Fun event in Dublin this past weekend as a large contingent of American football fans flocked to Ireland for the Emerald Isle Classic. The game itself was a total blowout but entertaining nonetheless. The weeks entertainment was provided by Temple Bar area, meat pies and strong stouts. Pregame entertainment was awash all over the streets of Dublin. Pubs overflowed with fans of all kinds and each team held electric pep-rallies and tailgates (despite there being no parking lots as Aviva Stadium was built in the middle of a neighborhood — I really love some things non-American). Fourth quarter entertainment was the midshipmen playing a game of pass with other fans in the stadium. Again something you would never see in the U.S. as the Irish security seemed to be getting a kick out of numerous failed attempts at getting the football into the upper deck rather than trying to wrangle the ball away from would be QBs. Post game the revelers spilled into cobblestoned streets and headed back into the pubs or back to the hotel for a short nap rally. By 3AM fans were either stumbling down Crow Street, asleep in their non-AC / heater bedrooms, or waiting for bus transfers to the airport. Whatever the case it seems everyone happily wore their Dublin Dazed Expression with pride. Like St. Patrick’s Day in the States, here everyone celebrated what little Irish exists in their lineage to the fullest.
The following photos are from the weekends events from a Navy fan’s perspective (as was my assignment).
Remember my visit to Tokyo? Remember the fun fish photos from Tsukiji Fish Market? I remember our awesome sushi breakfast and the spastic Tuna auctioneer you will see on just about any video footage taken at the market. For years the Tokyo Metro Government has been at odds about what to do with the popularity of the Fish Market, especially the Tuna Auction. Time and again the crowds become too large and disruptive that the authorities shut it off to the public. Tourists in the Tsukiji Fish Market are like tourists anywhere. They are slow, they do not pay attention and they are always in the wrong place. Think of that mini-van making an ill advised u-turn in Orlando, that tourist staring up with their camera at NYC skyscrapers in the middle of the sidewalk, that family who stops dead-center in the middle of the subway exit looking down at a map. Tsukiji Fish Market sees these same tourist characteristics from their visitors: snapping photos (guilty), standing in the wrong place at the wrong time (guilty), running into people (guilty), cramming too many people into too small an area (guilty) and the list goes on and on (mostly guilty).
It seems each time the Tokyo Government shuts down the tuna trading are they reopen with a new restriction. Back in 2008 visitors where restricted to a viewing area. In 2010, they have limited the number of visitors to 140 visitors a day on a first-come-first-serve basis and it looks like they must all wear some sort of yellow smock to identify them as guests. And I can’t see from photos, but maybe they have to remove their shoes too. Whatever the case, the Tsukiji Fish Market is a fun little place to spend your pre-dawn hours when visiting Tokyo.
A friend of a friend (Ayako Hirayama) writes for the Daily Yomiuri and was kind enough to stick a quote of mine in her article about the latest reopening of the Tsukiji auction to visitors. Lately I have had good luck with Japanese outlets. First the English language Metropolis magazine asked for some photos of the Tokyo Marathon and now this. ありがとう! Read the fish market HERE.
A few weeks ago a slow boat floated across the Pacific Ocean. Among it’s contents a box full of things I thought I would never see again.
It all started at dinner one night in Tokyo. I was about to leave the wet cool weather of the Tokyo Spring and head directly into the hot season of SE Asia. My luggage consisted of a REI daypack and my Timbuk2 messenger bag. The long sleeves, pants, running shoes, running gear and Japanese collectibles were not coming along. During one of my final nights in Japan I asked my friend Satoko to help me find a post office in her neighborhood. Memory tells her there is a post office one block north of the Umegaoka station near her apartment. She writes down the kanji symbols for post office and tells me to look for the symbol for Japanes Post (a “T” with a bar over the top ” 〒” ).
That night on the way home I walk past a local food market and rummage through their broken down boxes. Hoping to find something just the right size and authentically Japanese I settle on a box from a case of instant noodles. The locals give me sideways stares as we pass each other on the sidewalk that night, but what else is new. Back at Satoko’s homestead I pack that noodle box full of things I could do without for the next month. Among it’s contents my dirty marathon shoes, my dirty marathon shorts, my dirty marathon shirt, some books, some strange Japanese cosmetic items, wall art, yard art and some other nick nacks.
