A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7

Got to lie in this morning, which was nice. Went to breakfast with Fergus. Quickly washed my hair before the meeting then headed over. Meeting was fine, little boring but fine. Thinking of organising a Christchurch tournament. Seems tricky, the main problem is where to hold it honestly. Because it was almost time for lunch post-meeting, Fergus went for a run and I went to relax.

After lunch, Fergus and I met up with the Guatemalans and the Argentinians to go to the Nihon Ki-in. It was pretty nice hanging out with them. They taught me a little bit of Spanish on the walk over. We didn’t play at the Nihon Ki-in, but I bought two new go books to study a little bit with.
Tiny go boards at the Nihon Ki-in

Tiny go boards at the Nihon Ki-in


They knew where a go club was we could play for free at, so we headed there instead. Turns out someone they were playing with in the Araki Cup (was happening simultaneously to the main tournament) ran this go club and told them to come play for free. But the lady at the desk didn’t speak any English, and it was ~$45 to play, so we yeeted it out of there, because that’s nonsense. Was also pretty gross, everyone smoking inside. They wanted to check out Akihabara, so we headed on over. The Argentinian man thought it would be cool to go see an arcade, so we went inside. They played a few games, but then I had to get back to the hotel for dinner with Shinobu, so I had to dash.
The Argentinian woman at the arcade

The Argentinian woman at the arcade

At the arcade

At the arcade

A Kiwi, a Guatemalan, and an Argentinian at the Akihabara arcade

A Kiwi, a Guatemalan, and an Argentinian at the Akihabara arcade

Shinobu was already there by the time I got there, so I got into his car. He was with a friend (whose name I forgot). We went to dinner out in Yokohama, which was about an hour away by car. There was some terrible traffic so it took a little longer. Speaking of terrible, Shinobu was the worst driver I have ever seen. He was speeding, driving with the phone map in his hand, taking phone calls, driving one-handed the whole time, almost never using his indicators, and turning down streets he couldn’t turn down. For that last one he got pulled over by the police - a fun 7000 yen fine. They took me to a fancy Japanese-style restaurant, and got a meal called shabushabu. It was all thoroughly fancy and was very filling! There was so much food! Shinobu planned on taking us to the big ferris wheel nearby. He said it was the largest in Japan, but the third largest isn’t bad at all. Unfortunately it had just closed when we arrived.
Shabushabu

Shabushabu

Shabushabu part 2

Shabushabu part 2

On the way back, it was back to the speeding! At one point he hit 80 in a 40km zone, and 120 in a 60km zone. It was quite scary. Very fast lane changes too. Almost got a pedestrian as well (looking at his phone). So that was fun. I was dropped off at the hotel and went straight to the go room! We’d arranged to meet a bunch of other pairs to play at 8. I was a little late but there were plenty of people still there.
Playing Go into the wee hours

Playing Go into the wee hours

Late go playing with the Slovakians

Late go playing with the Slovakians


I was up till 11:30, but then had to bail because of my early flight the next morning. I packed and got ready to leave, then went to sleep.

Posted by boredgoldfish 01:32 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Day 6

I may have stayed up a little too late last night, so I was a bit tired today. Ate breakfast fast alone (Fergus was more organised than me), then quickly got into my dress and headed downstairs. I was about five minutes late, so I had to walk in while the speeches were happening (bad look). Fergus was already there, but neither of the French (our first game of the day) were there till twenty minutes later, so I felt a little better. During the speeches, they told us the female judge from the last twenty-odd years had passed away a month earlier. She was lovely. I never really talked to her but she was such a recognisable face of the tournament.

The first game, against the French, I thought we might have been able to win, but we both made maybe six mistakes apiece which were too big to come back from. Lunch today was worse. By the time we played Slovakia I was tired (the Slovakian man was late, out smoking), but by the time we played Finland my brain was shattered! The Finns were really nice to play against. We’d chatted to them at the party last night, so it was lovely to play against them. We had no real chance against either the Slovakians or the Finns, they were both very strong. It was bloody cold during the Finnish game though! She asked for his jacket partway through, and Fergus, like twenty moves later, decided he should also be chivalrous and offered me his jacket. I didn’t take it, but it was quite cold.

