Saturday, November 7, 2009

Birthday Sumo!

As Jen puts it, this is the Rebuild. =D
Day One of it, really. Expect more to follow. =D

So anyway, remember way back when? I had a birthday! And we went to the final day of a massive sumo competition which was amazingly good fun!! I took a vid and lots of pictures. We spent the day there before going to an English-style pub. All the gang were there, a few of whom have since left Japan or are going to leave shortly. Ed, Chris R, Wendell, Rachel, Mike and Ayako, Cris C, and I had a blast before heading over to karaoke until 5am! All nighters happen a *lot* in Japan because the last train is at 10:30pm to come back to Hama or midnight for the locals. That's way too early to quit, lol, so if you want to stay out you have to really commit... or sleep in the karaoke rooms, which is actually surprisingly comfortable!! What follows are some pics and the info I could glean from the other, more knowledgable, foreigners out that day. =D

Cris didn't believe that I had found ice cream you don't have to keep in the fridge! It's freeze-dried really, like astronaut ice cream, and VERY yummy!! =D

Cris bought Ed and Chris some presents... You could change the angle of the eyes so good time naturally ensued!! =D

A few things about sumo. There's a ritual to it, and I only understand bits, so please forgive me if I miss something or it doesn't seem complete! First, the wrestlers throw salt to purify the ring. They raise and slam down one foot, then the other, to ward off evil spirits. You'll notice they crouch down right before they strike, and sometimes they crouch down and get back up again. They can do this as many times as they like. So how do they know when it's time to really lunge at each other? Easy. Both wrestlers must touch their fists to the ground before striking. When one is ready he'll put his hands down and the other will either do a false start (because it 'just didn't feel right') or or put his down and then leap into action.

As I said in one of the videos, it's amazing how different the fighters are! Some look to be holding each other everrrrr so gently, picking each other up in hugs, and placing their opponents outside the circle; while others go crazy and start slapping and head butting. It's very entertaining, though most of my students think it's silly and not fun to watch. =D

At the beginning of each new bracket(?) level(?) of wrestlers, they do what I call, "the parade of flags." Each person wears a hand made (and extremely valuable, in the range of several thousands of dollars) skirt-type flag around their waist that is their or their family's symbol. I said it reminded me of the turnstyle at sushi, where you just pick your favorite, LOL.

You can see in the stands that no one else is there, but when it got closer to the finals and the final match, that place filled up like you wouldn't believe!!

When the finals begin, a lot of times they stop for advertising between matches. A bunch of people parade around the ring with company flags including Softbank (my cell provider), a famous cookie company here, and (of course) McDonalds!

There was a sweet little old lady from England with fried egg earrings one row ahead of us, and she would turn around and explain lots of things to us, which was very nice and helpful, though I can't remember most of it now, lol. She's in one of my videos though I don't know if I'll upload it here because this website takes forever! :( But I know I got a picture of her! =D

There were apparently two wrestlers who weren't Japanese there, and that caused a big excitement! I got a picture of one, a huge guy from somewhere is Eastern Europe, I believe. He's the man two right of the official in the black jacket. I was rooting for him, but he didn't win. The boys and I were putting down bets left and right but we left there almost 50/50. Just goes to show you can't always choose the biggest guy, lol, like I was doing! =D

The winner(?) did a dance while spinning this long stick. I have a video of it but it's taking wayyyy too long to upload anything here! :( Still, pretty cool!! =D

Oh. My. Goodness!! The awards ceremony took foreverrrr! This guys got dozens of awards, medals, trophies, etc. from the government, businesses, etc. He even got a COW! I like this pic the best because the guy carrying the silver cup that's bigger than him almost dropped it, it was so heavy! Thousands of people gasped at the same time, lol.

At the pub! We always do these "surprise" photos to each other, and this one is by far and away my favorite!! We ask someone to take a picture, then have one or two people jump in on it and try to scare them. Ed's face is *priceless*!!! =D

Rachel studies the menu. Notice the Guinness? Good! How about the plate of toasted bread and these funny radish-type veggies that are everywhere in Japan?? Ohyeah, that's super English LOL!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Long time no see!!

Hi everybody!!!!

I'm so sorry for the long absence!! I've been thinking of this blog constantly but it takes such a long time to upload the videos and pictures, and for the past month I've been traveling every weekend or having house guests. In two days I leave for a week in Thailand!! Once I get back you're going to get a plethera of blog posts though!! I've got hysterical videos and pictures from my birthday/sumo extravaganza; Thailand; DisneySea Halloween Party; and some random awesomeness that I've been experiencing lately!!

Please know I'm thinking of you all and miss you terribly!!
Take care of yourselves and each other!!

