Blog This

Monday, August 06, 2007

Okazaki Fireworks Festival

On the first weekend of August, Okazaki hosted a very big fireworks festival. The river was lined with people hoping the catch a look at the big show. Some people even paid upwards of $100 to reserve seats along the river to get a close up look at the show. During summer festivals it's common for women and men, young and old, to dress in yukatas, the light summer kimono. So I decided that I would try it too and luckily I was joined by some friends. There is no way I could have dressed myself properly in the yukata without the help of a Japanese person who knew what they were doing. Folding it and making sure it lay properly was harder than I thought and tying the obi, the sash around the waist, also looked harder to do than I imagined.
Once we were dressed we went to the health club where myself and some other friends are members and we watched the fireworks show from the roof where there was a party being hosted. It was a great view until it started to rain. We had to retreat a bit but we were still able to see the show. I ran into one of my students at the club and he looked surprised to see me dressed in the yukata. It was funny.
It was a fun night and I'm really glad that I wore the yukata, but it was such a nice feeling taking it off at the end the night!


A couple of weeks ago I went to Nagoya to watch a sumo tournament. We watched for about 4 hours and it was a lot more exciting that I am expected. Each round starts off with the wrestlers coming out and walking around the dohyo, or ring, as their names are called. After they exit the opponents do the same thing but they come in from another entrance in order to avoid contact with their opponent before the match. After the walk about is finished, the dohyo is purified with salt and then the first competitors come out. There is no weight class in sumo, the opponents are pitted against one another based on how many tournaments or matches they have won. I found that for the most part the competitors appeared to be of the same weight. There were also Western competitors and some of them didn't appear to fit the sumo stereotype look. One of the westerners we nicknamed Jean Claude van Dam because he looked more like a karate type guy than sumo.
The fights were pretty quick. The goal is get your opponent out of the dohyo or to make them touch the ground with any part of their body besides their feet. The matches were pretty clear cut when deciding the winner but at one point the judges had to confer and decide the winner.
Sumo isn't just a sport for the competitors, it's a lifestyle. They must dress in their yukata (light kimono) when out in public and they usually live all together in a place referred to as a stable. The life span of a sumo wrestler is shorter than the average Japanese because of their lifestyle. They eat irregualry and large portions, they also drink a lot of beer and their physical injuries has a toll on their bodies.