The French

The French


The Slovakians

The Slovakians


The Finns

The Finns

And that’s pretty much the day? I didn’t go to the party, my brain was fried. I kinda just went to sleep.

Posted by boredgoldfish 01:31 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Day 5

We've finally come to the business end (business middle?) of the holiday. Finally met Fergus over breakfast! He was very tall, moustached, and good company. We had a lovely chat. Then back to the room to shower and get dressed. There was a moment of frantic armpit shaving when I realised how unkempt it was. Down in the lobby before heading in, I felt a little overdressed. Most women were in blazers and trousers, not dresses. Fergus dressed up quite smartly (it was his wedding suit). We had our photo taken then went in to sit down.

When we saw we had to play a Japanese pair first, our hopes were very low. They stayed low as we lost. Midway through the game, Shinobu from go club showed up! He watched and took some photos, so some might get emailed to me, you never know.
Intense go faces

Intense go faces


Our Japanese opponents

Our Japanese opponents


We eventually resigned. Afterwards we had bento boxes (lunch boxes) and stayed at the go table to chat. They were in gorgeous traditional outfits they had hired. They were really lovely to chat to, as they spoke quite good English. She was studying to become an engineer and he was becoming a doctor. Shinobu told me he had to go, but we arranged to meet for dinner at 5pm on Monday. He had bought dad a present of sake and me a present of chocolates, which was very thoughtful of him. The bento boxes were pretty dire for me. White rice was good, as was the breaded chicken. Couldn't do the rest though, but I got something inside me.

Second game was against the Guatemalan pair, who were brother and sister. She and I kept kicking each other under the table by mistake during the game. We actually won the game by resignation, which felt really good!
Our Guatemalan opponents

Our Guatemalan opponents


The Argentinian coach helped us with the review and gave us some very nice pointers (lesson: you can't always kill everything, and yes it would be great, but just because it worked this time doesn't mean it'll work again). Post game, it was time for us to get into our national costumes. Fergus and I timed it nicely so we went down together.
Americans   us

Americans + us


The goodwill game went well I thought. I played with a professional ("big dawg!" -Fergus), and against a pair of a small Japanese girl and the Thai student boy. She was very strong, and her Thai pair was alright. Thank goodness for translators being available, we could actually communicate after the game! The professional gave the other three of us fans, which was very kind of him. Next time I definitely should bring presents for the people I play.
The big dawg himself   me

The big dawg himself + me

Party time! Now, these parties I reckon are the worst part of the whole weekend. Constant announcements and speeches, no chairs, terrible food, feel bad if you're talking but feel bored if you're listening. And it just keeps going. And your feet are in pain because you picked bad shoes. After I saw someone wearing crocs, however, I realised it really didn't matter. So I went shoeless, and god my feet have never felt so free. Had a nice chat to the other pairs, got some orange juice, had a good time. Dinner looked terrible.

The only thing that went wrong with my shoe-less plan: the lady in charge of picking the best dressed pair spotted me, and my lack of shoes. Nothing bad happened, but I think it was definitely Noted. "No shoes?" she asked. I didn't know what to say, so I just said "no". She then stared at me, touched my cloak, asked "where is your partner?" in a very abrubt fashion. Now, earlier in my emails, the organisers had asked if anyone wanted to sing for Mr and Mrs Taki's 30th anniversary (the inventor of pair go and his wife). I had said no but Fergus had said yes, so he was occupied, about to go onstage to sing. I pointed him out, and all she said was "yes, I see." So, my hopes were not high. The singing was... abysmal. It was the classic Pair Go Song, but there were like 15 people singing and they were all miked at different levels and with dramatically differently singing abilities. There were also only like four women, so for the parts were only women sang it was... dire. Fergus held a tune alright though.
Group photo

Group photo

After the party, some pairs were wanting to go to a bar and sing karaoke. Fergus and I thought we'd be wild and tag along. I grabbed dinner from the convenience store while we were waiting for them. Karaoke ended up being about $60, so Fergus and I bailed. Martin, the head of the European Go Federation, offered to pay for me, but I declined as it would be pretty wasted on me (I'm not a fan of singing or drinking!). Fergus was a fan of sleep, so I just headed back to my room and relaxed until I fell asleep.

