Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Haircut Worries Are Over

Today I had my first haircut from someone other than my regular barber in 15 years. I have to admit I was worried. Those of you who read my earlier blog regarding some of the issues I had with going to Japan to live for three months may remember my concern.

Today’s haircut came about in and unusual and fortunate way. My friend, who works at La Rochelle Restaurant, his girlfriend and I went out for dinner on Sunday evening. It was a small Italian Restaurant within walking distance and the night was cool. The restaurant wasn’t crowded and we were able to get a table upon arrival. There is a custom in Japan that you first order a think-about beer so that you have something to drink while you think about what you are going to eat and drink so we ordered beer.

We decided on a green salad because I was craving green leafy vegetables, two small pizzas, some grilled vegetables, pickles and a bowl of spaghetti. We shared all the dishes. The food was tasty and the pizza of the day was salami and potato with tomato sauce. Nice light crust and tasty topping but this was my first time to have fried potatoes on a pizza and I’m not sure I’ll be copying that pizza when I get home.

On a previous trip to Hong Kong where my girlfriend’s nephew was on a Mormon Mission, we took him out for dinner one night. He suggested that we go to Pizza Hut because he didn’t get to eat back-home type food very often. It was quite different from American Pizza Huts. They had one page of regular pizza and one page of 1000 Island pizza. We ordered one with ham and kernel corn on a pizza with 1000 Islands dressing instead of tomato sauce. It was surprisingly good and I’ve made it on more than one occasion at home although I must tell you that my son gagged on it and wasn’t able to eat anything else that night.

Back on Sunday night in Japan, the pasta we had was in a tomato, oil and mustard sauce. I was curious to see how they would work the mustard into this dish and they surprised me. What they did was sauté some mustard seed in oil like it is done in India cuisine. Then they added fresh tomatoes and herbs. It was delicious and I’m definitely going to try and replicate that sauce. It could be the new secret ingredient that will have people asking what that unique flavor is that they just can’t quite name.

My friend is very talkative and since he had been to the restaurant before he knew everyone who worked there. My friend began to tease our waiter, a young good looking guy, about being a playboy. During a previous visit he found out that our waiter had a girlfriend and that she worked in the hair salon just up the stairs. He teased the waiter about how he pounced on the girls that worked nearby then he asked if she was willing to cut my hair. The waiter said, of course, and asked when I wanted to make an appointment. It was set for today.

I did not get the shave and massage that I had described in a previous blog about haircuts in Japan. This salon was geared toward women’s hair treatments so a shave was out of the question. I’m sure there are some countries in which women need to shave but Japanese women are so feminine that Japan couldn’t be one of them.

I did get the shampoo and man did I get a work over. The young assistant scrubbed and rubbed and rinsed and toweled for about 15 minutes. Then back into the salon for the cut. It went well. I chatted with the waiter’s girlfriend throughout the cut and we communicated smoothly. She spoke English on just a few occasions. See the results in the picture on the right side of the www.Zonajin.blogspot.com page if you are reading this on that site. I put it way down at the bottom so you’ll have to scroll down to see the results of the haircut.

I choked when I saw the price. Over $50. My friend had been suggesting that I go to the 1,000 Yen (just over $10) but then thought I wanted a better haircut than the speed cutters with the weed-wackers provide. This young lady is a stylist but I’m not sure I needed a $40 more haircut.

After, I walked into Kichijouji for lunch. I looked around for a restaurant and found one that had pictures of fish in their ad so I went in. I ordered a whole grilled sanma fish (Pacific Saury). I’ve been eating sanma every time it’s an option since I saw it on a television show shortly after I arrived. I’ve had it sashimi style and fried, so a whole grilled fish was something I had to try. There is a picture of my lunch set on the right. It came with a bowl of rice, a bowl of miso soup, pickles, yuba, a small bamboo salad and some apple jelly.

The fish was the main event and it required some effort. You have to separate the meat from the bones and the bones are small and thin. If you missed some they weren’t too bad to chew. The fish had a great fish flavor. Savory and moist with firm flesh. I’ve had better miso soup but that wasn’t what I was there for. I enjoyed my lunch.

Sumo Update

My favorite wrestler, Homasho, has lost his first three matches. He’s been up against Ozekis each day and tomorrow he goes against Yokozuna Hakuho. His problem is that he’s too high up in the rankings. The higher you are the tougher your competition. He will probably go against the final Ozeki on day five so I’m thinking he’s destine to have an 0-5 start. I’ve never seen him beat an Ozeki or a Yokozuna. He does well against middle ranked rikishi but can’t get by the top guys.

Yokozuna Hakuho is 3-0 as are a few other rikishi at various levels. It is possible that the top guys give each other fits and they all have 2 or 3 losses. If a lower ranked rikishi goes undefeated against lesser competition he still wins the basho and could do it without going against the Yokozuna or any Ozekis. This has happened in the far away past but recently the Japan Sumo Association has moved lower ranked rikishi up in the ranks during the basho so they face tougher competition.

Three of the Ozekis lost today for the first time leaving the Big Bulgarian Basher, Kotooshu, as the remaining undefeated Ozeki. He’s the tallest man in sumo and quite a favorite with the fans. He’s enormous and I met him at a banquet after the basho in September of 2007. He is a full head taller than I am and has huge hands. He kept looking at me out of the corner of his eyes as if he suspected I was a Bulgarian bad guy who came to settle an old score. Maybe I was the paranoid one but he never smiled and didn’t say a word even when I congratulated him on winning a basho the previous May. It might have been my Japanese.

As soon as he became and Ozeki he became complacent. After about a year he had a losing record in one basho which meant he was kadoban and if he didn’t get a winning record in the next basho he would be demoted. The next basho he came out strong and angry. It is the only basho that he has won. He pushed everyone around including both Yokozuna (at the time) and ended the basho with a 14-1 record. His one lost was by a henka where his opponent jumped to the side at the tachiai and Kootoshu’s own momentum took him out of the ring. Henkas are a cheap way to get a victory and are generally frowned upon. They say winning by henka is worse for a rikisi’s reputation than losing the match in a straight on battle.

There are links to the Japan Sumo Association on my author page at my publisher’s website, www.pensmithbooks.com. You can also watch the sumo matches live each night by going to the live streaming video connection page. Sumo starts at 4:00 PM each day in Japan. That’s midnight in Arizona and the west coast for this basho.

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