First, let me preface this by saying that I’m not complaining, but yesterday was trying, y’all. The day started at 5:00 am and didn’t end until 11pm, and for probably 15 of those hours, I was out in the elements. The Japanese winter: unforgiving. The jet lag: turnt up on 10. I don’t know if it’s yesterday or tomorrow anymore. I must liken the pain I experienced from the cold to the great Obama Inauguration of 2009… or the Time Square Ball Dropping of 2006. Like those events, I had been exposed to the cold for hours on end with no relief. It was so cold, I could feel it in my bones and even hours of attempts to warm up were futile. I thought my feet would have to be amputated, but I survived and it was a good, productive day. Although, there were several times that I longed for that steamy club with shots of #ScotchyScotchyScoty or Patron and good music. Now THATS a way to spend a morning! But not an entire trip abroad, so today, we needed to get some culture.
Melissa had the excellent idea to steal a peek at the Sumo wrestlers that practice every morning. It was 30 minute train ride so we had to set the alarm in order to meet up at 6am. We arrived and caught a pretty awesome show–
I’d like to interject here and tell you that I had the pleasure of meeting (by way of his English speaking father) an ex-Sumo wrestler who happens to be Black and a member of #TeamNatural. Shut the front door!
His father, Marvin Sr. was born in Louisiana but raised in Detroit. He came to Japan during his military days and fell in love with the country and culture. He also fell in love with a gorgeous woman and decided to stay, but disclosed that this wasn’t his only reason for hanging around. He states, “since I work in the business and media worlds, I get a chance to interact with lots of people and to change false perceptions about Black people that some Japanese folks might have (we’re not scary, we don’t all play sports at a high level, we’re not all musicians, we’re not dumb, etc, etc…) I think that’s why I’m here.”
His son, Marvin Jr, is 25 and is quickly on his way to fame and fotune. He used to be a professional Sumo wrestler but retired due to a birth defect. One of his heart valves did not close properly and he had to have open heart surgery a couple years ago to fix the valve. Because of this, he was asked to discontinue the sport. He took it in stride and decided to do something he had always thought about- stand up comedy! Marvin Sr. shares, ‘Although there are a couple of Black comedians on TV in Japan, they fall into the old stereotype of the acting dumb, bug eyed, etc… which works for them, but most American’s of color think it’s ridiculous. So my son is doing his thing, representing both his Japanese and his American side, but not going the bug eyed idiot route (hope that makes sense, not hating on the people who do that, if they are happy about it).”
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When he was wrestling, he used straighteners to keep it super straight to style it like the other Sumo wrestlers. Now he usually rocks a MASSIVE fro. When asked about how his hair is received in Japanese society, his father shared, “well, I think the big fro surprises a lot of folks at first and he actually puts his hair in a ponytail when he’s not performing. The thing is, he uses the hair as a prop and tells jokes about different situations, like when he goes to the movies, people ask him to scoot down in the seat, so they can see! No bad stuff that I know, as Japanese people tend to not confront you and prefer talking about you behind your back out of site and range of you. The other thing is that a lot of Japanese young men, wear fro, especially B-Boys and B-Girls.
Next up, Otsukare to do some sight seeing!
gloves- Gifted from Romwe
Those gloves, while sexy as hell, serve absolutely no purpose… so at some point, mid afternoon, I stopped by a convenient store and copped these joints… I opted for the ‘Hello Kitty’s’… when in Rome 😉
the 7 Gods
blow fish are highly poisonous but if prepared correctly, make a helluva meal!
After being in the elements for nearly 7 hours, restaurants on this side of town FINALLY opened up and we ducked into a warm spot that just so happened to specialize in Unagi (eel). YUM.
Finally, we made it to the base…about 11 hours into our day, I was sleepy, but amped. Stay tuned tomorrow for pics of the Curly Troops where I met nearly 50 transitioning or natural active duty personnel!