Maigo in Japan: Sumo, Snowboarding and Monkeys

I’m back in Japan! My last trip wasn’t too long ago, but I’m definitely glad to be able to come all the way here again so soon. I’m mainly here for my friend’s wedding, but I’m also using this opportunity to visit friends and do some more sight seeing.

After my last trip, there are a few things I’ve learned. First of all, it’s extremely hard to get free wifi in Japan. So one of the first things I did upon arrival was hire a Pocket-Wifi at the airport. It was so easy and quick to do, and it’s allowed me to stay connected with my friends here, as well as family and friends back home. The great thing is I can still use my phone to call using other LINE or Skype, or any of these other type of services.

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The other thing I’ve done differently this time, since I’ll be mostly in Tokyo, is purchase a Pasmo Card. This works similarity to an oyster card in London. You pay a 500 yen deposit for the card, which you can get back if you return it, and then can top it up with any amount you wish. The Pasmo card can be used on the subway, JR Lines, buses and even to pay for things. It also works in other major cities around Japan. It’s been really useful, as it means I don’t have to spend my time staring at a map trying to find the station I’m trying to get to to pay the correct fare. This has definitely been a lot easier and hassle free.

So far my first couple days in Japan have been quite exciting. I went to watch my very first sumo match, and was lucky enough to see history being made right before my eyes! It just so happens the match I went to watch that day was to become Hakuho’s  33rd championship win, breaking Taiho’s previous record. Not only was he the big winner, but he also won all his bouts in this tournament, scoring an impressive 15-0. This is great for any wrestler, but especially a yokozuna, who needs to maintain a winning streak in order to keep their title and top rank. If you want to know more about sumo, you can read all about it in my article here.

Sumo
View more pictures here

After the sumo match we went to eat chanko nabe, which is famous for being what sumo wrestlers eat. The food was really nice, but I had already spent quite a lot of the day eating, so didn’t eat as much as I normally would this time. Straight after dinner we were on our way to Shinjuku to take a night bus to Nagano.

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The bus left at 11pm and we arrived around 7:30am the next morning. We were extremely tired as we all had not slept to well, and decided to spend the morning resting a while in our rooms. We had a lovely tatami room, which was great! After a couple hours of catching up on some Zs we went to the onsen, which was also a part of the hotel. I had not been to an onsen since my last trip of course, but I wasn’t as shy as I had been the first time. And honestly, onsens are so relaxing and feel great for your skin, it’d be a really shame not to go. Actually I ended up going three times in the short amount of time we were there ^ ^ After rejuvenating ourselves, it was time to hit the slopes! I went snowboarding for the very first time, and I think I didn’t do too bad, except for a few tumbles and the two people I took out (I didn’t see either of them in the hotel later, but I’m sure they’re fine…maybe f^_^; ). The views from the mountain top were absolutely spectacular, and I just could’t help but take picture after picture.

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The next day we went to visit Jigokudani monkey park. I had always wanted to go see the snow monkeys, and even though the climb to the park was a slippery icy road to the top, it was completely worth it.

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Jigokudani monkey
View more pictures here

I’m back in Tokyo tonight, and still have lots more planned, so stay tuned for my next episode of Maigo in Japan!

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