Let's go back to some real-time blogging, shall we?! After all, this IS a fuckin' Japan blog! So, last Saturday, I got to go to something called a "shougakkou undokai" or, basically, "elementary school track-and-field day." But see, the Japanese view this sorta thing very differently from Americans. This is not a cute little day of playing "catch the water-balloon." This is super-competitive, real-time sporting - and EVERYONE turns out to see it. According to my host-mother, men and women are actually allowed to take off work at their company, free of punishment, ONLY in the event of an elementary school undokai (doesn't apply for older kids).
To start, it just so happens that this elementary school is about a two minute's walk from my house. It also just so happens that my host-mother was a teacher there for ten years. She showed me this mural. I guess her and her sixth graders painted this right before they graduated. And guess what it's depicting? Yeah, you guessed it: an undokai.
Anyhoo, this event is big and expensive. Just look below to see how friggin' big this event is:
Hundreds of kids line up for their first real-life humiliation. Aaaw, look how cute they are. This is a special moment, right before life's realities strike the youth, lol. This kind of event would've crushed me as a child, lol.
After all the races are finished, the champions line up, set to traditional Japanese drumming, and play this crazy game where the losers carry around the champions, who are wearing colored hats. Then, two champions, up on the shoulders of the losers, have a mini sumo-wrestling match in mid-air. Whoever rips off the other team's hat first, wins. Yeah, kids were crying when they lost. Sorta sad, but, uh... that's life, lol. Here's a textbook photo of the Japanese social hierarchy system beginning to form at an early age:
Anyways, after all the public humiliation was finished, all the younger boys lined up for something I thought was seriously awesome: several hundred young boys performing the Sooran Bushi dance. For those who don't know what that is, the Sooran Bushi is a traditional Japanese dance from Hokkaido (the northernmost island) and the movements are meant to depict the act of catching fish by net and back-breaking labor. This dance is often performed at graduations and other such events because it's been slightly updated from the original with a faster tempo. Anyways, this video was shot from the side, which sucks because only from the front can the insanity of this dance be seen. If you want to see the real deal, look it up on YouTube. This dance is HARD. You need some serious calves for this dance. This crappy video doesn't show it but, towards the end, some of the boys in the back were actually falling cuz this dance is so difficult. So, the video's not too good, but enjoy this youthful rendition of Sooran Bushi:
Moving onto our next topic for the day - let's talk about food! I love this topic. So! For starters, let's talk sweets. I'm on a medication that makes me CRAVE SUGAR 24/7, so I have some good sweet-talk for you guys. First of all, I went back to Mister Donuts (yeah, yeah, bad Kita). But this time, I had the "bitter chocolate" doughnut. It's amazing. It's a chocolate doughnut without frosting. Instead, it's coated in this, like... cocoa-powder rub? And filled with gooey chocolate cream. Ugh, is it good. The other donut, well... I couldn't really understand what the sign said but, it seemed to be some kind of plain doughnut with a light dusting of sugar and cinnamon. Ugh, yes.
Also, as many know, Japan plays host to some of the most amazing varieties of Kit Kat bars known to man. Sonia tells me she's had watermelon-flavored Kit Kat in Japan. As some of my friends know, I've also had peach Kit Kats from Japan. Well, this one was just FABULOUS. This is caramel-flan-flavored Kit Kat! Oh my GAWD was it good!
Also, anyone besides me remember crispy M&M's? They had them in America for like, a year... and I loved them but I guess no one else did cuz they disappeared. Well, Japan still sells them at the train stations!!!
Also, what sick Japanese bastard invented THIS monstrosity?!! Japan doesn't seem to really have Oreo cookies, but... they DO have Oreo chocolate bars!!! Oh god, it's such a delicious sin! They also have a strawberry version I have yet to try. Furthermore, thanks to Japan, I have also eaten a chocolate sandwich, lol.
