Judo: The Art of Grappling

I remember in college, my individual physical fitness class was judo to my surprise. I was unaware this could even be a physical fitness class. So I entered the class not knowing and suddenly my professor for that class was a judo master and he was already briefing us on judo. I did not know whether to drop the subject or not because it might be very challenging and I might get hurt. In this class there were also women and they as well were going to do judo with other girls. I told myself to accept the challenge and if I did get hurt which was highly possible, I would just be exempted from the class the whole term so it was a win win situation I guess. Little did I know that this was going to be a crazy roller coaster ride. We were told to buy judo gees because this would make the grappling easier instead of a normal t-shirt and this is really the uniform for the sport. So then and there when I wore it to class, I already felt like a judo player, but there is so much more to it than looking cool in the outfit. We started the class with a prayer and having to bow to the Japanese guy who created the game as a sign of respect. I found it odd but that is how it is in japan. To start of the training, our professor made us run back and forth for warm up and do cartwheels and tumble until the end forward and backward. It was more intense than I even imagine and to think, that was just warm up, what was in store after? After we started learning grappling techniques, well the easy ones first, then we learned how to fall properly. Because if you are grappled and thrown, you should land a certain way so you will not get hurt. They call it break fall. Judo is very popular in japan and it definitely is a journey to go through. I would recommend anyone to give it a try.

 

Ekiden

Ekiden is what they call their marathon relay in Japan. It started around 1917 and was a run which lasted for three days. Using our legs and feet for sports is so common in all sports butt hen a relay and running really tests your endurance and how fast you can go. Running is thebest cardio and makes you lose weight the fastest. With that said, you should always hydratew hen doing these relay competitions. This race is done on the road and they close down the roads needed when there is a competition. In this sport, we can say that there are people in station and when they guy who has the stick passes it, the other guy can run as well or touche shim in the station, until you reach the long awaited finish line. Usually, it is a distance of five hundred eight kilometers that is run, that’s why it is done for three days. This sport is very popular in Japan because they like running and exercising. Japanese are always on the go if you visit their cities,  just  like New York. They even influenced other countries to make more races like these.

Now they are becoming very popular around the world and everyone is getting into it.  Running  is already a way of  life and a lifestyle to keep you healthy. A fifteen minute jog a day could honestly make you more energetic and make you burn those unnecessary calories. People go jogging at any time of the day, but mostly in the morning or night time. The breeze in these times of the day is so good that it makes running a lot more pleasurable. It is really amazing this marathon they have made that lasts for days. Even if you don’t win, it feels like such an achievement and you feel like you are a part of something bigger. A lot of teamwork is involved in this and while you are running you would think of pushing yourself to the limits you never imagined you could before, just so you can show your teammates you gave it your all.

Hiking Mt. Takao

Many tourists love to hike mount Takao because it is so beautiful. There are diverse species of plants, animals, and many other things. You will be able to see a lot of nice flowers and creatures living together in a calm habitat. You could even see religious Buddhists at times. This is a sacred mountain to the Japanese because there is a temple called Yakuo-in located here. At times, comfort women go to these sacred people to seek advice and wisdom. Anyone can do it from families to couples. People get scared to try hiking because they believe that you need a lot of training and conditioning to be able to do outdoor activities like these but it’s all about the pacing. Yes, you must live a healthy lifestyle because it will be a long hike, but if you put your mind to it, anything can be achieved. The mountain is amazing at any season and is always a different experience.

All of which are most likely to be good experiences and unforgettable memories. There is even a possible fire walking at march so keep your eyes out for that and start putting it on your planner or next activity you will surely try when you go to Japan. It is not only hiking you will experience but there is also a waterfalls which people say cleanses you. The view from this mountain is remarkable because you can see mount Fuji and so much more. The experience is just so serene. Sometimes, people say that when they need to think about something deeply or soul search, they go to this place and just relax while enjoying the fresh breeze and view. There are other people who are a little more adventurous. These people or couples usually camp out so they can see the most magnificent view of the stars from this mountain because this summit has so much to offer. You can also set up a camp fire just like the movies and share with each other stories while having a smore or two. Like is just so much more beautiful when we just take the time sometimes to appreciate it.

Exploring Mount Tanigawa

Japan is a country filled with natural sights to see and explore, especially as the seasons change and different tourist attractions change their colors. Being an archipelago, Japan is naturally littered with many mountains to conquer.

One such mountain is Mount Tanigawa. Of the popular mountains, Tanigawa is likely the most rugged and craggy, measuring in at almost 2000 meters (6800 feet) vertically. The mountain can be found in the northern parts of Minakami, on the borders of the Gunma and Niigata prefectures.

Winter is likely the best time to visit the mountain as its majority gets covered in some very fine powder snow during the coldest of months. It is in this time when one can take advantage of the appropriately located ski resort of the side of the mountain. During the fall months, the surrounding valleys become especially picturesque in their deep brown and orange colors, a beautiful contrast from the bright and loud colors of the Japanese cities.