Posted by boredgoldfish 00:46 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Day 4

Day four already! Starting to get into it now. Checked out of the hostel a bit past 9 (and by checked out, I mean I left the key and just walked out with my things), grabbed breakfast, and headed to the tournament hotel. Check in was easy, and it was nice to see the organizers again. Managed to ask the Germans where they were from twice, after I forgot what they looked like.

Some interesting countries in this year. Croatia, Madagascar, Mongolia and Guatemala are the standouts for me. In the students tournament, the Czech pair from last year are back which is nice, and the man from Canada is back in the main tournament. It always makes me feel uncomfortable how they call Taiwan Chinese Taipei in the program... Guess we've got to keep China happy? My photo in the program is terrible, my nose is huge and I look like a mess/high. Worse things to be? Think we miiight have a shot at best dressed this year? Apparently Fergus bought All Black branded shorts, so we might look vaguely decent. My hopes are low.

Waited for the free lunch at 11:30, then rolled out of the restaurant and headed for the Studio Ghibli museum! Pretty excited. Real talk for a minute though - your phone charging brick is useless if you put the cable in your suitcase. My pocket Japanese dictionary, Holly and Bella, told me what "dozo" means (here you go), and upon presenting my ticket with a casual "dozo", the lady behind the desk assumed I was fluent enough to understand her instructions. Dozo is a dangerous weapon.

The museum was pretty nice. Very nice architecture! The building really adds to it all. We weren't allowed to take photos inside, only outside. Not sure if it was worth all the time and effort? But I'm glad to have gone once. They played a very cute film about a dough man and an egg, and it was very sweet in the classic Ghibli way.
Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli Museum

Stairway up to roof of Studio Ghibli building

Stairway up to roof of Studio Ghibli building

The Iron Giant on the roof of the Studio Ghibli Museum

The Iron Giant on the roof of the Studio Ghibli Museum

Car charging near the Studio Ghibli Museum

Car charging near the Studio Ghibli Museum


Mitaka, the city it's in, seems reasonably sized, but nothing other than the museum seems really advertised. Still can't get over how cute the kids walking home from school are. I headed back to the hotel to officially check in, unpack, and take a bit of a breather. My next expedition is to an art gallery at 4, so I didn't have much time to relax! Took my time relaxing so was a bit late getting there. The art gallery was... weeeeeeeird. Yayoi Kusama is and was a very troubled woman. Lots of art I couldn't photograph and some I could. Definitely worth it though. On the fifth (and final) floor there was a little reading room, and I found an English autobiography and enjoyed that until it closed.
Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's ladder

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin (  sky)

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin (+ sky)

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin

Inside the Yayoi Kusama gallery

Inside the Yayoi Kusama gallery

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama's lift (she was a big fan of polka dots)

Yayoi Kusama's lift (she was a big fan of polka dots)

After I took the train back to the hotel, it was dinner time! The buffet at the hotel was so good. Wouldn't pay $100 for it though! Tried a few new foods (gingered pork, carbonara, and some other beef-based dish) but the lasagna was the real smash hit. I made friends with the bartender, Donald, who was from Nigeria but had worked in this hotel most of his life. He convinced me to try a weird drink called calpis. It was white, pronounced like "cow piss", and was mixed with water, so my hopes we very low. I thought someone had just ordered a milk and water for a minute. It was actually quite good! I had it with soda water, and it tasted just like Sprite. Very sweet! Took a few minutes to call Harry and then it was off to dancing!

