Monday, September 27, 2010

World Travel Fair and Other Updates

I've been noticeably remiss on attending sporting events lately. That's not to say that there's nothing going on here in Tokyo, but it isn't very compelling. The sumo world just ended its September tournament and Yokozuna Hakuho continued to dominate, winning all 15 of his bouts and extending his unbeaten streak to 62, second in history. I used to be a big fan of sumo; when I arrived it was at a peak with lots of interesting wrestlers and excellent competition. But lately there have been few exciting tournaments and a preponderance of foreign wrestlers has rendered the sport completely boring. As well, scandals related to drugs and gambling (on baseball no less!) have hurt their image and kept the fans away in droves. I too have stopped going, although am thinking about attending Chiyotaikai's retirement ceremony on Saturday just to report on it here.

In Japanese baseball, the regular season is grinding to a close. There is a fight for third in the Pacific League between the Chiba Lotte Marines and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, while the Central League's top 3 teams had pretty much clinched spots back in May. The minor circuit saw Lotte win the Eastern crown, while the Western went to Hanshin. They play in a 1-game championship next Saturday in Niigata. I had hoped to see the final Shonan Searex game but bad weather and other commitments made that impossible.

In other sports, both men's and women's tennis are in Tokyo over the next two weeks. I'm going to try to get out to Ariake for at least one day for each tournament. The F League (Futsal) has an all-day event at Yoyogi on October 16th, which I am hoping to catch, if only to add another sport to the list. And the Asia Ice Hockey League just started their season, with games in Tokyo this coming weekend.

The F1 race comes to Suzuka on October 10th, while basketball's bj League gets started on the 16th. But the Tokyo Apache haven't announced where they are playing their first games, as the futsal has pushed them out of Yoyogi for the opening weekend. Looks like another year of no respect for them.

As you can see, there's lots to see in Tokyo. But too much of it is on weekends now, when I don't have as much time. So there will be extended periods of quiet over the next couple of months, until I head home in December for a nice hockey trip.

World Travel Fair

Although I haven't seen any sports lately, I did have the chance to attend the World Travel Fair at Tokyo's Big Sight complex (above). It was a large trade exhibition that showcased countries of the world, airlines, rental car companies, and other travel-related firms. Below is a picture of JAL's oneworld partners. Note that Mexicana also filed for bankruptcy recently. One poorly managed world perhaps.

There was a 1,200 yen charge to get in, and mostly it was just a chance to pick up brochures and pamphlets exhorting you to visit wherever, but some booths had a little extra to entice you. There was free wine tasting in a few spots, Belgian beer, some shows and contests, and a few ethnic restaurants on hand if you got hungry.

Unfortunately, road trips were not mentioned. It seems most places want you to experience nature and that sort of thing, rather than watch the local sport, whatever it may be. Still, it was interesting to see how each nation tried to market itself. For example, Swiss chocolatier Lindt had a frightening robot, (above) while Taiwan used dancers to illustrate the beauty of their nation (below). It was a well worth a few hours of time.

Boxing is Expensive

As I was leaving, I happened upon the WBA flyweight championship between a couple of Japanese boxers. I don't follow boxing at all, but was still intrigued. Until I saw the ticket prices. The best seats were 50,000 yen (about $600) while the cheapest were 5,000 yen. That's too much for me for a sport I know little about. I watched the bout at home though, and was glad I skipped it as it was rather one-sided and bloody. Not sure that I'll be adding boxing to my list of must-see events in the near future.

Next Up

As mentioned above, there's lots of things this coming weekend, so I'm going to choose one of them. Just not sure which one yet. Either the sumo retirement ceremony, the ballgame in Niigata, the tennis, or the ice hockey. Check back next week for an update.



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