All my Love,
Sarah D

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jingas Kahn Lunch, a horse park, and a cave?! OH MY!! =D

Welcome to the latest installment of "What Sarah did!" In this episode, Sarah spends a fun-filled day with three of her favorite people and even makes a new friend! In the first picture is Noriko and Miharu! Noriko is on the left and used to be a GEOS student but I hadn't met her until this day! Miharu (right) also used to be a GEOS student but we've been friends for months! Both ladies are sooo much fun!! Hide (pronounced He-day) is taking the picture! He's a current student of mine, and we'll meet up with Asumi (another student) later on tonight for dinner! We had the most amazing day!! Gorgeous weather, unusual and exciting events, new friends and great ones!! It was lots of fun!!

This is the "gingas kahn lunch." A 30 minute drive North of Hamamatsu puts in the most picturesque mountains!! We all sat on cushions and tatami around a wooden table with a grill in the middle. But this grill was unique because the cooking surface was a big dome, like someone turned a metal collinder upside-down! The reason it's called Gingas Kahn Lunch is because it's supposed to look like Kahn's helmet upsode-down! Funny, huh?? The food was sooooo delicious and pretty healthy because the fats all get syphoned off at the bottom! We had meat sausages, sweet pumpkin, mushrooms, cabbage, onions, and more!! This set (pictured above) was one serving of two! We also had white rice, this smashed potato stuff that's really good, miso soup, and tea! The sauce they used was really succulent and you could use other things to taste, like raddish, ginger, scallions, and something else I couldn't recognize. I want to go again!! =D

Like the child that I am, everyone cooked for me and served me, as there is a special technique to cook everything evenly and I'm still a bit clumsy with my hashi (chopsticks) over hot things! But it was lots of fun!

OMG, out front of the restaurant was the most hideous STUFFED BOAR!!!! This thing had three holes in it's head (assuming from the bullets) that the taxidermist didn't fill in!!! CREEPY!!!! Hide even stuck his finger in one as a joke and I almost vomited! Can you believe how huge it is???

The view from the restaurant was mountains and TONS of beautiful flowers in soft blue, pink, lavender, and white!! (There was an entire valley beneath us with the flowers and I took lots of pictures but figured most people wouldn't be interested in a bunch of pictures of the same flowers in different colors, LOL! If you are, email me and I'll send them over! Otherwise, let's carry on with the excitement!!)

HORSE PARK!!!!! You can take lessons here (for a ridiculously exorbitant fee!! Then again, horses are a bit rarer here I suppose...) and visit the horses! These two tiny guys were out front and you could feed them some carrots for a buck so we all took a turn! They were greedy little buggers, but very funny!

The pony drooled allll over Hide and he wasn't able to wash his hands for a while!! YUMMM!

This horse, named Happy, was being cleaned by his owner. She was very friendly and talked to us about all the horses! We really appreciated her help! Isn't he a beauty??

Miharu had the best connection with this horse! They were *actually* dancing together!!!!!!!!!!
The horse was going back and forth so Miharu copied him and they both kept it up! The friendly woman told us the horse was ready to go outside and run around a bit! (Her rider, a girl of maybe 14 had won a lot of ribbons riding this horse!! Very impressive!!)

This is Heavenly!!!! I loveeeeeeeeeeee this horse!! I'm definitely going up to visit him again!! Everyone was really sweet and let me take my time until I could pet him all up and down his neck and face! But any time the others would reach out to him he would shirk away a bit or scare them by pushing his nose at their hands. I think he was just trying to get used to their smell. Once I could pet his neck the friendly lady said he had gotten used to me! The joke for the rest of the day (thanks Mi!) was that he was my boyfriend! =D

This was Zelda! I really love this picture!! Miharu and Zelda just stared at each other, sizing each other up for a few minutes in total silence! We said they were communicating telepathically!! Soul mates?? I think so!!

When we moved around to the outside of the barn to move on and see the other sites, someone noticed that Heavenly had walked to the other side of his 'room' and stuck his head out! I ran over to give him another pat and tell him goodbye! I hope I get to see him again!! I could have spent all day there!!!

From the top of the horse park, the view was amazing!! Nothing but mountains and sunshine that day!! We were very lucky!!

After the horse park we went over to a massive cave that you can walk through! But first we decided to climb down and soak our feet in the 'healthy, fresh spring cave water.' The problem was... it was FREEZING!!! =D

We only lasted three or four minutes before strapping the shoes back on and moving through!

The entrance to the cave features a giant, SMOKE-BREATHING, RED-EYED dragon! We were so scared!! ;)
There's also a bunch of statues of famous men and gods off to the right.

It's the year of the cow... so naturally there were wooden cows to pose with up front... naturally... =D

It's working?? Really??? Gosh, I'd hate to think how it could break!! ;)

This sign cracked me up! If you did it you could see some small stalagmites. Miharu decided to model for us how it works!

