Yamagata prefecture is not only an unknown entity for me, my wife admitted she knows very little about Yamagata. Yamagata is a rural, mountainous prefecture known for its produce, mainly fruits. Cherries, pears, grapes and apples from this region are specialties. The pears are “La France” western-style pears, not the Asian pears. Yamagata is known for its Hanagasa Festival, which centers around women performing a traditional dance, and actually just happened last week, ended on Tuesday.
The Jungyo event will be held in Nanyo, just outside the eponymous capital city, Yamagata. The city of Tendo is also nearby. This city is where most shogi pieces (koma) are made and features an annual spring human shogi festival.
The Yamanashi — oops, sorry, Yamagata — Jungyo event will be a homecoming for Makushita yusho winner and Juryo promotee, Hakuyozan. He was first promoted to Juryo for the May tournament but finished with a poor 5-10 record. He fell back into Makushita but with impressive, and at times dominant, wins over Jokoryu, Toyohibiki, TYT, and Enho, this homecoming will hopefully give him a chance to enjoy center stage for the day…and perhaps a bout with Endo? Will he manage to get that mawashi undone?
I got a wee bit behind in my jungyo site posts and suddenly we’re already back in Tokyo. Aoyama Gakuin University, informally called AoGaku, is in a fantastic location. If you’ve never been to Tokyo, Aoyama is in the Shibuya area, not far from Omotesando. Aoyama and Omotesando seem to have a more posh reputation than Shibuya, itself, and neighboring Harajuku. The university is found out the opposite side of Shibuya station from most of the famous stuff. Walk along Aoyama-dori about half way to an entrance for Omotesando station.
The university, itself, has ties to the sumo world. Last year, an event was put on here with the help of proud parents of current and former AoGaku students, Isegahama Oyakata, Takanohana Oyakata, and Harumafuji. It is known as a school for the children of celebrities. Private Universities like AoGaku and Keio have grade schools, as well. So many kids who go to the private grade schools go straight into the Universities when they graduate.
Omotesando is a shopping district not far away, but far enough from much of the hustle and bustle of Shibuya. Omotesando Hills is probably having its 10th anniversary about now? It’s a nice mall there that used to feature a wine bar with a wall full of what are essentially wine vending machines. It’s been a long time, though, so it may not be there anymore but I will need to do some research next time I’m back. As with all of these posts, it’s my goal to update and repost them with more information (especially pictures if I get a chance to go).
Day 3 of the Summer Tour, July 31, will take wrestlers to back to the Chubu region of Japan after dipping its toes in Kinki at Lake Biwa. Fukui is not exactly a sumo powerhouse like Hokkaido. It is the shusshin of two active wrestlers, Koshinoryu of Fujishima beya and Maikeru, top-ranked wrestler of Futagoyama beya. Maikeru has been doing well his first year of sumo. After his fifth kachi-koshi, indeed a strong 5-2, he will find himself around sandanme 30, where Ura was ranked this past tournament. Maikeru already sports a massive knee-supporter. Koshinoryu has been as high as Makushita but has not been able to establish himself there for long. Most of his career has been in sandanme. Neither have faced Wakaichiro yet but Koshinoryu may be on the radar for next tournament.
Fukui prefecture, itself, is a coastal prefecture along the Sea of Japan. The prefecture is famous for those long-legged red crabs, the echizen gani. There are hot springs and there’s also a dinosaur museum. Katsuyama, site of the jungyo event, is in the far north, near the capital, Fukui, and the border with Ishikawa. This is also near the scenic Tojinbo cliffs. I will find myself there chowing down on crabs. I’m from Maryland, now, so it’s a requirement to find good crabs.
July 30 and the second site of this year’s summer tour brings us to Shiga prefecture. This is the western loop of this long tour, before we head east again toward Ishikawa, Niigata, and Nagano on back to Tokyo in 10 days. Shiga prefecture is dominated by Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. The southwestern section of the lake is surrounded by Otsu city, where the Jungyo event is being held. There’s quite a bit of historic significance, like the assassination attempt of the future Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, and World Heritage sites. A particular kind of fermented sushi, funazushi, is considered a delicacy in the area. It sounds like something Scandinavian that I’ve read about, gutted and salted when fresh to draw out the moisture, then stored for a year. It’s then taken out and stored again in rice. I’m a glutton, so I like food but my nerd side wins in Otsu – this Open Data site looks more appealing than fermented sushi. http://www.city.otsu.lg.jp/opendata/ I wonder whether a sumo jungyo mash-up with tourist or restaurant locations would be helpful…
For a review, and a look into the disjointed way Andy’s mind works:
My wife also bought a Georgian Red Wine the other day along with the sparkling wine we had the other day. (See Post 1) Tonight, we are having the red. I enjoy it. It’s not too dry. I’m not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignons. Granted, we’re not having it with steak but I asked for pork kimchi. My wife was not pleased with my choice of dinner but I got hooked on buta kimchi when I used to live in Hodogaya.
This particular wine was from the Teliani Valley winery. This was $12.99 and will be a regular in our house. Not too tart, or green, or too dry…my wife says the word is “balanced.” I smell a bit of black pepper. And while I wouldn’t advise eating it with kimchi, the cheddar cheese that my wife picked out was really nice. Both the wine and the cheese were smooth. The wine comes from grapes grown at the Tsinandali estate, pictured. This Mukuzani wine is apparently an international award winning wine. For 13 bucks?
I’ve got to visit Georgia. And that’s not because there was some big fancy neo-conservative pow-wow along the beach. It seems like a beautiful country. It’s perhaps fitting that Tochinoshin is doing so well, the round, Georgian script reminds me of Mongolian. I should probably start learning both languages. If I could read Georgian, then I’d be able to read the rest of the wine bottle.
My fond memories of buta kimchi come from this izakaya below, “Yume.” It’s about half a block from the Hodogaya JR train station, I believe along the infamous Tokaido where I used to watch the awesome customized Japanese long haul semi trucks. I hope Yume still there because my bottle of shochu should still be on the wall. I think it’s bottle #4 and should be about half full. Downstairs is a little bar with maybe 6 seats. It wasn’t until I’d been there a dozen times that I learned there’s an upstairs with tables with hibachi grills.
When I came home from Japan, I learned that the sushi chef at the new Japanese restaurant in my parent’s home town was from…Hodogaya. Then when I moved to DC and started working for FRA, we had an intern from JR. His wife was from Hodogaya and was living there when I was there. I just have a feeling there’s some Murakami portal to a different world there in humdrum Hodogaya. 懐かしい。
*Wow, I put this together quickly before dinner last night and didn’t have time to edit. Geez…what a disjointed mess. I did some editing but left the bit about Yume at the end because I miss that place.