Monday, 10 March 2014

Sanomaru, Tochigi FC and a love of Convenience Stores

When I started this blog I was keen to not write stuff just for the sake of it, but to actually have something to say. Alas, the last couple of weeks have lacked somewhat in excitement so you’re going to have to make do with a slightly jumbled selection of random observations and happenings from recent days.

Perhaps the biggest piece of news is that on March 1st the Sano Christmas lights finally came down. Although this was a massive disappointment, combined with the fact that the snow has all melted, I’m thinking that warmer weather will soon be on the way. The pink flowers will appear on a few trees and everyone will celebrate by getting hammered in the park – so that’s something to look forward to.
I think someone built a snow cave for their pet...
The Japan Guide website gives helpful advice on how to enjoy a “Hanami” Party, which is this: “Cherry blossom viewing is easy: Simply enjoy the intensity of the many blossoms by looking at a single tree or a group of trees.” Thanks for that folks, I’d never have thought that to see something I had to look at it.

This reminds me of some directions I took from another website recently. I’m not kidding, I was trying to find a physio in Tokyo (I was unsuccessful and after searching for an hour gave up and went to the pub) and this was the advice given if planning to come by cab: “If the driver tilts his head and sucks air for any longer than one second, it’s probably easier to find another taxi.”

Hanging out with Sanomaru. I honestly love this thing
Anyway, I digress. Last week Sanomaru came to our office. That may mean nothing to you folks, but this weird little dog-like creature is something of a celebrity in these parts. Sano TV were doing a feature on events in Sano this year and wanted to include Cricket, so the town Mascot, and winner of the 2013 Yuru Kyara (Japan’s Next Top Mascot…or something) came to see us. What followed was perhaps the most bizarre exhibition of cricket I have ever seen. Take a look:

Genuinely, that has been the highlight of the last two weeks. Well, that and discovering this utterly weird song by a load of foreigners about how much they love convenience stores. It’s made extra strange by the fact that the bloke at the start reminds me a lot of occasional Drover - Neil Brearley. I’m pretty worried that I might be like this after a few more months here. The news piece on it is here: but I felt that this deserved to be included here too: 

This weekend I also took in my first J-League game, which involved a two-hour journey to watch my “local” team, Tochigi FC who play in the second division, grab a 1-1 home draw against Yokohama. The match wasn’t entirely devoid of quality, but it was pretty short on excitement. The best bit perhaps being that all the chants are still sung in English, even if they may have been translated a little strangely (the Tochigi slogan is “Keep on Fighting” – which could be seen as a little edgy if this wasn’t Japan).

Keep on Fighting Tochigi
To complete the utterly scatter-gun approach to this blog, I recently read about a Japanese prank that I hope to never fall victim of, if you're curious then just click here, while it also seems that the main reason Japan is making the news in Europe right now is because of a shoplifting cat

On a final, more sombre note, tomorrow is the third anniversary of the Earthquake and Tsunami. I've not heard about any plans to mark the occasion but I'm sure there will be plenty of people throughout the country who will be mourning. Being so new to Japan it's hard to know what to say about it, other than my thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. 

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