成程 (Naru Hodo) - IC in Japan^H^H Cote d'Azur^H^H USA

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nintendo DS lite...


Finally my long awaited Nintendo DS arrived and I started to play my first game in Japanese. The game I choose is 悪魔城ドラキュラ (Akuma shiro dorakyura - engl. title Castlevania). I heared that some people bought a Nintendo DS only to play Castlevania, so it has to be a really good game :-). So far (I am about half way through the introductionary dialog) I am quite happy with the story. It is rated for age 12, so I hope I will be easy enough so I am able to play it. The Japanesese words used in the game so far are ok, but it really should not get more difficult. Especially the small Kanji are difficult to read (and hence very difficult to lookup int the electronic kanji dictionary...)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

相撲 (Sumo) Tournament

Today we went to a Sumo Tournament, which was held in a special building, Ryogoku Kokugikan - Tokyo. Actually the tournament lasts for about two weeks and is held in a different place every 2 month: Ryogoku, Osaka, Ryokoku, Aichi, Ryokoku, Fukuoka. For more information, have a lookt at official Sumo website(in English).
At the entrance, visitors are greeted by larger than life images of famous Sumo ringers. But also in real those guys are quite large, both in circumfence and actual height.
They are quite popular in Japan. And even have ther own action figures and collectables.
Dispite their fame they are very "normal" and friedly, sympathetic people and it can happen that one of them just stands in front of you in the line to buy a bento (lunch packet) or a train ticket and chats with you.
The ringers have a very strict hierarchical structure and Sumo day starts in the morning with the trainees and lowest ranking Sumos. They have a time limit of 1 minute and less people come to watch, but that does not prevent the fighters to have some really serious fights (click image for video clip).
The fights take place on a ring under a roof, that is hanging from the ceiling and resembles a shrine. Originaly, some 1500 years ago, the roots of Sumo come from temple dances. Hence the roof. The stage is still considered sacred and common people should not enter. Before the actual fight the fighters clean themselfes and the stage ritually by washing their mouths by throwing salt.
Around three o'clock the high ranking Sumos enter the stage in coloful robes (actually only some cloth on the front) and are greeted by the enthusiastic crowd like popstars (click image for video clip).
For the final matches the huge hall is stuffed with people. The atmosphere is pretty dense and the Sumo have some very intense fights.

Friday, May 19, 2006

ice cream

It is tradition among us interns, to go for a short break in the local convenient store every day around 4 o'clock and have a small snack there. Almost every time, the Japanese food designers surprise us with stunning new food creations like that really cute teddy bear ice cream... :-P