Ayu fish festival, Sakura, Mana, memories and thanks

Yesterday, I got a day off of paid vacation. In the morning, I packed a box of books and my belts (these).

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I wrapped them in my collectable towels, so I’m killing two birds with one stone. They are HEAVY. ^^; I’m gonna worry about them. If that box gets lost, I’m gonnna start stalking the shipping company employees, lol

Then I brought a bunch of books to the used book shop (Bookoff), and then met Mana for lunch in Kawasaki!
We went to the Wired Café- I’ve always wanted to go there for a meal! 😀 I got this Japanese-style “Taco Rice,” which had taco-beef, avocado, cheddar cheese, tomato, a few tortilla chips over white rice. SO YUMMY. XD
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I really enjoyed talking with Mana. I met her in college, 10 years ago, on my study-abroad year in Japan. My Japanese university ICU had a welcome program where one of their students who studied English volunteered to meet the foreign kid at the airport, and take them to their host family. So Mana was the VERY FIRST Japanese person I ever met in Japan! 😀 And we are still friends! ^^ Now she has her own successful business and job (two of them!) I’m so proud of her.

I write about her in my book, which should come out in a few months!

Then I hopped the train to Atsugi (it took a full hour). Here is the mascot of Atsugi:


a pig (there’s a super famous pig intestines shop there that people travel to from miles around. And Ayu are famous so there’s one on it’s head. lol Weird, right? I wanted a picture with Mr. Fishy-head-Piggy, but I would have to line up behind the 3 year olds in a long line…..no thank you.

I used to live in Atsugi, thus knew about this yearly festival. I met Sakura at 3 PM!

Sakura is also a very special friend. I met her 6 or 7 years ago, when she came into my former dojo, Wajitsu Keishukai Tokyo Honbu. I remember I was there for her first class. I taught her how to shrimp! And actually, I didn’t like her at first, because she kind of didn’t take what I said seriously. I was like, “Do this and this.” And she was like “Um, I dunno if that’s correct. Excuse me!” and she asked Moriyama-san, our lead teacher. I was like “Grrr.” -_-; But I forced myself to work with her and be nice, and we started getting along more and more. Then I noticed that none of the other girls in the gym really wanted to work with her, so I started working with her every time. When she started listening to me, things went smoother, hahaha, and we became great friends. We met outside the gym for meals and stuff, and hung out together.

So basically…the way I understood fight prep in Japan is “motodachi-“ that means when everyone is doing group sparring, you stay in the middle and spar a lot with no breaks. No coach ever EVER took me aside and just coached me. I didn’t get coaching unless I asked the teacher for advice. That’s just the way it worked, and I thought it was normal. People used to ask me, “How’s fight camp going?” I replied, “I don’t know what ‘fight camp’ means, but training is going okay.”

Of course I wanted to try certain techniques, so I stared arranging to meet Sakura an hour before regular class. Sakura helped me with fight prep for like two or more years. Just her and I in that dark, wonderful basement that was the home to our fighter’s hearts. Only hard-core fighters would love that place and wanna go there, we used to say. Haha

I often had to teach her technique first, so I could do it on her and she resist. So I was raising my own training partner. She wrote a very touching blog entry about me just now, saying that I was the reason she was able to fight professionally, and she didn’t give up. 🙂

Thank you for that, Sakura. Thank you for helping me prepare for my fights, and being there to support me. She has also been a good friend and we had many girl talks. <3 The Ayu Festival is named after a popular river fish called “Sweetfish” that are found in abundance in the Sagami River. 00ayu fish omg
“Oh my god!!”

In the olden days, Samurai used to spear them for target practice (says Wikipedia). They’re popular to roast with salt over an open fire pit.
Like this:
00ayu pit
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I go to this festival literally every year. I haven’t missed one. Once I was sick, and I still ate a fish on my way home from work. Lol

For the past three years, I’ve gone with Sakura.

We went to village vanguard and I found this T-shirt that I JUST HAD TO GET. And somebody in the restaurant we went to laughed at it and started talking to me, hahaha. Worth the $20 already.
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And there are fireworks at the end, from 7 PM to 9! Japanese fireworks are so cool. Unlike American ones which go “BAMBAMBAMBAM WHOAAAAAA” huge explosions finished in like 20 minutes, Japanese ones are creative, smaller, but they can make designs and shapes in the sky. There’s time in between each set, for people to relax and enjoy and make an evening out of the performance.

I think fireworks are like fighter’s lives – bright and glorious, but short-lived. But the especially spectacular ones live forever in our memories.

00fireworks 2013
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Over the course of the afternoon and evening, she cried once in a while. I said, “Don’t cry! We’ll always be connected on Facebook and everything.” But when my train pulled up and I gave her a hug, I started sobbing like waterfallsssssssssssssss. ;________;

Oh yeah, and when we first arrived, we stopped by Crave Hair Style, and said goodbye to Takahiro-san, the stylist who does my hair every time I fight in Japan.

00takahiro roxy

He can braid “63” into my hair.
1roxy vs molly3

I love him. 😀 He told me to tell him next time I’m fighting in Japan, and he’ll go to the arena to watch!…