Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Unique Cultural Experiences: Sumo and クジラ (kujira)

It's only been six months since we were in Japan, but it feels like a much more distant memory. While in Tokyo, we partook in two unique cultural experiences there: a Sumo tournament, and a meal of クジラ (kujira). Without googling kujira, check out the photos of the meat below, and try to guess what animal it is from. Answers at the bottom.

We bought the cheapest Sumo tickets available (literally, the farthest row back in the nosebleeds), but it was still a blast. Your ticket entitles you to freely roam as you like for the duration of the day, and the drunken Aussies sitting next to us had clearly been there all day crushing bottles of Kirin and Asahi like water. Entertaining! And with the aid of Anita's binoculars, we were quite surprised to see some top tier sumo wrestlers competing that day were in fact caucasian.

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Typical match would last maybe a few seconds. The longest one we saw lasted just shy of a minute, but most averaged much shorter.

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The ceremony and tradition in between matches and tiers of Sumo wrestlers was much longer than each match, but also very interesting.

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Still unsure as to what animal? That was a meal of whale, served both cooked (bbq steak), and sashimi style (body, and tail). Yes, Anita and I fully understand the controversial nature of Japan's whaling exploits... if it offends you, then you'll be even more upset to know that it tasted absolutely delicious! While I don't agree with Japan's whaling practices, my interest in strange food trumped my environmental concerns. We're all hypocrites and walking contradictions to some degree.

And below are a few film shots from this same day. All taken with the Kiev 88CM on Kodak Tri-X 400, developed in Rodinal 1+24 for 7:00min @ 68 deg. F.

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The Tokyo Skytree, as seen from a street in the Kappabashi area (kitchen town!) of Tokyo.

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