Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome Back Soccer Season!

There are only 4 soccer tournaments a year and I always look forward to them. In May, the Gifu Pirates headed to Awaji Island. If you look on a map for Osaka/Kobe, you’ll notice a long island just SW of Kobe, that’s Awaji Island. You take a reallllllly long bridge from the mainland to get to the island (it’s a few miles long) and it’s a little expensive to cross ($25, one way). After some google searching, I found out that the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is the longest, tallest, and most expensive suspension bridge ever built and it’s the length of 4 Brooklyn bridges. It was a quick 3.5 hour drive on Friday night and on Saturday we played 4 short, 30 minute games. I don’t remember what our win-tie-loss record was, but it wasn’t pretty. Along we did have our fair share of fun! On Sunday, we ended up playing 3 more games and ended in 4th place (a far cry from the 1st we took last fall). This tournament is held again in October, and I’m already looking forward to it!

The Gifu Pirates and some Fukui (Prefecture) girls

Yours truly in action

On to the second soccer tournament: hello Nagano! This tournament was held over the June 4-5 weekend. Once again, I met up with my fellow ALTs and we headed to Nagano (4.5 hours) early Saturday morning. We only had 3 games on Saturday and then 2 on Sunday. We ended up playing for the championship on Sunday against our friendly foes Yamanashi. I guess it just wasn’t for us, as we came in a respectable second. When October rolls around, I’ll be ready to play them again!

The Gifu Pirates. Yours truly looks like a lobster...my face was very burnt after day 1.

The team after day 1

The team after day 2

Trophy! the backdrop is conveyor belt sushi...

Let’s see, what else have I been up to? I’ve been bad at keeping up on my blog, but I won’t get behind again (promise!).

Elections were just held in my town for the mayor and something else (I forgot). What have I learned from Japanese politics? They are much more annoying than those in America! In America, it's typical to hear advertisements (for lack of better word) on TV, radio, billboards, and now, social media. So if you see a campaign advertisement that you don't like on TV or radio, you just switch the channel. In Japan, this is SO not the case. It seemed like every candidate had their own car with a speakerphone on the top. At first, I thought it was cool to hear the campaigns, until I realized I couldn't turn them off when I wanted. They chanted their names several times, along with some thank-yous, and there were some campaign promises weaved in there too.

This is how advertising works. Everyone gets one spot and these boards are set up all over the town.

The campaigning cars (that's my blue car!)

What else? I went on an adventure to pick up the ceramics I made back in May and they turned out very well! I was surprised to say the least! After picking up my creations, we went to a famous gohei mochi store about 1 hour from my town. This place is apparently pretty famous, and the menu consists of gohei mochi and that's it. Needless to say, it was amazing. I will truly miss gohei mochi when I leave Japan. For those of you who don't know what gohei mochi, just think of pounded cooked rice and shape them into balls and then put them on a skewer and add a little glaze/sauce and you are ready to go. The best thing about gohei mochi is that the flavor is always different. After our snack, we went into the mountains to the site of an old castle. I can't remember its name, but it had a nice view. The first picture in this post is from the castle ruins.

Two weekends ago I was making my way home and while I was transferring train stations in Gifu City, I stumbled across this "no-nukes" rally.

Lastly, Columbia Sportswear in Japan! Yay! I bought a lovely pink tee that says Portland on it. They even had shirts with Mt. Hood!