Kyoto, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Huge men so close you can see their bums ripple as they slap their thighs. Calf muscles so massive they are obvious even beneath half a foot of adipose tissue. Oiled hair styled in cute little fans on the tops of men’s heads, colorful thongs covering massive behinds, rolls of fat everywhere you look...

Yeah, we saw sumo today. And it rocked.

We woke up early and the boys decided it was time to hack off their facial hair with dull single-bladed razors, which led to a lot of whining. I read in bed.

We arrived in 小坂 faster than expected after catching the super express train from Kyoto, but our speedy arrival was for naught due to a complicated map and stubborn map-wielder. I had put Aaron in charge of finding the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, which was the location of the sumo match, and he took to the task with reluctant enthusiasm and middling confidence. I probably should have helped more, but I have always been a dunce when it comes to finding places (I would like to thank my paternal grandmother for that, it leads to interesting times, especially when she is in the car with me) and try to avoid frustrating myself. No matter where I go, I get lost. Even when I’m just trying to find the 井の頭, a train I’ve ridden nearly every day for six months, I will surely end up three miles from it if I approach it from an unfamiliar angle (like the 山手 line, as was proved only a few days ago).

So we ended up going in the wrong direction for approximately 15 minutes until Aaron finally gave in and asked a nice man pushing a lady in a wheelchair for directions. He caught his breath and hesitated, then reluctantly pointed in the opposite direction of where we had been steadfastly heading.

Oh well. We got to walk in the sun and see the city.

When we finally arrived at the Gym after I asked for directions one more time, we went straight to the ticket booth to see if there were any tickets left. Much to our dismay, all adult standing room had been sold out, along with all the affordable seating. Only box seats were left, which I scoffed at in the name of my pocketbook. So we hung out around the entrance for a while, taking pictures of the entering wrestlers, mumbling, writing postcards to Jessica and other equally as loved ones.

A random Japanese girl in a gauzy skirt approached us asking if we had gotten a box seat. She said she would be interested in getting one with us if we were so inclined, which we briefly considered and then declined. So the four of us continued to linger, loiter, and brood.

Finally us Americans came to our senses. It was the final day of the tournament. We had come all the way to Osaka to see it. We were on vacation. It was the chance of a lifetime. What’s 9,200 yen in the face of all that?

Just as we came to this conclusion and turned to the mysterious girl to tell her we accepted her offer, she disappeared. We looked everywhere, but she was not to be found. So we left.

Again, we brooded and stewed and hesitated. After walking a short ways, we again came to our senses, turned on our heels, and marched right back to the Gym to ask about getting tickets for three people. I asked the man at the window if it would be possible to have three people in a boxed seat meant for four, and he quickly said it was perfectly acceptable. So the three of us amassed roughly $300, handed it over, received some paper in return, and made our way into the bowels of the building.

A woman led us to our seats, which involved crossing the area where the wrestlers wait to enter the ring. We literally had to squeeze between sweating, nearly-naked men, in order to reach the stairs to our seats. It was awesome.

Our boxed seat turned out to be four pillows on plywood surrounded by metal bars, but it was cozy and had a good view. We passed the afternoon watching the match, cheering at the exciting parts, watching the ceremonies without much comprehension, and trying to figure out how to ask for an ashtray for Kyle without getting up.

We were there for about 5 hours all together. Kyle had the misfortune of being seated next to a stinky man, although his odor never reached my nostrils. There was a bald-headed man a few boxes ahead of us who seemed perfectly content to seat himself on the raised metal bar enclosing his area as opposed to sitting on a pillow on the floor like everyone else, so his head found its way into many of my pictures.

One thing I wish I’d done is order a big purple bag full of goodies. Every few minutes a Gym employee wearing a traditional coat and headband would make his way through the boxed seats carrying 4 or 6 of the things and handing them to various patrons, until eventually it seemed we were the only three in the entire place who didn’t have purple bags. Well, that’s not true. Some of the bags were pink or green. But I would have gotten a purple one.

We got dinner in Osaka and then went back to Kyoto, retiring to the surprisingly comfortable J-Hoppers lounge and reading, playing guitar, and talking with some of the other travelers. There was a girl from Dublin who was full of "Wait! I have an even better story…" that always led to random, over-personal information leaving us all dumbfounded, and she was traveling with a girl with a weird voice who was from Ohio. They busied themselves with 7-Eleven cheesecake after comparing tattoos with Kyle. The coolest guy in the place was Evan, a half-Chinese dude from Australia with a personality and face akin to a good friend of mine.

My phone rang during this time, and I ran down to the lobby to talk. I got to hear all about a traumatic event that took place at my house, involving a kid who ODed on morphine and went into a coma while my brother freaked out and had to call 911. Luckily my parents were home and helped. It turns out the kid had just gotten out of a psych ward and had been sent to my brother by a former friend of his, a certain AJ, one of the only people I have ever truly hated in my life. Picture a short, skinny, rat-faced sunnuvabitch with a straggly goatee and a bad hair cut, who speaks too much about things that he shouldn’t be thinking about, mocks adults, bites the hand that feeds him, and insults perfectly admirable and upstanding citizens concerning matters that are simply none of his concern. That’s AJ. He has a punch from my fist waiting for him the next time I see him. AJ had the balls to tell my brother that whatever this kid had on him when he ODed, it belonged to him. Who would argue for his right to rob a kid in a coma? Who would sell a kid morphine, watch him take it, and then send him off to die, and then rob him?


I’m glad my brother survived the ordeal. I think he learned from it, and the OD kid is okay.

That concludes day two of kaytay’s Kyoto Adventure.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6