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|WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)|
Superman's product of the century (so far):
I suppose that it's possible for any of us to think a certain way about a place - kind of get stuck in it. I recently realized that's what I've done relative to Tokyo and food. Because, noodle, sushi, and tempura are so ubiquitous it's easy - at least it has been for me - to think that it's all there is. Now, I love the noodle, sushi, and tempura - don't get me wrong. I just thought it'd be fun to check out some, well, really different kinds of food in Tokyo.
Here's one (and Scott, I think you'd love it):
It's a little hole-in-the-wall place near Tamaike Sanno station (Ginza Line and other subways here - central Tokyo area) - somewhat at the base of the ATT (that's not Ma-Bell) twin towers in Akasaka - I had to walk around to towers to see it - kind of up on the second level from the street....Continue reading "Pita the Great - Yep, that's right..."
there will be snow in Tokyo.
Sounds to me like it's pretty rare - but we got a couple of inches over the weekend. It was mostly gone by Monday evening....Continue reading "If you come here long enough..."
During my last trip to Japan, while in Osaka, I was treated to one of the most unique and honoring experiences I have ever had.
My joint venture partner took me to observe Sumo practice.
Perhaps most of us in the west have significant preconception about what Sumo is. We likely subconsciously connect it with our own sports experience and associate it with what we know about western professional sports. Most all of these preconceptions aren't true.
I quickly learned a set of facts which quickly disabused me of my western notions.
Sumo is more of a team sport than an individual one - it's not like our tennis is or golf (with an individual supported by their own courtege) as we might suppose. As with most things Japanese - there is a collective effort, a group think, each combatant an extension of his peers. Each Sumo stable (as they are called) is associated with a Buddhist Temple - and would be rather like us saying: "The Green Bay Packers are associated with the First Baptist Church in Green Bay". Most of the Sumo stables (there are 56 if I recall correctly) are home based around Tokyo, but there are six major tournaments a year at different locales (the Osaka tournament was coming up when I was there) so they move en masse to sister Temples near the city where the tournament is taking place. Located on the premises of the Temple is a practice area, which, in our case, was a loosely set up canvas and tarp tent, with the sacred circle contained within.
Sumo athletes pretty much lead a monastic existence. They begin practice every day at 5 AM - that's 365 days a year - and they practice until noon or so. They then eat a huge meal and rest for a little while, do some chores around the Temple, perhaps go to the market, and then in bed around 5PM - they sleep 10-12 hours a day because of the intensity of their training. They buy and prepare their own food. Most of them don't make much money. All of their winnings in tournaments are given to their stable - for those who are very successful, some amount of their earnings are returned to them. A career may last ten to fifteen years with this kind of existence. After their career, those that have made a name for themselves are some of the most honored citizens in society - some living their days out like royalty. Most go to work somewhere in Japan society or stay associated with the sport as a trainer or coach.
Though there is an official Sumo organization, it is focused almost completely on the sport's tradition - there are no significant commercial efforts for the kind of lavish corporate sponsorship and commercial television contracts that our professional sports are pervaded with. In fact, it appears that in many ways Sumo is a sport that remains financially 'wanting' because the sport depends almost completely on tournament winnings and donations....Continue reading "The Heart of Sumo Part 1"
It's not like I can just take a later train. If I don't catch the one at 4:13 then it's a local and five hours of stops back to Tokyo. So I must back to the station....Continue reading "Kawazu (Part 8) Back from Paradise"
The river through Kawazu goes up into those sharp mountains for many, many miles. There are advertisements for spas and onsens (hot springs), many with attached gardens, that look worth a visit. I can't make it up there on this visit though. Have to get back to the train soon.
But the vista beyond does give enough promise that I say to the river, to the trees: I'll come back to this place....Continue reading "Kawazu (Part 7) Hey beyond! I'll come back"
I mentioned earlier that "Osaka Style" pervades this city. The entreprenuerial air here is refreshing.
Wherever we take risks, though, there are potential consequences.
There is an extra edge to the bustle around Osaka station. This cabby got out of his car and yelled at the trafic blocking his way to let him through....Continue reading "Osaka (Part 5) Risk and consequence"
I don't think they were just there for the photo shoot.
But they were certainly the best dressed fishing folks on the river....Continue reading "Kawazu (Interlude) Hey, hon, I've got on my smoking jacket, you've got on your best outfit - let's go fishing!"
After walking through town, I caught up with everyone as they walked along the river inland, enjoying the blossoms all along the edge....Continue reading "Kawazu (Part 6) The River West"
At night the Shin-Umeda Sky Building takes on a different character.
The gardens that surround the building are well lit and beautiful.
The restaurants below the building have a great view of the lights and reflections....Continue reading "Osaka (Part 4) Osaka Night"
In a pinch we have to make do.
I had a UV/glare filter on the macro lens - it fit the long lens so I put it on for some sunset shots.
What follow is a series of shots looking West and slightly North along the river out to the bay where the Port of Osaka is. They're all of the sunset - in various stages. I like all of them, but if you just think 'seen one, seen 'em all', it's OK, you don't need to look - this one's pretty good.......Continue reading "Osaka (Part 3) Osaka Sunset"