And then we had a run-in (TWO, actually) with a BAT!! Ohhh yes! Flying low and over our heads! I jumped in Mi's lap a few times! Just from this picture I'm sure you can imagine how preposterous it looked, LOL!

Still inside the cave!! After we left we visited the souvenir shop (just like Disneyland, the cave actually ended *in* the souvenir shop) and bought some good stuff!! Miharu bought a towel (very popular here to keep in your purses to wipe your hands with rather than use paper towels in the ladies' rooms) and I bought some chocolate rocks to share!! YUM!!

After the cave we visited Miharu's new apartment for about an hour and watched an EXILE concert DVD she got! Then it was off to meet Asumi for an authentic Spanish dinner!! We all sampled a little bit of everything and this was what was on the menu that night:
~Garlic soup
~Bread with bruschetta (tomato, onion, and some spices... I think) =D
~Baked scallops
~Baked shrimp with garlic oil and spices
~Ham salad (slices of ham 'on' a salad)
~Spanish Omelet
~Beef stew with bread
~Seafood Pallea
~Mushroom Pallea

LOL, sorry the picture was sideways!! This is what was left of the seafood pallea and our plates! Naturally the seafood was all fresh and DELICIOUS!! I couldn't believe how BIG the shimp, scallops, and others were!!

Dessert was your choice of sinfully amazing chocolate pudding or a 'rare cheese' pot with honey!! I had the chocolate but traded Asumi a bite of hers for a bite of mine! They were both good but that chocolate was by far the best I've had here in Japan!! Not too sweet, just pure and perfect!!

Asumi and Miharu showing off the mushroom pallea before we dug into it!! It was so nice to see Asumi! Hide was tired and since he was driving we had to leave her after only 2 hours, but we're going to hang out again in a couple of weeks and we'll see the hijinx we get into then!! I can't wait!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Amazing, the Stupendous, the Exalted: DISNEYSEA!!!!

DisneySea is by far the best park I've ever been to! It's the best Disney park because it embodies what is amazing about ALL the parks! There's the cute characters like Magic Kingdom, the Broadway-caliber shows that far surpass anything at Hollywood Studios, the alcohol like Epcot, and the baddest 'Disney caliber' rides from Animal Kingdom!

There's a massive mountain (hey Everest!), an Indiana Jones ride reminiscent of Dinosaur, a crazy Little Mermaid show that mixes the puppetry of Finding Nemo with the acrobatics of Lion King, Tower of Terror, and a roller-coaster with a 360 degree loop!!

But there's MORE!! You can meet more obscure characters here than any other park (including the Three Cabelleros, Marie from the Aristocats, Genie, and more!)!
There's also almost TEN different flavors of flavored popcorn, including: curry, soda, black pepper, chocolate, strawberry, caramel, cappacino, and cheddar!

Did I mention the TWO water shows?? I think no one has ever seen shows like these!! I took videos of both but they will take forever to upload so I recommend youtubing BraviSEAmo and The Legend of Mystica! They've both been taped by people with better equipment than mine, LOL!

I was so very impressed by this park! I can't wait to go back!! The layout is so massive, too! Basically, each place is a different sea port! I don't remember the official names, so we're going with my nicknames for the places. There's :
~Old New England (which looks just like Plymouth and has a Cape Cod Clam Restaurant!);
~Old New York (which features a Broadway caliber jazz show and a replica of a massive Titanic-esque ship!);
~Morocco (with gorgeous mosaics on every roof!)
~Pirate Bay (with a ship, and the Indiana Jones ride!)
~Future Bay (with a cool simulator ride),
~Ariel's Grotto (a huge underground amusement park!)
~Italy (complete with gondolas and delicious foods!!)

There's also a castle in the center of the park that's for "explorers" who want to learn about science! VERY fun for geeky me!!

Let's get started, walking back down memory lane, shall we?

This slayed me right off the bat! In the first store: Minnie Mouse as Lady Liberty!
And yes, they also sell these in New York City!

This retro bus is the one that took us to our hotel! Everything was Mickey, of course!

The center of the entrance of the park has an enormous, spinning globe that is also a fountain!
You can't tell, but water is coming out of the very top and gives the globe a very shiny, cool look!

Unlike Disney World in Florida, these Disney parks don't always do year-long celebrations! If you want to see the current celebration, you've only got three months to do it! The theme? SPRING CARNIVAL!!

This mountain is also a dark ride with a big drop at the end! It's called "Journey To The Center
Of the Earth" and has a huge animatronic bug that is as scary as that old Alien ride at Magic Kingdom!

Walking in through Italy. Lots of pretty things to see!!

Minnie and Daisy's flower stalls!!

This store was so cool! There was an English speaking fan who worked HAND-CUTTING silhouette's out of delicate paper! He must have had such a steady hand!!

Did I mention the castle looks like it's from the Renaissance?? And notice the pirate ship!

