Japan blog 2: Mon-Thurs (shrine, owls, BJJ legends, the weight of a weapon)

So Monday night I met my former training partner friend-turned-pro wrestler Sakura. She had a “surprise” for me, so she had me go to Ikebukuro (and I got lost trying to find the proper station exit. x_x There are dozens!) Then she led me to a building with my eyes closed. Haha Apparently whatever it was was written on signs and all over the walls, so I had to go up like three flights of stairs with my eyes closed. I cheated and opened them a crack to see the floor, but dutifully didn’t look up.

“Okay open!” she said. We were at an owl cafe! Or “Owl Park!”

I had told her I wanted to go to a Neko (cat) cafe last year when I visited because it was such a novel concept to me. We did and it was fun. I had since read lots of negative things about other animal cafes, such as owls, because they’re nocturnal and humans are bothering them all day when they’re supposed to be sleeping. :/ So I had mixed feelings about that at first. The staff members were very kind, though, and were educated about how to handle them, how to touch them, etc. I’ve never touched an owl before!! It was great!

…..it was cool. I enjoyed the experience a lot! Thanks, Sakura-chan!

Tuesday morning, I think I just went shopping by myself. I met my former host mother, and co-star of my autobiography Sadako-san for sushi lunch! I offered to go closer to her, but she said she liked to get out and came to Hirama, near Kawasaki. She’s basically my Japanese grandmother. I love her! She’s so sweet and awesome! She gave me bowls and chopsticks for presents!!

Everybody asks me the difference between sushi in America and Japan. See this roll? This is about as complicated as it gets in Japan.

Something in the middle and a dab of something on the top. Not like the “sexy girlfriend rolls” or “dragon rolls” or whatever Americans made up slathered with everything, WHICH ARE FREAKING DELICIOUS. haha! Good job, America! You improved sushi rolls. 😀 BUT, single pieces of fish on rice are the BEST tasting in Japan.

I got back to Kawasaki and met one of my best friends Goto-san, and we went to Kawasaki Daishi temple together, which has become a tradition! My favorite sembei rice cracker shop WAS there but the owners weren’t. ;_; It wasn’t as fun without taking to the owners! I missed my yearly chat.

Here are the real life statues that are what the replicas he gave me are modeled after! < -- You know when you are listening to music and trying to write something and some weird grammar comes out? Goto-san gave me figurines that are modeled after these statues. lol

Then we met Goto-san’s wife and went to Tsuru-chan’s restaurant, Fukuzushi! I’m SO happy I got to go again and taste his awesome cooking, and also introduce my three friends to each other. 😀

You don’t want to know what this is.

okay I’ll tell you. ;D Beef intestines! I hate them normally, but for some reason, anything Tsuru-chan cooks, I like. u_U I ate it. omg.

Wedneday morning I decided last minute to try and find a place to train, and went to Hearts! Unfortunately, my former training partner Kenji Osawa was not there. :/ But I enjoyed rolling with everyone!

Thanks for letting me go to your gym, Osawa-san!

After that, I met my former co-worker friend Grace and we went to this “Samurai Museum” that I had never heard about, despite living in Japan for eight years. IT WAS SO COOL!! I consider myself very knowledgeable about Japanese culture but I didn’t know a lot! For example, the number of lines on a helmet means how sturdy they are. The amount of color and decoration on armor signifies rank. Family crests are always displayed on them.

I got to try on a helmet and dress up. She said that she wanted to be the male, and I was like, “Alright then. Give me that kimono. And umbrella! And plastic hair! LOL” I went all out.


We also watched a man of samurai linage demonstrate some kenjitsu stances and strikes. IT WAS SO COOL. He was cool. I think I got an instant crush on him. He called for volunteers to try it, and Grace was saying, “Do it, Roxy, do it!” I wanted to, but I didn’t want to be greedy and take all the opportunities every time, since I also tried on the helmet. I waited like five seconds and only one other guy stood up, so I stood up! IT WAS SO COOL.

I tried so hard to imitate his stance correctly. Someone asked how long he’d been training and he said since he was a child. “But!” he added adamantly, “the most important thing is reading philosophy!”

When they gave me the sword, I knew it probably wasn’t really sharp, or they wouldn’t hand it to a stranger. I was very conscious, though, that this was a weapon used to take people’s lives and I took it very seriously. I really respect all warriors who never fight because they like killing, but because they have someone to protect, or something to serve. When I held the sword in my hands, I was so aware of the weight of this. This was a sword. It was not a toy. It made a bloody mess of other human beings who are somebody’s sons and husbands. Philosophy indeed.

The weight of a weapon is heavy indeed.

In the evening, I met my former English student friend Meiko for dinner! It was great to see her again!! I gotta keep in touch better from the US! X_X I love you, Meiko!


On Thursday morning, I trekked to Paraestra Tokyo! And I mean TREKKED. Battled. Through Kawasaki/shinagawa rush hour traffic of being squished on trains, and train delays because of a little rain.

It was a huge hassle, but Goto-san had been telling me for YEARS about that place, and how amazing Yuki Nakai was. Dude, Yuki Nakai is a legend.

Click here to glance at his wikipedia entry. Yuki Nakai (中井祐樹 Nakai Yūki) is a retired Japanese mixed martial artist and Shooter. He currently teaches shoot wrestling and jiu-jitsu, and is the president of the Japanese Confederation of Jiu-Jitsu. He competed in Shooto, a proto-MMA promotion; as well as Vale Tudo Japan 1995, where he was outweighed by every opponent in the tournament. Despite this, and despite suffering a severe eye injury in the first bout, Nakai managed to make it to the finals where he lost to Rickson Gracie. Nakai is a legend of Shooto by many fighters and fans.

It was an amazing class!! We drilled stuff for like an hour and a half, during which I asked him a bunch of questions and he answered them. He had the aura of knowing everything about all things!

I was like…



omg so many high level people there. I rolled for like 45 minutes with people, including three two brown belts and two purple belts. Then this black belt guy (on the right) tried to give me advice but my brain was overflowing with techniques I was trying to remember and had already shut off…. and I had to use the bathroom so that I ended up excusing myself, which made me want to cry… but he said his name was Kimura and he had 4 ragged stripes on his black belt. My eyes nearly popped out of my skull. omg omg

I flew home on Friday! I felt really happy and satisfied with my visit except I didn’t get to see all my friends. 🙁 I wish I had more time! I wish I could go twice a year! But months leading up to my visit, I was dreaming about Japan. Then, I had a nap dream on the airplane that I was trying to get back to Vegas. Yeah, my subconscious is pleased.…

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