Fergus, my pair, wanted to meet in an hour when he got to the hotel but I really wanted to go dancing. I got a little lost trying to find it, and asked at a nearby bar for directions. So weird that they smoke inside. They were really helpful though and showed me to the right building (should have just walked down the street a bit further). It was lovely! Quite expensive for what it was though (¥1500). The teacher was very English, Justin. There were initially two other students but a third arrived later. It was in an old bar which had been converted into a dance studio. Apparently the salsa teachers were working their way through the whiskey supply! The other students were lovely - a German lady called Mike-a, a Japanese lady whose name I forgot, and an Australian man called Murray who arrived right near the end. The expats spoke perfect English and presumably perfect Japanese, while the Japanese lady only spoke a little English. Justin taught me a fairly complicated leading sequence, we had lots of free dance, then I taught them steals (two leads dancing with one follow) and hijacks (where the follow hijacks a move midway through). They were all quite good dancers, although they all danced in Justin's style as everyone in Tokyo was taught by only him. I step twice as much as they did, but I calmed down a little more for leading. I stayed quite late, and got back to the hotel a little after 11. Perhaps a bad omen for the first day of games tomorrow.
Tired selfie on the way back to the hotel

Tired selfie on the way back to the hotel

Posted by boredgoldfish 00:37 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Day 3

Crack of dawn start, again. 5:30 this time. These thin hostel mattresses are starting to get annoying. Can’t wait for a proper bed in the hotel for the tournament. Don't think I woke anyone else in the hostel up, but since the person to my right kept their light on all night (it was spilling onto my eyes, really hard to get to sleep), I think people in here can sleep through anything. Made it to Ota City alright, got to take the monorail which was fun. Tried to take a photo on the bridge, and what do you know, I managed to grab the faulty camera that says it's got lots of charge but dies as soon as you try to take a photo. Not happy!
Bridge across the river near Ota Market

Bridge across the river near Ota Market

Getting into the auction house was a bit confusing, but I got there in the end. Really abandoned place on the level I was allowed on (lvl 2) - thank goodness for signs directing me to the visitor route. On their website it said to let the guard know I was there & to ask for a pamphlet, but I couldn't find anyone to ask so I just had a wander.
Corridor at the Ota Market

Corridor at the Ota Market


I got inside right before it started, 7am, so I got to watch them all getting ready. An announcement came on at 7 sharp, then all the auction workers bowed in unison and we were off to the races! There were two auction houses, one much more full and one quieter. This was the flower auction, as I didn't fancy getting up even earlier to get to the fish or fruit auctions. It was pretty bloody cool to watch, I've gotta say. Call me a nerd, but I enjoyed it! It was all so fastpaced.
Auction attendees

Auction attendees

Auction attendees

Auction attendees

One of two kinds of auction displays

One of two kinds of auction displays

The screens the auction attendees could see, with details about the flowers

The screens the auction attendees could see, with details about the flowers

The smaller side of Ota Market

The smaller side of Ota Market

Trucks waiting at Ota Market

Trucks waiting at Ota Market

The busier side of Ota Market

The busier side of Ota Market

Close up of the machines the bidders use at Ota Market

Close up of the machines the bidders use at Ota Market


This shelving unit of flowers moved on its own, the track it was on was a kind of mini-conveyer belt

This shelving unit of flowers moved on its own, the track it was on was a kind of mini-conveyer belt


Flower trucks waiting outside Ota Market

Flower trucks waiting outside Ota Market

Window at Ota Market

Window at Ota Market


I stayed there for a bit then headed to Anamori Inari Shrine. It was under repair so was a little disappointing. I grabbed some cutlets (little fried meat thingies) for breakfast and took the train to Nishi Rokugo Park.
Trains are cool

Trains are cool

Lovely walkway by the river

Lovely walkway by the river

Pretty avenue

Pretty avenue

Or I tried to, but Someone messed up which train to go on. No one else to blame but me I guess! Still got there, just took a little longer.