In the center of the mountain is an alcove with another amazing ride: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!
I just love the theming, too!!

This restaurant has "lava" in the title and looked very cool, but a little too pricey for us that day.

We're slowing descending a winding ramp "under" water!

This is the contraption that will take us "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!!"
It was a killer ride with outstanding special effects!! I couldn't resist repeatedly shreaking,

Having a meditative moment in front of some ancient ruins by the Indiana Jones ride!

Raging Spirits: This compact coaster had a 360 degree loop that I did twice because there was no real heights involved! It was so fun! Now I feel confident to try Rock'n Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios, too!

Off to Morocco!! This camel made the cutest noises!

This was an amazing two-story carousel! You could ride camels, elephants, gryffins, lions, and GENIE!

The view from the carousel. NOTICE GENIE RUNNING THROUGH THE PICTURE????
When the ride finished Cris and I actually ran after him! We didn't get him, but even better, we got Jasmine and Aladdin!

They were sooo nice!!

Back to Raging Spirits! Hooray for Fastpass!!

Minnie and Mickey near Morocco and the Sinbad ride! Aren't they adorable??

The "mascots" for Morocco are Genie and Chandu, this adorable baby tiger!
Cris models the hat, giving us her most tigerish face!

The carousel from the outside. Isn't it crazy gorgeous??
Notice all the flowers in front of it? The top of it has a topiary Jasmine!!

Just the entrance to Ariel's underground playland. Outside we saw something that was so amazing. I'll bet none of you have seen it before!!


My camera couldn't get a great shot of the area, but I tried! The theming was adorable and 'under the sea!'
Of course!

The ups and downs of the jelly fish!

I'M HOME!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!

I loved this part soooo much!! It felt like a perfect replica or New England! Way to go, Diz!

There was a random Mexican restuarant near the Indiana Jones ride and the somewhat Mayan temple.
Guess who came out and tapped my arm while I was studying the park map???
MEXICAN DONALD!!! (AKA, one of the three Cabelleros!)

Cabellero #2

And #3!

As Steph already knows, you can also meet Max there!!
I got this picture just for her!! =D

The great ship Columbia!

Along the pier-side of The Columbia they had a super cute show with Minnie and Daisy!
I believe they were doing Madonna's Vogue at this part of the show!
And notice the Stitch that is pinned in this girl's hair in front of the camera?
I got one, too! In fact, it fell off during the tea cup ride at Disneyland the day before and we got to go again!!
Have I told you this story already??

How adorable and obscure! Bernard and Biance from The Rescuers, outside of Tower!

How cute is Marie's nose, all crinkled up?? CHO KAWAII!!!!

Italy at sunset?? Don't mind if I do!!

Meandering near the gondolas, still hanging in Italy ,searching for dinner!

We just missed the Spring Carnival show, but caught everyone parading backstage!

More topiaries!

The Blue Fairy!

The Columbia all lit up at night!!

Playing on the turrets of the Explorer's Castle, Cris and I came upon a Flying Machine!!
It gave her quite a workout, but she never quite lifted off!

Pinnochio, Gepetto, AND JIMINY CRICKET were hanging in Italy earlier in the day!

Cris's favorite picture from The Legend of Mythica show!

There were actually four massive floats portraying different mythical creatures. The others were a dragon and... oh man, I can't remember! Just youtube the video, you won't be sorry!! It's really amazing!! (And don't forget that Disney loves to start slowly and build! So either fast forward or hunker down. Either way, you'll love it!! =D

BraviSEAmo tells a love story of two ancient gods, one of water, and one of fire. The pictures are stunning but don't do this show justice! I spent the entire 15 minutes with mouth agaping, and in absolute AWE!!
She was massive!
***SPOILER ALERT::: Because I can appreciate seeing something so moving for the first time, I recommend that if you're coming to visit me and see this show, please DON'T view the video or read the comments below the picture as they contain spoilers that are just stunning when seen in person!!***

As the God of Fire appears, he sends fire and fireworks out of the top of Journey's Moutain, too!! AMAZING!!

The God of Fire is a dragon that shoots fire from all over his body but he actually RAISES UP from the center of the lake!!! How they do this, I have no idea! You'd think the metal would rust, being in their all day, but somehow it works!! ABSOLUTELY KILLER TO SEE if you don't know it's coming!!

The dragon is shooting fire down from his wings while the god of water is doing a little dance.
Did I mention the music?? It's moving, inspiring, and scintillating!!

After the finale there was a fireworks show, too!! SUGOI!!

The Hotel Miracosta opens into Disneysea! This is a picture of us (and some crowd) heading out after an amazing day!!

Spring Carnival Minnie and Mickey topiaries! Beautiful!!

This was the best day I've ever had at any park! I can't wait to go back and do it again with you!!!! =D