Monthly Archives: February 2010

Exploring Japan: Yuigahama Beach, Kamakura – January 25, 2010

It was January, and it was a sunny, windy day.  Perfect day for the beach!  Well, it’s not exactly a popular time to go, but you don’t have to worry about the crowds.  Yuigahama Beach is one of the beaches in Kamakura.  This beach is to the west of Namerigawa River, which is the main river that runs down the centre of the city.  It’s about a 15 minute walk south of Kamakura Station, or you can walk there within 5 minutes from Wadazuka, Yuigahama or Hase stations on the Enoden Line.

It was a very windy day, so across the street from the beach, it felt like a sandstorm.  There were even small dunes forming on the beach.  However, once on the beach, this wasn’t a problem if you’re by the wet sand.  On this day, there were some surfers, but the waves weren’t very big.  There were also a few wind surfers, and they were going very fast.  Enjoy the pictures!

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Sagami Bay from across the street. It's a very windy day!

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Yuigahama Beach is a large, sandy beach. But it was quiet on this day.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Looking across the Namerigawa River to Zaimokuza Beach. The river separates the beaches.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Some nice waves at the beach. This is looking west toward Inamuragasaki.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

There are a couple of surfers going out into the smallish waves.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

The sand at the beach. It's wet!

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

And now, here's a wave coming in.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Looking east toward Zushi city.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

The area closed off by blue tarps is a small construction area. Every summer, there are temporary buildings, shops and food stands on the beach.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

It was a windy day, so there were a few windsurfers out.

Yuigahama Beach - Kamakura

Here's a surfer walking along the beach. I have no idea where his surf board was.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  In summer, Yuigahama is very crowded with surfers, wind surfers, sunbathers and swimmers.  It’s also very hot.  If you’re interested in going there, here’s a map:

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Filed under Japan, Kamakura, Kanagawa

January 2010 Hatsu Basho Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament

On January 18, I attended Day 9 of the sumo tournament in Tokyo.  Sumo tournaments are 15 days long, and are held every 2 months (3 times a year in Tokyo, once in Osaka, once in Nagoya and once in Fukuoka).  This tournament is special because Chiyotaikai retired after being demoted from the 2nd highest rank of Ozeki to the 3rd highest rank of Sekiwake.  Even bigger is that after this tournament, Mongolian Yokozuna Asashoryu announced his retirement after yet another scandal involving his bad temper.  But I’m not going to talk about that.  Instead, I have some photos and a video to share.  After taking all of these photos, I realised how badly I need a new camera.  I hope to buy one in the next 2 or 3 months.

So, I arrived at Ryogoku station in Tokyo shortly after 2 pm and headed over to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, which is where the tournament is held.  I’d be able to see the top 2 divisions in their entirety, plus some of the 3rd division (Makushita).

Ryogoku Kokugikan

Here I am, outside the main ticket gate of the Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Sumo ticket

And here is my ticket. It's for arena seating, B section. It's decent, but next time, I want section A.

Sumo awards

This is the awards display case just inside the Kokugikan.

Kokugikan

After finding my seat, I took this picture. This was my view. It was a very good position!

At this point, the Makushita division was competing.  Not many people were watching, as everyone comes for Makuuchi, the top division.  However, it was interesting seeing some of the up and comers.  I was hungry at this point, so I went to get something to eat.  On my way back, I met Musashimaru!  He’s a former Yokozuna, and currently a coach.  He’s from Hawaii, so speaks perfect English.  I went up to him and asked him how he was.  He said, “Oh, I’m fine.”  Then I went back to my seat after telling him it was nice to meet him.

sumo

Here's a Makushita division match. I don't remember who they were.

Sumo - Juryo entrance ceremony

This is the Juryo division entrance ceremony.

sumo - Juryo

These two Juryo division wrestlers are doing their ritual preparations.

Sumo - scoreboard

I guess you could call this the scoreboard. It lists all the matches of the day in Juryo and Makuuchi and who won.

Sumo - Juryo

Here are 2 more preparing for their match.

Sumo - Juryo

And now the match!

Sumo - Juryo match featuring Yamamotoyama

On the right is Yamamotoyama. He is the biggest sumo wrestler at the moment. He is very heavy and not at all graceful.

Sumo - Juryo match featuring Yamamotoyama

Yamamotoyama has lost! Don't worry, the judge below him escaped.

I’ll take a moment here to describe the people who were sitting around me.  On my right were an elderly couple.  On my left was a group of middle aged people.  In front of me was an American with a big camera.  He was tall, and he kept leaning forward, making it difficult for me to see.

Sumo - Big head in front of me

Here was my view. Notice how his head was perfectly placed to obstruct my view.

