28. October 06. November
Friday 28 October – Don’t buy cheap furniture (at least not tables)
The language course ended a bit earlier today, in order for us to be gathered into groups and have an introduction and information on how to behave in the case of an earth quake by some of the senior level students. They later arranged a kind of a competition between the groups. We were shown true false statements of what to do in case of an earth quake. For instance, if you are cooking, and an earthquake starts, should you a) turn of the (prophane) oven first, or b) immediately take shelter (under the nearest table)? For some reason, b) is the correct answer. I guess the philosophy is along the same line as the Japanese cooking – they prefer teriyaki instead of biff tartar…
Later our class went bowling at Nakano along with some of the senior level students. And afterwards some of us we went to a Ishikaya (Japanese style eating place) to have something to eat.
Gerald, one of my classmates had been informed a bout a Halloween party in Shibuya, so we decided to go there the next day, and agreed to meet at the Hatchiko exit.
Saturday 30 October – My hair is blue as the Ocean…
I went to Ikebukuro along with one of my flatmates, Zed, to buy a dictionary and some costume for the Halloween party. We eventually managed to find some costumes in Sunshine city, an enormous underground shopping area east of Ikebukuro. We ended up buying it from a gigantic Toys’R’us shop.
I had agreed to meet Gerald at six o’clock in order to eat first. We did not see Gerald anywhere, so half an hour later, me and Zed decided to move on to get some food. Then we went to the club where the party was held. We struggled a bit to come in, but eventually got in. The place was really crowded. It turned out to be a Halloween party for university students. Well there you go, but hey – I am kind of a student too ;) It was good fun and cheap drinks - 500 Yen (30 NOK) for a Cuba Libre for instance. I even managed to find a couple of Wannabe (lookalike ME's). They obviously failed the most important detail - the color of my hair....And later in the evening there were a danceshow with some incredible stunning girls.
Monday 31 October - Prepaido Keitai Denwa (Prepaid mobile phone)
Went to Vodafone in Ikebukuro to see if I could get a hold of a mobile phone after the course. I was there on Friday as well, but in order to get to my Karate practice in time I had to give it up because the cue was expedited so slowly. Now I had almost two hours before my karate session, and only like 10 people ahead of me in the queue – plenty of time. Based on Fridays experience, I went out eating while waiting, and was rather discouraged discovering that only a couple of persons had been expedited meanwhile. I finally got my turn. I asked for a phone with prepaid card… The female assistant jogged lightfooted to get it for me. For some reason they don’t like this system her, so they only have a couple of ugly, primitive models that they throw at you. I didn’t like it, so I went for a one year contract one instead, accepting that It’ll cost me 4000 Yen to break the contract. This allowed me too chose amongst any model in their selection. What about this one, I asked – pointing at a cool slick model. Off the young lady went again. I discovered that it did not have TV, and was a bit disappointed. I explained it for her, and off she went to get the ultimat model, still smiling (you know, like the professional dancers or Iceskaters on TV – no matter how strenous exercise, they always manage to keep the smile). She was really cute and service minded and I got a model I can live with with, a Sharp 603SH with TV, Radio, MP3 and Internet. I guess Europe still have some way to go with their mobile phones... I was instructed to come to pick it up the day after, and paid 2100 Yen for the telephone itself (!). Considering that it is more advanced than any item I have possessed so far, I consider it rather cheap.
Tuesday 01 November – Military reinforcement from Norway
I went to Ikebukuro before the class in order to pick up my phone. Helena came along, as she was going to the bank. I took a queue ticket, and as earlier the queue was expedited really slooowly… I tried to approach one of the consultants waiving with the copy of the phone contract in front of his nose – but that didn’t impress him much. I tried to explain that I was only going to pick up my phone, but was told to wait my turn. I was running out of time (and patience) so I approached one of the other assistants, and she understood right away. It turned out that there were some errors on the contract – so we had to redo it, resulting in that I had to come back – again (!) in order to allow some time for them to process the contract.
Geir Rune arrived today, but his plane was delayed and he had some sleep to catch up, thus he skipped the Karatepractice. Being a good soldier (an Officer, mind you) he sleeps whenever he can, I guess. I had to skip as well because I had to pick up my new mobile phone.
Friday 04 November - Roppongi by night
Went out to eat with some of the classmates. Somebody suggested a drinking game and off we went, but unfortunately (luckily?) I had to leave in the middle of it, as I had agreed to meet Geir Rune for a Karate practice at 19:00. A rather unusual way to get in shape for a a such practice, you might say…
When I came to Ikebukuro, I met Geir Rune on his way back – It turned out that it was cancelled due to the upcoming All Japan tournament. Bah…. The worse thing is that they might even have said it repeatedly after the training throughout the entire week, with me and Geir Rune standing nodding like everyone else in the dojo, but being the only ones not getting the point. Agreed to meet the people from the dining earlier in Roppongi. And we met some of the them at club 911 later that evening. A bit strange place and atmosphere – most foreigners and some Japanese, most of them in their business suits.