On the way to the park I found some cheap bananas from a nice man in a covered arcade. I think he made a joke about Chinese cabbages but I didn't understand. I managed to tell him I didn't want a plastic bag and he understood! Normally they're too quick for me to say anything. Their coins are so confusing, and I'm terrified to give them NZ money again by accident! The park itself was... disappointing. Which is a shame, but it's obviously aimed at kids so it's not really for me.
Tiny depressing playground I walked past on the way to Nishi Rokugo Park

Tiny depressing playground I walked past on the way to Nishi Rokugo Park

Beside the train tracks on the way to Nishi Rokugo Park

Beside the train tracks on the way to Nishi Rokugo Park


Nishi Rokugo Park

Nishi Rokugo Park

On the way back to the station, I passed a nursery and someone is playing piano, and it sounded like home. I stopped off to look at fish outside a tiny pet store and the man said "good morning" in Japanese to me and I can respond (I feel like my pronunciation is shit though). One of the men directing traffic (and by directing traffic, I mean he stood by a sign in high vis and a hard hat. I don't actually know what he's been told to do? Keep people out of that street he's in front of I guess) has like six teeth, and I had a quick chat when he said a few words of greeting in English. He thought I'm from Canada at first. I didn't know what he's saying in Japanese but it's nice to talk. I'm starting to recognise some of the characters on the signs I pass. This area was definitely not designed for tourists. There's a bench outside the station, which frankly is a miracle in itself. Maybe being obviously not from here is a good thing: that old man directing traffic never would have said hello if I looked like I belonged here. I feel like I can do this, on my own, all the bells and whistles. I'm navigating fine, after all.
Japanese street

Japanese street

Cigarette vending machines

Cigarette vending machines


Just a torii gate chilling

Just a torii gate chilling

Two more stops around Kawasaki to go, and it's only ten am. I'm going to go back to the hostel for a break after these I think, then wander around Tokyo for a bit.

Kawasaki Daishi was anything but disappointing. Was a total gem, so unexpected too! Took my breath away a bit. I was lucky enough to arrive while the monks were doing a daily ritual - fire and drums and changing and wow! Incredible to think that there are still monks carrying out old traditions all over the world. Huge temple grounds, a lovely wander around.
Kawasaki Daishi

Kawasaki Daishi

Front gate of Kawasaki Daishi

Front gate of Kawasaki Daishi

Pagoda inside Kawasaki Daishi

Pagoda inside Kawasaki Daishi

Graveyard at Kawasaki Daishi

Graveyard at Kawasaki Daishi

The front gates at Kawasaki Daishi

The front gates at Kawasaki Daishi

Next was a bit of a longer train hike to Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine. I almost missed it on my way past, serves me right for not looking up! It was really quite pretty. Not a super fan of the foxes, they look kinda creepy, but they were pretty cool!
Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

Lots of foxes

Lots of foxes

A smaller shrine at Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

A smaller shrine at Keihin Fushimi Inari-jinja Shrine

Lots of foxes

Lots of foxes

More foxes

More foxes

Tiny torii gates (well, big enough for a person to walk through)

Tiny torii gates (well, big enough for a person to walk through)

Tiny torii gates leading to a tiny shrine

Tiny torii gates leading to a tiny shrine

The front torii gate

The front torii gate

It was a really hot day so I grabbed an ice cream on my way back to the hostel. I got to the hostel by maybe 3:30, and I just crashed. Long day! I headed out again a bit later on, to a go salon I had found online. It seemed relatively cheap. It was in Sunshine City, a ginormous shopping mall complex smushed together with an office building. The go salon was on the 9th floor. There was an aquarium and planetarium on the roof, which I didn't investigate since it was a little late. It was really quiet at the salon, only the owner and his daughter and three other gentlemen. I played a game against the owner and two against his daughter, all of which I lost (through my own dumb mistakes against her). On my way home, I stopped off for a bit to watch this water jet display that Sunshine City just seemed to have running constantly. It was pretty cool how they timed it to the music.
On the way to Sunshine City

On the way to Sunshine City

Part of the water show at Sunshine City

Part of the water show at Sunshine City

Busy Tokyo near Sunshine City

Busy Tokyo near Sunshine City

Dinner, then home. It's pretty frustrating how they add tax after the advertised prices. Packed up some of my stuff for moving hotel tomorrow, then slept.

Posted by boredgoldfish 00:29 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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