The Juryo division has finished, and now it’s on to the Makuuchi division.  There are 42 wrestlers in this division.   At the top is Yokozuna.  At the time of this tournament, there were 2, Hakuho and Asashoryu, both from Mongolia.  However, Asashoryu has since retired.  Next is Ozeki, of which there are 4.  They include Kotooshu (the popular Bulgarian), Harumafuji (the very talented Mongolian), Kotomitsuki (a mediocre Japanese Ozeki who had withdrawn earlier) and Kaio (the old guy, a longevity record-breaking Ozeki who is quite popular and has a very strong arm).  Then it’s Sekiwake, of which there are 2, including Baruto (a young, tall Estonian) and Chiyotaikai (the former Ozeki who had retired earlier in the tournament).  And then it’s Komusubi, of which there are 2, including Kotoshogiku (a promising Japanese sumo wrestler) and Kakuryu (a young Mongolian).  The rest are all Maegashira.  The very popular Takamisakari is a Maegashira, and he’s known for his arm pumping at the beginning of his matches.  He’s also on commercials a lot.  Well, back to the pictures.

Sumo - Makuuchi entrance ceremony

At the beginning of the Makuuchi matches, there is an entrance ceremony.

Sumo - Makuuchi entrance ceremony

This is the other half of the entrance ceremony.

Sumo - Hakuho entrance ceremony

Now it's the Yokozuna entrance ceremony. First up is Hakuho.

Sumo - Hakuho entrance ceremony

Hakuho's continuing his ceremony.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

Next is Asashoryu's entrance ceremony. Although many people don't like him, people seem to love watching him. He has a lot more flair than Hakuho.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

Asashoryu is lifting his leg high up in the air.

Sumo - Asashoryu entrance ceremony

And now his leg is down.

Sumo - Kokugikan

Now a look at the overall view of the Kokugikan. A lot more people now. It's not full, and it never is on a weekday. It sells out for weekends, though.

Sumo - Makuuchi

The matches are on!

Here is a video of Takamisakari versus Tochinonada.  Takamisakari is on the left.  Watch and listen around the middle when he pumps his arms.  Sorry for the video quality.

Sumo - Goeido vs Miyabiyama

Here are two very good sumo wrestlers. Goeido is on the left, and he's expected to be the next best Japanese wrestler. On the right is former Ozeki Miyabiyama.

Sumo - Kotooshu vs Baruto

We're nearing the end of the tournament, which is when the top wrestlers compete. Here are two very tall Eastern Europeans, Ozeki Kotooshu (left) and Sekiwake Baruto (right).

Sumo - Kotooshu vs Baruto

Kotooshu and Baruto are locked together. However, Baruto beats his senior.

Sumo - Asashoryu vs Kisenosato

And now the final two matches. First is Yokozuna Asashoryu vs Kisenosato, who is a very talented and strong competitor.

Sumo - Asashoryu vs Kisenosato

When they were down like this, they stared at each other for a long time. Kisenosato is not intimidated by Asashoryu.

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

The final match features Yokozuna Hakuho and the unimpressive Kakizoe.

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

The match has started!

Sumo - Hakuho vs Kakizoe

And Hakuho is the winner!

Sumo - Bow dance ceremony

Finally, after all the matches have been completed, is the bow dance ceremony.

Ryogoku Kokugikan

One last look at the Kokugikan as I leave to go home.

The Grand Sumo Tournament was fun.  It took me nearly 5 years to finally attend a sumo tournament, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I liked it so much, I’m going to try attend every tournament in Tokyo.  The next one is in May!

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Filed under 23 Wards, Japan, Sports, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Updates and weather

Sorry about the lack of updates lately.  I blame 2 things.  First is the weather.  It’s so cold, and trying to warm up at home is a difficult task.  I have an air conditioner/heater, but it struggles to warm anything when it’s this cold.  I don’t find I’m very motivated to do much at home when I’m just trying to keep myself warm.  Another is that I’ve been playing The Sims 2 a lot.  I got the game several years ago, but couldn’t play it on my old computer.  On my new computer, it works great!

Anyway, the weather has been interesting this week.  Mostly cloudy and rainy, as well as cold.  But on Tuesday, it actually got up to 20 degrees.  One day of spring with cold winter days on each side.  Very strange.  Next month is March, which means spring-like weather is coming.  By the end of March, it should be pretty comfortable outside.

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Filed under Blog Announcements, Weather

It snowed! Spring is next?

It has finally snowed! This is the first snow I’ve seen in 2 years in Japan. It’s not staying long, though. This month, many flowers will start blooming, and spring is coming soon.

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Filed under Weather