Friday, March 30, 2007

See you later Therese and Martin

Sadly our friends Therese and Martin left Hiroshima today to go back to England. Orlando and I went to dinner with them yesterday in the same restaurant we first met a little over a year ago!!! We could not believe how quick time has passed and all the adventures we had together. They where here only 18 months!!!! Still they became one our most valued and cherished friends. The kind you can count on to help you out in any circumstance, which in a strange far away land consists of many little things like: "Where is the best place to buy normal food?", "Which restaurants have English menus" or the crucial "Is there Bacardi around here?". Therese would promptly be at my door on her spiky bike to take me to all the right places in the city. On 3/24/07 I had everyone over at our apartment for a "See you later party". For those of you who are wondering (everyone), yes I did cook. I made lasagna for 12 people!!!! Including our special guest my friend Erin's mom who hanged out with "the kids" all night.

We gave a Therese a few going away gifts as you can see below:

What you are seeing above is not an optical illusion. That Big Bird actually has 4 legs, thanks to some creative craftsmanship from Erin. You may think what is going on? So the story of the 4 legged chicken begins. usually when we have a party at someone's apartment (no 2 story houses here unless you live about 1 hour away) we would play some time of quirky game after everyone was "happy". One of my favorite games to play is Cranium. One one of the challenges of the game is to draw something with your eyes closed and the rest of your team has to guess what it is. One time after many many glasses of wine, Therese's team was counting on her to draw a beautiful illustration of a chicken. Simple enough right? Well no one guessed what it was and Therese was very disappointed. Once she let everyone see her drawing paper the chicken had 4 legs instead of 2!!!!! Off course no one guessed it right!!! In reality Therese's futuristic rendition of a chicken was not that far of. Read the following article to see that it is possible to have a four legged bird:
Therese laughed so hard when she saw the "transformed" stuffed animal that she ended up crying!!!!!
Here is the whole "gaijin (Japanese slang word for foreigner) kids gang". Off course we are all on the floor, this is Japan after all!!! Who would have thought that a fluffy rug would be so useful?
I mean this in the most sincere way that they will be missed alot in our microscopic foreigner community in Hiroshima and that they can visit us any time, wherever we might be. If you would like to know more about them just click on the links section to check out their blog, it has really good travel information on Japan and interesting anecdotes on what it is like to live here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


We stayed in Osaka the day after the Sumo tournament and went sightseeing the whole day. I was very surprised to realize that Osaka is the second largest city in Japan, second only to Tokyo. The city has a population of about 2.7 million which is double the size of Hiroshima (about 1.2 million people live here). Hiroshima itself seams huge to me since my home town of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico only has around 100, 000 inhabitants. Osaka had so many transportation options, subways, bullet trains, taxis, even the train station seemed like a little city itself!!! Thankfully Orlando figured out where to go, because I had no idea!!! I could have ended up in Tokyo for all I know!!
Our first Stop was the Umeda Sky building. It consists of two 40-story towers that connect at the top, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide space in the center. Here we are in front of the building:
If you think I went up there then you have not been reading this blog!!!! Orlando went up and took some cool pictures of Osaka:

I stayed nice and safe on the ground and took some artsy pictures of the building:
The first day of Spring was officially March 21st!!! It is a National Holiday in Japan, but off course we had to go to work!!! I prefer working that day than having to come to work on Saturday...again?!?!?!?!
Afterwards we went to the Osaka Castle which was originally built in 1598. Don't we look cute?

Here we are in the castle's entrance:

I actually went to the top of the castle and here are the pictures to prove it.

How can there be a castle without a garden? NEVER!!!!

The castle had a really interesting exhibition of old Japanese military armor. I wonder who could maintain their balance and run around in this spiffy outfit:
After navigating trough the complete subway system we made it to the Kaiyukan aquarium,one of the world's largest. Go to:
for more information on the aquarium. As you can see our friends Nuria and David where with us the whole weekend. I think the picture below explains how they where able to survive being with us 48 hours straight. Good Humor!!!!
In general the aquarium was pretty normal except for the various exhibit's quirky picture illustrations. Like everything here there has to be some type of cute cartoon to explain everything. This picture is the one for the sea otter exhibit. How does a leave on top of a chubby guy's head mean sea otter? It will remain on of life's great mysteries.
The next picture was used for the penguin exhibit:
This picture represents the largest tank in this aquarium which is 30 feet deep, and has 5,400 tons of water. Apparently if there is a big shark behind you all you have to do is ride the sting ray in order to get away.
Here is some video from the huge water tank:

You can see a whale shark in this video, which is 14 feet in length and weights about 1,800 pounds.