The following morning I head out in search of 〒. I arrive at the intersection we identified at dinner. The next fifteen minutes was like a cruel game of “hot and cold”. I see an red mailbox proudly displaying 〒. “You’re getting warmer.” I look for other 〒 signs on the buildings. “You’re getting cooler.” My mind and my legs wonder down the block a bit. “Now you’re freezing.” I anchor myself back to the 〒 mailbox. “You’re warm again.” In China I would feel confident enough in my language skills that I could ask for directions. In Japan I reach into my pocket and pull out a piece of paper with Satoko’s kanji. The next person to walk past me is getting a good look at this piece of paper, my box and my where is this place face. A nice looking middle aged women wearing the latest fashions stops before me. Gives me a quizative look. Glances over my shoulder. Points to the glass door behind me and smiles. I pivot to the door. Her high heels click away down the sidewalk. I stick my face on the door and peer in. “You’re burning up.” I’ve been standing in front of the damn place the entire time.
I walk inside and quickly try to pick up on the protocol. Standard post office fare. People holding letters and boxes standing in line. Unlike post offices in America, the workers seem polite and are busy with fast hands and quick shuffling feet. I’m thinking to myself, who is going to be the lucky one to service me. The workers all know I am here. They are calculating how many people are in line, how much postage each person in line has, where I am in line and how they can pace themselves (faster or slower) in order to not pull my number. In my head I place my bets on who its going to be. My money is on the shortest of the ladies with her hair flipping out from under her hat. My experience playing the who is going to be making my burrito at Freebirds pays off… and the short Betty Rubble it is. We start things with the easy stuff… postcards addressed to the US. No problem. But I’ve got this big ole box and she knows it. One postcard, two postcards, three postcards. Here is my total on her calculator. “Arrigato gozaimasu.” There is a moment where she thinks that is going to be it. Maybe I’ll take the box with me. I see it in her eyes. But I crash that hope when I push the box forward and hand her a piece of paper with a US address on it. She counters my move by sliding over a form paper with a bunch of kanji on it. Touché. I complete the form to the best of my ability. The transaction is not complete until after I decide if I want it to travel fast or slow. So after making some plane noises and plane hand shapes while shaking my head “no” followed by boat noises and shapes with my head saying “yes” and my mouth saying “hai” she knows exactly what I want.
Four weeks later I return to the states. No box. One week later I return to Texas. No box. Mother’s Day. No box. Did I used to have a pair of running shorts with a liner? No box. Did I buy that cleavage message thing in Japan? No box.
Then one day it arrives. The memories of Japan rush into my mind. The aroma of six-week old marathon worn clothes rush into my nose. That same week I receive my official results from the Tokyo Marathon. They must have been on the same boat and my faith in the 〒 is restored.
Finally… the ryokan video has been added.
And a little tast of Cambodia. I am a little behind on my blogging, actually leaving Cambodia on a bus to Ko Chang Thailand tomorrow. But I’ll have som good Cambodian stuff coming to you on my Flickr page and here on the blog.
Here(finally)is a video from my ryokan in Hakone. Guests must remove your shoes upon entering and place them in a locker, place a 100 yen coin in the slot, take out the key and get your coin and shoes back when you leave (photo of entrance and lockers). Oblivious to this custom I stepped onto the first level to take off my shoes. The two ladies working the front door about flipped. They geeked out, speed into some Japanese and shewed me back down. Me ” so sorry, so sorry”. The one lady had her standard English but could not address me in this situation. With enough hand gestures, and her reading from her handmade english phrase book we got through the whole ordeal and I am thankful for her patience. I should have learned this lesson when I did the same thing at Satoko’s place a few days earlier. But now I know, and now I enter all Japanese buildings much slower and deliberate.
I will be downloading some more photos from Hakone, but here is a good start.
This beer and noodle cup was dinner one night. The noodles 250 yen, the can of beer 258 yen. It ws a good beer and okay noodles.
Japan is full of light easy to drink beers. They can be a little pricey, especially because they go down so smooth. This particular night I had to return to the 7 Eleven for a few more cans of Yebisu.
This black egg (bag of five for 500 yen) was lunch on the side of the mountain one day. The eggs come up from the rope car station via rope elevator, are boiled in the hot spring and consumed by tons of tourists. The whole area smells of rotten eggs. But it’s not the eggs emitting the smell but the sulfur gas from the springs. Don’t stand in one place too long with your knees locked or you will get dizzy. Do pull your neighbors finger for a laugh.
Here are some of my favorite photos thus far on the trip.
