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Published: November 25th 2007
Drawing so close to the end that I can almost feel the stench of the horrible airline-omelet already. Still, I have one more string to play before the bungy-cord inevitably swings me back across the frozen tundras of Siberia all the way back home to a dreary, miserable and cold November. Still, the good thing about an elastic cord is that it really doesn't manage to keep you in place for long. Anyhow, although I could have made this a fairly lazy day I was determined to end it on a high, and my trip to Kyushu island really could not be considered complete unless I topped it with le grand finale de la Kyushu Basho. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, it is time for a sumo blog again!
Although I woke up with a painful headache I chucked down an aspirin and proceeded to pack up and check out unusually early (for me being me, that is...) and marched down along the peaceful Kumamoto streets towards the main railway station in the cozy sunshine. Before long I was breaking a sweat, but I didn't have temperature so I figured all would be okay once I got underway. Down
at the station the plan worked better than anticipated and I got a seat on Relay Tsubame number 40 bound for Hakata
in less than ten minutes and by ten thirty I was kissing the sunlit silhouette of Kumamoto station goodbye, clearly impressed with how simple things work out around here.
As we approached Kami-Kumamoto station in the northern part of town I was accompanied by an elderly gentleman and we soon came to talk in somewhat broken English. I had offered to place his bag in the overhead compartment and it shocked him to the degree that he mourned the state of the manners of the young Japanese. Before he would get any incorrect notions about European people I quickly explained to him that we are all self-centered spoiled brats as well. Still, our meeting did inspire him as he told me that he must learn more English. From my limited run-ins with the Japanese I have also come to a similar conclusion; I'd need to learn at least some more Japanese. A little basic understading of spoken Japanese will get you a long way in this country, and it would be so much more rewarding. I have
met a number of charming and curious people here where our language difficulties held us back. It would seem though, that most people understand more English than they feel comfortable to speak.
We came to talk about sumo (of course...) and time passed quickly while I showed him some of my favourite photos from last week. After a long and firm handshake we parted ways at Hakata station where he continued to the Nozomi ultra-fast shinkansen bound for Nara where he would take part in a ceremony at one of the many temples. And for me, no rest for the wicked. I hurried down the stairs to the subway and was soon at the entrance to my old cozy Monterey Le Sour hotel where I would spend my last night in this country. I arrived at 12.30, and of course check in wasn't until three pm, but it didn't bother me in the slightest as I just dumped my bags and headed out on town again. My destination; the Kokusai Center. Mission: Acquire an arena ticket. Price: Irrelevant.
The sun continued to shine on me here in Fukuoka and it was pleasant to walk around a town that
The temperature's rising
The Sanyaku (the top-ranking rikishi) are out to greet the audience and thank them for coming
I already knew quite well, almost felt a little bit like coming home. Over at the Kokusai center I was approached by black market ticket sellers who I brushed aside and headed for the ticketing office (where they really don't speak any
English). In fact, this is the only place where I have failed to get my intent across, usually a little combination of Japlish and smiles will help, but these big ex-riskishi don't take to charm offensives that easily. Wait...
the man said and asked me to step aside so that he could service the next customer. But just like last time a door opened and a woman speaking fluent English appeared and helped me out to secure a perfect seat in the Shomen section (the side which the rikishi and officials face during all ceremonies). We came to chat a bit and she told me she had been touring the Baltic States recently and found it very beautiful and interesting. Quite an opposite message than the one carried by those of my colleagues who feel dismayed of having to go there...
I headed back to Tenjin to grab a quick bite before heading back to the arena
That's gotta hurt!
Koryu (JE8) takes care of Toyozakura (JW1)
in time for the Juryo bouts to begin. I had secured a B-Box seat at 10300 yen (95 USD) which would give me a really good view of the coming bouts. However, the matches themselves were a bit on the disappointing side. As is usually the case at the end of a tournament, as the results are becoming clear to the Rikishi they adapt their tactics thereafter. Their nerves often result in false starts and cheap tricks such as jumping to the side and pushing down your opponent instead of giving him a fair fight. Also, two of the ozeki had withdrawn from the tournament and the third could pick up a walk-over win so there was not much heavy action. What we did get to witness though, was the yokozuna Haukho losing to ozeki Kotomitsuki and I finally got to experience what it feels like when people throw their purple zabuton
(cushions) all over the place. There were also lengthy ceremonial awards to the best rikishi and I also got a good glimpse of the motorcade sending the celebrating yokozuna into the night. There was nothing left for me to do here in Fukuoka, in Japan, than returning to
Down and out!
Iwakiyama (JE1) vs. Shirononami (JW10)
the hotel, patch up the blog and try to get a good few hours of sleep.
The plane to Narita departs at 7 am in the morning, and I am sure that everything taken care of by ANA will run smoothly, just as I expect everything will slowly go to hell when Scandinavian Airlines takes over. I wouldn't wager a whole lot of money on there being a taxi waiting for me at the airport in Gothenburg for example. Ho-hum.
All that remains now, however, is to say goodnight, sayonara and see you again soon!
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