Monday, March 19, 2007


On 3/17/07 we went to go watch Sumo wrestling in Osaka (about 1.5 hours by bullet train from Hiroshima) with a few friends. Here I am in front of the Sumo Stadium, as you can see it was easy to identify where it was thanks to all the colorful flags outside.
Here we are in from of the Stadium, for the record we have no idea what the guy in the right hand side of the picture was doing. I think he was just there guarding the decorations...seriously.
We had a the chance to see some of the Sumo wrestlers coming in to the Stadium. Notice how huge this guy is in comparison to the people around him. Needless to say they really stand out in a crowd!!!
I tried to stop some of the wrestlers in order to take a picture but they completely ignored me, so I took a picture with my new cardboard friend. Are we a happy couple of what?
Since we got there early we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the fighters.
Here is a good view of the ring:

I bought the box seats for this event thinking they where like the ones in Detroit's Tiger Stadium, boy was I wrong. These where our box seats. What ever happened to regular seats?
After 6 hours of sitting in our "extremely huge" space we where feeling the togetherness (since everyone's feet where numb that's about all we could feel) in our cushions as you can see below:
A total of 8 foreigners went with us to the Sumo event. We began to make bets (10 cents each fight nothing mayor) as to who would win. Orlando just picked the guys with the funniest names and then my friend would match them to the picture in the event book. If we still had no idea who was fighting we would ask our neighbors, "Who is that". We where actually very loud and would cheer hysterically for our picks. I thought "we must be quite annoying" but to the contrary, our box neighbor bought all of us ice cream and some guy sitting behind us gave a few people free beer!!! What a great country, free stuff!!!!
Here are the Sumo wrestlers in the Ring Entering Ceremony. What could be better than big men with colorful skirts?
If you want to get into Sumo then just follow these easy steps:
1. Assume the position.
2. Engage your opponent.
3. Knock your opponent down swiftly.
Now let's see that in real time:

Here they go again:
To learn more about sumo wrestling go to the information section of this site:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

He's baaaack!!!!!!

Orlando's back from visiting his parents in San Francisco. He went to checkout their new house (see picture above) and bring me back some good old fashioned American goodies!!!!! Orlando brought back a grand total of 5 pictures from his trip!!!! So here they are hanging in Pebble beach golf course:

In general I am very glad that Orlando is back because it was way too quite in the apartment without him. I also wanted to take this chance and say THANKS to all the people in Hiroshima who called me, invited me over for dinner and generally took care of me these last 10 days. It's good to know you have friends you can count on.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Taco Party

On Saturday I had a few people over for dinner. Here I am hard at work cooking. Please take a mental note of the picture above because it is very rare to actually see me in the kitchen and in addition, actually cooking something. You might want to mark your calendars for this special occasion. I invited some new friends from work and a English teacher (10 points if you can guess which one he is) who where looking for good tacos (the ones you can get here are very expensive and the taste is questionable) last week so I volunteered to make some.
Everything turned out fine and they actually liked my cooking. It's a miracle call the Vatican to investigate!!!! I cooked 5.5 pounds of beef and we eat around 34 tacos along with some spanish rice!!!!

In the end we ended up talking about an array of interesting subjects (note" alcohol is always good for that). We discussed everything all the way from why Hello Kitty has no mouth (the artist did this on purpose in order for the person to reflect his/her feeling on the doll) to infidelity in society (I proclaimed my extreme feminists views on how this is extremely wrong, off course). I also taught them some must English works like: Hot (as in "that dude is hot"), player (as in a guy/girl having many girlfriends/boyfriends), gay (no explanation necessary) and too much information (as in too much detail). In general I think every one had a good time and I am happy to have succeed in my first Japanese friends party.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Maiko Encounter

This Saturday I got a chance to see some real Maiko's (Geisha's in training) at a department store's (similar to Macy's) Kyoto fair. I was reading that after a period as short as six months or as long as five years, the Maiko can be promoted to a geisha. I took a few pictures of them with my cel phone, and so did everyone else!!! you could hear the cel phone cameras working overtime!!!!

Check out the details on the back of her Kimono.

2 Maikos are better than 1. The one in the blue is only 15 years old and the one in the black is 19 years old.

Strike a POSE!!!! Maiko style!!! Don't they look like dolls? I think that is the whole point!!

After the performance I had a chance to take a picture with the Maikos.
I took a video of them dancing with my cell phone, check it out (use the small screen) at:
Their dancing seems simple but t really is not. You noticed quickly that they can bearly walk in those super tight Kimonos it is a miracle they can even move so much!!! I had great time watching them since I know that you have to pay good money (around $200 or more) to see a real Geisha but hey I'll settle for a free viewing any day.