Sunday, October 25, 2015

Taking pictures of people taking pictures of people: Flamingo revisited

A week or two ago, I was making a dash out of the Loop Station post office and then across Federal Plaza to get the subway when I saw them.  Were they art students?  Friends?  A couple in love?  She wanted his picture leaning against Flamingo.  She had a nice longish lens on her camera and I thought, "Oh, ah, she will do this right!  She will zoom in!"  As evidenced below, she did not.  But it's Flamingo so it's worth the shot.

"SEE??  There he is!  That black dot on the orange thingy!"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Taking pictures of people taking pictures, Japan edition

Bla, bla, bla Japan. OMG had a great time yikkety yak.  I wanna go again blibbety blab.

So I snuck in pictures of people taking pictures.  People were very fast on this trip!  I had to move quickly or the moment was lost.  I lost more than one moment.

At the Fifth Station on Mt. Fuji, it's hard to miss people taking pictures of people
"I am cute.  I wink at myself in a selfie."
The selfie stick but way more elaborate
A picture of the casks of sake at Meiji Shrine is de rigueur

Those sake casks?  In the background behind them.  What else?  ME!


Casks a'poppin'

This person actually said, "That's Mt. Fuji?  It's so BIG!"
Mt. Fuji is in the background for them, too.  They could handle the size.

Tres!  And he never told me to take a hike.
Kiyomizudera Temple -- So many people in traditional garb who weren't part of a wedding.

View from Kiyomizudera Temple, over the forest where it stands, toward modern Kyoto

Peace, love, and selfie sticks

They are super cute but it's still a selfie stick
This radiologist from Brussels carried 35 lbs of equipment and is such a good photographer that I was envious.
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sumo has football beat all to hell

Close-up of a sumo, pre-tournament match
American football is considered the national sport of the USA.  It used to be baseball but several years ago, football took over for the sheer spectacle, the force, the length of season, the size of the players, the passion of the fans and owners.  A few years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid and enjoyed football a lot.  I still do like it but no longer have the same fascination.  The radio's as good as the TV for play-by-play and evening-news or internet highlights are another good option should I be participating in life as we know it.

In  Japan, the national sport is sumo wrestling.  Not baseball, which came to Japan when it was invented, long, long ago, but sumo which came to Japan even longer ago.  When I was on vacation, I went to a tournament.  I am someone who can enjoy a competition with specific rules so I totally understand the fascination.

The actual matches don't last more than a few seconds.  The last matches of the day were between the highest levels of sumos.  It was strength, training, ability, intelligence, agility, and concentration against another man who had the same qualities.  Sometimes they'd hit each other so hard they'd go sailing out of the ring, airborne, landing on the front row (where other sumos sit).  That's a lot of flying beef, my friends.

The whole spectacle of the parade of the wrestlers and the traditional motions they go through while they're standing in the ring, in unison, is terrific.  There is a parade of sponsors before each match.  Sometimes there are many sponsors -- Endo, a young Japanese top-tier wrestler, had 21 sponsors -- and sometimes there are one or none.  The winner of the match takes it all.  There is synchronized breathing and concentration.  More concentration.  More breathing.  Salt is tossed in the air by each Sumo to purify the ring.  They clap their hands once to ask the attention of the Gods so they're not alone in the battle.  They drink water to cleanse their bodies; they stamp in the ring to ward off evil spirits.  No, this the exact order and these things can happen more than once. It begins finally when both wrestlers put their fists on the ground and the referee yells, "Hakkeyoi!" The match is over when something other than the soles of the feet touches dirt or someone steps out of the ring.  Of course if your mawashi (the "belt" that covers up the male action) comes undone, if you use an illegal move like kicking or punching, or if you don't show up, then you've lost.

Both wrestlers sailed out of the ring in at least two matches and the five judges gathered in the ring and discussed who won. In one case, the sumos had to go again; in the other, the sumo who hit the ground first was the loser.  The referee wears a knife on his belt; it signifies that he would rather fall on his knife than make a mistake in his duties.

No woman can ever enter the ring.  The present head of all of sumo is a woman and she can never enter the ring, even to present awards.  (She understands and accepts the tradition and is okay with it and you should be, too.  It is their tradition.  Don't get all feminist on their behalf.)

When the two sumos enter their battle, they are shown as East and West on the board and it shows up on the board only as East or West.  You have to pay attention to who is wrestling at a sumo tournament.

Below are a few pictures and they're acceptable to me and shows what it is like.  If there's ever a sumo tournament on American network TV, I will watch it, but since I don't have cable, it's sort of unlikely.

No matter the sport, a tourist will cuddle up.  (Nope, this isn't me.)

"Lady, leave me alone.  Seriously."

The judges convene to determine who touched dirt first.
Panorama of the sumo stadium (from my seat which wasn't so close but wasn't in the rafters either).
After the parade of the sumos, before the match begins, they present themselves to the crowd.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Still dwelling on that Japan trip, y'all - an assortment of pictures

View from my hotel room:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with Mt. Fuji to the left

Meiji Shrine, viewed from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building:  Dense, old growth forest and city surrounding it

Mums for sale:  By the kilo at the fish market
Hanazono Shrine at night
Near Isetan Department Store, the gate to Hanazono Shrine:  At night, which is 7pm in September, it is dark. I live in Chicago; I hoped it was okay. (Perfectly okay.)
Kyoto wedding: Everyone in their Japanese finery but the bride went Western
Meiji Shrine wedding:  Totally Japanese wedding

It took 20 minutes for the photograher, 3rd from left, to set up this shot to his liking.
Tokyo Tower
Before you enter a Shinto shrine, you rinse your left hand, right hand, pour water in your left and rinse your mouth (spit water on the ground).  The dipper never actually touches you.

This gentleman said he is the oldest travel guide in Japan, age 86.  He went to different Kyoto temples every day to talk to tourists in English and liked having his picture taken.
But his favorite thing was embracing every woman with whom he posed.

Hello, friends!  At the Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple with the modern part of Kyoto in the distance
Mt. Fuji and Darth Vader?  WTF, George Lucas???
Mt. Fuji, a scarf around the face and head