Tokyo for New Years!
- February 1 — Uta no Prince-sama 4th Stage in Yokohama (still in shock I got a ticket)
- February 7th — Granrodeo in Nagoya (still working on a ticket for this one)
- February 8th — Granrodeo in Nagoya
- February 15th — Granrodeo in Osaka
- March 15th — Granrodeo in Fukuoka
- March 21st & 22nd — Granrodeo in Saitama
- March 29th — Granrodeo in Sendai
- April 3rd — Granrodeo in Takamatsu
- April 5th — Granrodeo in Okayama (still working on a ticket for this one)