Saturday 05 November 37th All Japan Open I
Me and Geir Rune went to Sendagaya to watch the All Japan Open (Karate) Tournament in the Tokyo Taikukan hall. The “Open” part signifies that there are no weight categories, thus there could be perhaps up to 50kg weight difference between the competitors. This makes it quite interesting, as it is full contact (imagine 50kg weight difference in Boxing for instance! It helps a bit though, that you are not allowed to hit the opponent in the face with your arms in fullcontact Karate, but still). The tournament is for Japanese, but the past few tournaments they have allowed a few “Gaijin” (foreigners) to compete. This year there are 128 participants whereas eight are foreigners, mostly Russians. It is a cup system, narrowing it down to only 32 remaining fighters after two rounds at the end of the day, whom will continue fighting the next day.
It was really impressive to watch the heavyweight champion from the European Championship in October this year (!), Artur Hovhanissian (Nidan from Armenia). Being in an extremely good physical condition and with exceptional techniques the first fight appear really uneven as he effortlessly "rolled" over his first opponent. Unfortunately he lost his second fight after accidently punching the opponent in the face a third time. Fabrice did well in both his matches and is ready for 3rd round tomorrow. Some of the Russian guys managed to go to the 3rd round as well.
Afterwards me and Geir Rune participated in a Kata seminar. We were around 170 persons all together. It was good, but we went through three new katas (Bassai Dai, Tekki Ichi and Ni), which was quite a lot to absorb during a one and a half hour session.
Sunday 06 November - 37th All Japan Open II
Went to Sendagaya with Helena and Geir Rune to see part II of the Tournament.
We came around 10, but it took almost two more hours before the Tournament started.
Fabrice is a really strong fighter and fought excellent in his third match, but for some strange reason all the referees voted for the opponent. Another incredible fight was between a 70kg Japanese and a 130kg Japanese. It was still a draw after three rounds, resulting in that they had to go to the scale to get a decision. A laughing rumble went trough the crowd when they heard the weights of the two competitors being announced. Before the 16 last where to fight, they had to break boards. This has two purposes, one is to determine if the fighter is physical fit to continue fighting, and in the event of draw in the first and the succeding two extra rounds and inadequate weight difference between the opponents, the one who broke highest number of boards wins. Some of the competitors went through 8 boards with the heel, and 7 boards on a single handtechnique (!) There were some incredible strong Russian lightweight fighters participating too, but only Japanese amongst the remaining 8. A spectacular demonstration was performed by the 32nd All Japan Open winner, Hitoshi Kiyama. He started with the Seienchin Kata (Kata: predefined pattern of techniques and movements). Then he started breaking, 3 Ice blocks with back kick (imagine a horse kicking backwards), and numerous of boards with different techniques, and finally 2 baseball bats tied together. He failed to go through the baseball bats at first, giving the audience some indication of the sheer amount of power required to succeed. And I imagine it did not feel to good bashing through the bats the second time with the same foot...
Another impressive display was performed by around 130 kids aged maybe 10-12years, all brown and black belts. They showed a bit of basic techniques, then different combinations while moving. Eight of them then lined up to go Kata, and afterwards two of the girls were defending themselves against dufferent attacks from multiple “aggressors”. Last Tournaments winner and thus probably this years favourite, Kentauro Tanaka did not really impress much, and placed 8th. The winner was a 22 year old, Yoshiaki Uchida (1.85m, 100kg), which had done a good figure throughout the entire competition. Another competitor that impressed BIG time was Osamu Shiojima, a lightweight (1.62m 72kg) that placed 2nd. He worked his way to the finals, taking a lot of beating, managing to evade the round kicks from his taller opponents, and actually managed to generate tremendeous amount of force through his kicks and punches, despite being so small and lightweight. You could hear the crowd respect him more and more for each fight. He was actually also the only one that managed to knock one of his opponents with a round kick to the head during the entire tournament. I guess if he had not taken that much beating on his way he would have won the Tournament, with his extremely good physical condition.
After the Tournament, we went back to Ikebukuro to this Indian restaurant that Fabrice showed me the other day. I have become fond of this place, with its low priced food with incredible delicious nan breads, waiters that are always in a good mood, and as a peculiarity they always play Bollywood movies on a big screen.
The evening was still young, so we decided to go and watch a movie. We ended up in Geir Runes Neighbourhood, which is probably one of the busiest, noisiest and crowded places I have seen, with its shops, gambling and gaming halls, restaurants and bars. And just next his hotel there were 2 Cinemas. Neither of us was motivated to watch a Japanese movie with Japanese text and speech, thus the selection was rather limited so we ended up with “Saw 2”