As far as miscellaneous food goes... first of all, Satoshi is a spaghetti god. You haven't had spaghetti till you've eaten his spaghetti. Second of all, I think it's time I declare myself vegetarian. I can't handle the meat in Japan. I just can't. I struggle enough in America but... I can't do it here. The chicken is really starting to get to me. A couple days ago my host-mother made chicken for dinner and everyone loved it and was going crazy over it and I... well, my gag-reflex would NOT let up. I must've looked dismal cuz my host-mother asked if I was okay, lol. But... it still had the skin... the cartilage... nothing was removed or picked out... They eat every morsel. Ugh, I just can't do it. I keep telling them it's okay but I think... very soon I'm going to declare myself a pescetarian (vegetarian who eats fish) and move on.
But tonight's dinner was great! Grilled salmon, seaweed salad, miso soup (my host mother likes to make miso soup with potatoes and red onions and sometimes eggplant, lol. What kinda miso soup is that?! Well, other than delicious), and gyouza (Chinese dumplings). My family was laughing at me cuz I was pouring spicy-hot vinegar all over the dumplings. They're very amused by my inability to be out-spiced by anything, lol.
Moving on to... TV TALK! So, TV is really effing funny here. When I figure out how to post YoutTube videos, I'll post some of the Softbank dog commercials cuz they're amazing. I also saw a commercial for The GazettE's new music video: Before I Decay, and I made the whole family jump by throwing up my arms and screaming "YAAAY!" really loud, lol. I don't even think they know the word "yay" but... they got the point, lol. Also, TV shows here are win. I watched a show in which these crazy Japanese people went to Rome and they weren't allowed to take pictures of anything. Instead, to prove what they'd seen, they had to wear construction helmets and stick a magnet from each location to the helmet (ie: a Leaning Tower of Piza magnet at the Leaning Tower of Piza, a David magnet at the Statue of David, etc.). This was incredibly hilarious, because magnets at tourist traps in Rome are huge and elaborate, lol. The Romans were staring at these Japanese like they'd flipped their lids, lol. Also, today, I watched a Japanese documentary on the life-and-times of Colonel Sanders and KFC... set to Bon Jovi music, hahahaha XD This country is so whacked, lol!
In other news, I was watching this TV show that happened to be doing a half-hour special on Fujiwara Tatsuya - the guy from Battle Royale who played Light Yagami in Deathnote. In other words, this guy:
As many know, I fucking HATE Light Yagami, but... Fujiwara's cool so it's okay, lol. So I told my family "when this special is over, I'm going to go do homework." A half an hour goes by, Fujiwara looks fabulous, he plays a wild game of jan ken pon (rock paper scissors) that almost looked like a Matrix stunt, blah blah blah, cut to commercial. Random note, but my friend Geri says she saw a play in which Fujiwara was completely naked onstage. Um, seriously?!! Anyhoo, during the commercial break, I attempted to explain Deathnote to my host mother, and why Light Yagami sucks balls, and why his rival, L, is the coolest character ever. I also explained to her that the guy who played L, whose name is Matsuyama Kenichi, is a total hottie, and it's too bad he hasn't been in much lately cuz then he's never on TV. Commercial break ends, I get up to go do homework, and the show brings out its next guest... Matsuyama Kenichi.............
For those who don't know, Matsuyama is this guy (yeah, yeah, I only picked a photo of him playing L cuz the lollipop looks good, lol):
Matsuyama grabbed one of his co-host's crotch at one point, and his favorite color is "natural white." Not white. Natural white. Apparently, this is some kind of cream color. He was very firm about this. Also, he went into a big description about what to do when you need to take a shit in Tokyo. Later, in his suit and everything, he had a sumo wrestling match with one of the co-hosts and pretty much tossed the guy off the set. Fucking awesome. Then I did homework, lol.
And now, for kicks - here's a picture of me and my host mother eating ten-don (tempura over rice) in Asakusa! Sorry the quality sucks - this is actually a photo of a photo, lol.
Anyways, a typhoon is coming tomorrow and, if it's strong enough, they'll cancel school! This is supposed to be the strongest typhoon Japan has seen in over five years but, unfortunately, Tokyo's only getting the edge of it so... it probably won't be strong enough to cancel school. It'll be JUST strong enough to make my commute to school suck completely and soak me in torrential rain. Already it's rattling the windows and making howling noises. Still, we're all glad it's coming cuz it rains a week straight leading up to a typhoon, meaning we've had a week of totally shit weather. But after the typhoon comes, we'll have beautiful weather!!! At last I can put away my umbrella!!!