Japan    July, 1986.     3200 miles

Japan Overview

Daily Journal
   Week 1
   Week 2
   Week 3
   Week 4

Japanese Vocabulary

Gifu     Mon, 7/7     

Takayama Shrine Spent several hours in the morning walking around Takayama. Visited two morning markets. Changed more money at the Tom and Jerry Bank. Took the 1:00 train through Gifu to Nagoya. Had a hot bath in the station before meeting Mieko and returning to Gifu. Went to see the John, Mieko, and Steve Cormorant fishing at the river. Returned on a bus to Gifu and had dinner at an Izakaya Bar - Happy Hour until Midnight! Took a taxi up another bicycle-lane mountain road to the youth hostel, which had closed an hour earlier. Finally woke up the owner and got in. Cost only $23 for all three of us. Beautiful view of Gifu from the top.

Nagoya     Tue. 7/8     

Steve at the Sumo Stadium John taking his Seat Anticipating a good Show Getting the Rink Ready

Walked down the mountain from the Youth Hostel and through the city of Gifu. Caught a train to Nagoya and proceeded to the Sumo gym to get tickets (about 12:30). Bought tickets for 7500 yen box "seats". Went in to watch the young wrestlers. Met an English teacher who told us all about the sport, and said we could sit on the front mats until the "Big Boys" came out. Amazed and confused a Japanese party by retrieving their shoe from under the stands, and then handing them a beer to boot. Jesse - First Non-Japanes Grand Champion (Retired) Think I could Take Him? All the Japanese loved talking to us on the way out. Got our bags that we had left at the station and took a cab to the youth hostel. Dashed out for Chinese food in order to get back to the youth hostel by the 9:00 closing. Polished off a bottle of Tanqueray with a Japanese guy and a New Zealander (Paul Ferris).


Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling

Five side judges decide on the winner. One ring judge controls the match. When the ring judge tips his fan, the match can begin. The fight starts when both wrestlers touch both hands to the white line (after a lot of ritual prancing, stomping, slapping the knees, and throwing salt around the ring). The loser is the first man to touch the dirt outside the ring with any part of his body, or touch anywhere with any part other than the soles of his feet. Each wrestler fights a maximum of one match per day (the amateurs fight every other day attempting to move up in rank). Each tournament lasts 15 days and takes place every two months: three times a year in Tokyo, one each in Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka. When flags are marched around the ring, the match pays about 40,000 yen per flag (for the winner only). A champion is never deposed - he remains a champ until he retires (usually as soon as he starts losing more than he wins). After each tournament each wrestler either moves up or down in rank based on win/loss record (no ties). There are only 7 no-nos: 1) No Grabbing of Balls, 2) No Punching, 3) No Grabbing Hairdo, 4) No Elbow Punches, 5) No Biting, 6) No Eye Gouging, and 7) I forgot.
Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling Sumo Wrestling

Matsuyama     Wed, 7/9     

Hovercraft to Takamatsu Steve ready to Go Caught 9:00 Shinkansen from Nagoya. Decided on the spur of the moment to get off in Kobe. Checked our bags and went to a great steak house for a real Kobe-beef steak. Cost about $12 for 200g steak with bread and salad. Walked around shopping areas for a while (bought fireworks and "beerhunter"). Caught the Shin to Okayama, then another to Uno. Steve used Gaijin Out on the Town the "Blank Stare" technique to get us on the hovercraft for free. Caught another train from Takamatsu to Matsuyama (about 3 hours). Took a cab to Ryokan (another, more western style, hotel), arriving about 10:00. Great room with beds and a Japanese style living room. Had a much needed Ofurro (Hot Tub Bath). Had take-out Okanomiaki for dinner.

Matsuyama     Thu, 7/10     

Yakitori Bar Yakitori Bar Yakitori Bar Yakitori Bar

Slept in and had a good western breakfast at the hotel. Made travel arrangements and did laundry while it rained all morning. Wandered around the shopping street all afternoon where it was covered and cool. Pounded several "masses" of beer while watching more Sumo on TV. Came back to the hotel for a quick Ofurro, then headed out to the red lantern district. Ate dinner at a good, cheap, Yakatori/Karaoke Bar, and made several friends who kept us in Sake and beer. Then went to the "Techno Bar" where the 2500 New Friends New Friends yen cover got you all you could drink until midnight. I met Hiroko while Steve and John partied with about ten Japanese guys. We all went out for some food together and chugged many Sho-chu Sours before they led us back to the hotel, quite wasted.

Matsuyama     Fri, 7/11     

Hiroko Hiroko and Me I got up and met Hiroko about 9:00 am for a private tour of the city. Went to Matsuyama castle Ė up a cable car and down on a single chair lift. Took the tram to Dodo-Onsen. It was an extremely hot and humid day. Walked through shopping area, where I bought chimas, noren, and a lantern, before reaching the Onsen. Almost exclusively old people in the bath. Hiroko told people at the Onsen who her father was (apparently some form of big-wheel at the bath) and we got the royal treatment. They took us up to a small tea room for refreshments, where Hiroko gave me a very private and intimate tea ceremony. The owners then gave us a free tour of the emperorís Japanese Mall Isaniwa Shrine private bath-house and chambers. Next we climbed many stone steps to arrive at Isaniwa Shrine, then ate cold noodles at the oldest restaurant in Matsuyama (served with a small bird egg). Proceeded to Shiki Museum and the top of the park by the zoo, where Hioko and I had a very nice conversation, before taking the trolley back to the hotel.

Nagasaki     Sat, 7/12     

You even sit on the Floor on a Ferry! Got up much too early and caught a cab to the ferry station.Rode about 4 hours to Oita and hopped a train to Nagasaki (with a mad dash at Tosu). Met Adam from Germany on the train and had a great conversation in German. Met a nice Japanese woman named Satuko who translated many of my journal entries into Kanji (Japanese). Got to the restaurant owned by Steve and Johnís good friend, Yasuhiro Komiya ("Yas"), called Joog Yooz (which means Ten Cow Pictures) about 5:30. Taught the kitchen help how to make Daiquiris How do you make Daiquiris? Yas between Me and Steve at Joog Yooz Joog Yooz - Our New Home for the Next Two Weeks and had the first of many great curry meals. Went back to Yas' place, drank many beers, listened to music, and watched "DC Cab". Donít remember when we got to bed.

Nagasaki     Sun, 7/13     

A day of rest! John had already left (he went back to the States earlier than Steve and I) by the time we finally awoke. Adam left to tour the town.
Adam getting Ready to Leave We watched movies and listened to music until 5:00. Walked over to Joog Yooz (about 28 minutes) to meet Adam. Had a few beers and played chess with Adam. Went to a Mexican restaurant owned by Yasí friend who had lived in L.A. for a while. Great dinner, but slow service. Talked to the owner for a while. He grew cilantro and peppers from seeds he got in the U.S. He also made dinner on the house. Took a cab back to Yasí after a short stop at Joog Yooz. Watched more movies before crashing.

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