Thousands of Miles from Home


Sushi Parties and Fencing

First I want to mention that I added songs to the "music" section of the blog. Expect more soon.

This weekend, Tamano happened to play host to an all-japan fencing tournament, held at the fitness center near my house. Shoko and I found some time to go on the last day of the tournament. Neither of us had ever witnessed a fencing tournament, aside from my short-lived fencing career on a trip to Hollywood with the MHS drama club a few years ago. Upon entering the arena I received an informational packet (in japanese) about fencing, with enough pictures and basic terminology to figure out the object of the sport. We arrived to watch the early morning matches, so luckilly the crowd was not very large. We took our seats near the front of a raised seating section and waited for the bouts to begin.

Eight fencers squared off in four matches on four different sections of the gym floor. A judge was designated to each match in order to determine the scoring. The fencers wore protective suits fitted with some sort of sensors that set off a buzzer after being pierced or slashed by their opponent. Often the action was hard to follow because of the player's overall speed. Both buzzers would ring simultaneously, and without the guidance of the judge I wouldn't have had any idea who had scored the point. After all the matches were over, Shoko and I walked around the area for a while then went home.

That evening, Shoko's mother threw a small party at a local tea house. Shoko explained that the party was called Bo nen kai (meaning to forget the year, or perhaps wish it farewell). I should also mention that shops everywhere are overflowing with roosters and chickens, signs of the 2005 Chinese new year. We arrived at the tea house and were guided to a large tatami room full of people I didn't recognize. We sat on large pillows on the floor of the room. I answered the usual questions about myself, where I was from, if I could eat japanese food, and how long I had been in japan. The tea house specialized in sushi, and along with a main course of fish and mushrooms I left feeling very satisfied.

During the dinner, my host mom nudged me and asked which of the women sitting on the opposite side of the table I thought liked Yon-sama. Yon-sama (real name Bae Yong Joon, or something similar) is an extremely famous actor in a korean drama, along the lines of "The Young and the Restless." He's famous for wearing sleek glasses and a scarf, and for a while I thought about going dressed as him for Halloween. When Yon-sama arrived at Tokyo's Haneda airport, 4500 people showed up, some waiting overnight, to get a glimpse at the star. In a recent poll, the average age of women who liked Yon-sama turned out to be 46.7. I made some guesses based on personality as to which women liked Yon-sama, and after my host mom asked each if they liked him I turned out to be pretty close.


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