These are a few things I noticed while in Japan. This is not a social commentary just a few observations. If you have any you would like to add in the comments I would love to hear them.
- Japanese really like mayonnaise.
- The last train of the night is, like Satoko said, ridiculously crowed with ridiculous amounts of people with poor drinking balance.
- A homeless man on the train smells just as bad as a homeless man in NYC. Just a little different and there are more people around to smell him.
- Japanese men spend a lot of money on hair products.
- There are n0 bugs in Tokyo.
- Japanese girls knees do not get cold and they like boots.
- Japanese women can do anything in heels (run, bicycle, balance on the subway, etc).
- You can buy a can of beer for 250 yen at 7-Eleven.
- People are always late. Forcing them to run everywhere.
- Most people own at least 12 umbrellas. Most of those umbrellas are transparent.
- Japanese network TV is dominated by the variety shows and not very good. So Japanese people read more. It’s a good thing. American TV is too good. Americans read less.
- Japanese network TV has about five celebrities, and they are on ever channel.
- On the train, the seat next to me is often open.
- I am not always handed the promotional items outside of train station exits.
- Do not look at your neighbors screen in the cyber cafe. It can get as raunchy as the homeless peoples internet searches in the Dallas Public Library.
If any of you know my love for hair tonic in men’s, I mean gentleman’s restrooms then you will know what a treat tonight was for me.
After a hard day trekking around Hakone Japan (full post to come later) I headed back to my ryokan for a soak in the onsen before dinner. When after my long soak in the numerous tubs did I find to my suprise and delight both a bottle of hair tonic and hair liquid before the vanity mirror. There are few physical items in this world that make me feel more like a man then a few good slaps of hair tonic from an old fashioned men’s room… or a Japanese onsen for that matter.
And since the onsen comes complimentary with my ryokan, tomorrow for breakfast… H.J. and eggs.
On Tuesday following the marathon Satoko and I took a train out to Nikko. This area is tucked away in a mountain region about two hours train ride north from Tokyo. The area is know for its natural beauty with a combination of scenic views, deep lakes, waterfalls, hot springs (onsen), temples and shrines.
Our tour guide for the day was local celebrity and professional hockey play Hiroshi Shiratori. (more…)
Here comes my long overdue marathon post. Since the race I`ve no access to the internet. So last night I found this internet cafe just off the Shibuya stop. And if anyone has been off the Shibuya stop, just next to the world`s busiest intersection you know finding anything here is not all that easy. It`s a little creepy here．I`m not really sure what people come here to do. So I`m not going to ask. Like a Vegas casino you don`t really know what time it is in here. Except it here it is dark and the guy in the stall next to me is snoring. But it`s two in the afternoon. Then again my friend, Satoko, told me some folks just live here since the recession began.
Back to the race. (more…)
No time to post. Must get to bed. Race day tomorrow. Forecast calls for 55 degrees F with heavy wind and a good possibility of rain. In the meantime enjoy this video from today’s preseason baseball game. The home team (Swallows) have an umbrella cheer when they score a run. I expect there to be plenty of umbrella cheering in the rain tomorrow.
Just a little video as Tokyo prepares for todays big Japan vs. Korea game in the World Baseball Classic. This is from a local morning show and a peak out the window of my hotel. As you can see I am outside of the city, in Tokyo Bay next door to the race expo and marathon finish line.
If the video does not work please let me know. It’s my first video post and I do not have a flash player on my mini.
“It’s the little things you do that make the big things happen.” At least that’s what Frank Conley’s t-shirt in high school said. I have proof that what this shirt spoke of years ago still holds true today. (more…)
Tomorrow I head off to Tokyo. Luckily I received an update from the Tokyo Marathon before I finished packing. Looks like I WILL have to pack running clothes. Damn.
Race day forecast. 100% chance of rain. 100% chance card of pain.
There is a certain responsibility that comes with organizing a countries largest participant marathon in a place with such pent up energy. I love that the organizers have to produce the following warning. I would love it even more if this is just a formality and folks instead read this as an instructional guide. Either way you gotta check out the “rules”.
TO RUNNERS PLANNING TO WEAR COSTUMES
We understand that wearing of costumes and putting on a disguise is one of the enjoyments to participate in a major marathon event. On the other hand, it might cause the runner itself to fall, and also make the other runners or audience feel uncomfortable.
Please be advised that in order to permit wearing of costumes in the future, we request for each runner to understand the circumstances and extend exercise of their sensibility. (more…)