Mount Tanigawa is part of the 100 famous Japanese mountains and attracts appropriate amount of annual visitors for all sorts of activities. Hiking and mountain climbing is a frequent reason for visitors to make their way to the tall piece of nature. There are a variety of different trails available for all levels of hikers, with the most experienced ones often opting to trying their hand at exploring the mountain away from the beaten path. Of course, it must be noted that in order to do so one must be adequately equipped and experienced as a mountain like Tanigawa is not the right one to get lost in during Japan’s cold months. The hiking season only lasts from July to November, thus anyone wishing to pay a visit to the mountain should plan accordingly. An average hike from bottom to top takes around 4.5 hours and can be a very rewarding experience.

Another major attraction the mountain has for itself is the Tanigawadake Ropeway. Those not inclined for the adventure of hiking can enjoy some of the most beautiful natural sights of Japan from the comfort of a gondola going up and down the slope of the mountain.

Image by visitgunma.jp

Culture Yourself in Naoshima

Japan is a country with many islands and they have some of the best outdoor activities you could ever wish for in a country, with many islands catering to different types of activities. Many smaller islands sustain themselves on an economy built around tourism and become a tourist attraction in that way.

Naoshima is one of those islands. On paper, Naoshima Island is an island town under the jurisdiction of the Kagawa District in the prefecture of the same name. Geographically, the island is located in the Seto Inland Sea, which can be found in the south-western part of the nation.

To be frank, Naoshima is tiny. With a population somewhere between 3000 and 4000, the island measures an area of just over 14 square kilometers, which are 5.5 square miles for users of the non-metric system. As mentioned earlier, islands such as these tend to have an economy built around tourism and Naoshima is the same, well known for its numerous contemporary art museums.

The island is home to some of the world’s greatest temporary artists’ works, mainly in thanks to the Benesse Corporation – one of the largest companies in Japan which has directed the construction and operation of the museums since the late 1960s. James Turell, Walter De Maria, Claude Monet, Tadao Ando – all names large in the community, and a lot of their works can be found right here on a tiny island in the south of Japan.

One of the most popular museums on the island is the Chichu Art Museum, which can quite literally be translated to museum “in the earth.” Designed by the aforementioned Ando, the buildings themselves are arts of work to appreciate and a dream for any architecture student and connoisseur, regardless of what’s held inside the buildings. In combination with the scenery of the island, Naoshima is one of the best places to visit for those that wish to experience real modern culture in an outdoor setting.

Outside of the art and tourism industries, Naoshima can attribute its sizable population to its association with Mitsubishi Materials, which has one of its largest refineries located on the island, further stabilizing the economy.

Image by wikitravel.org

Visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market

When you go out of your home country to do some traveling, you’ll get the most cultural experiences by staying outdoors – and Japan is the perfect place for doing just that. Rich with cultural events and places, there are many things one can see when exploring the outdoors.

One of the most rewarding experiences in Japan’s outdoors to have normally comes from being creative – hiking mountains and riding bikes can only be entertaining for so long – and is not always convenient when one has to travel within the country all the time to get to places worthwhile seeing.

One somewhat unorthodox outdoor activity would be to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market. And while that sounds royally boring I assure you it is most certainly far from that, especially if you hail from a country that isn’t all that big on delicacy from the sea or you haven’t had the opportunity to see what it is like to go see a proper fish market. One of the nearby areas is also well known historically for its

The Tsukiji Fish Market, or the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market for those not blessed with understanding of the Japanese language, is the single largest seafood market in the world and definitely one of the less common things you can experience when going to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Located in Central Tokyo along the Sumida River, the Tsukiji Fish Market is kind of hard to miss. The place is split into two parts, the inner and the outer market. The inner part is where most of the fish processing takes place and is likely not the right one for the ones who hate the smell of fresh fish, nor is it a place for the faint of heart as you’re more than likely to see a fish or two lose its head here or there.

The outer market might be more friendly for the average tourist looking for an outdoor experience. Many different stalls are set up here selling food (you’d be hard pressed to find one that isn’t selling some variation of sea food) and a lot of shops here sell kitchenware. An unorthodox outdoor experience for sure, but definitely filled with sights you’d never thought you’d see.

Image by japan-guide.com

Conquering the Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower is one of the most stand-out landmarks to visit in Tokyo, visually setting itself apart with its contrasting white and international orange color scheme, virtually vying for the city’s visitors’ attention. It is a fairly standard tourist attraction, but nonetheless a great outdoor activity to partake in when visiting the Land of the Rising Sun – after all, you can’t go to Tokyo without having at least paid a visit to the tower, that’d be like going to New York without seeing the Empire State Building or to Paris and ignoring the Eiffel Tower.

Tokyo Tower

Many will have actually seen the tower without having ever been to Tokyo as the landmark does often get in the cross-fire of fighting forces brought to life by the magic of cinema. Most notable would be the tower’s frequent involvement in the Godzilla franchise, a favorite recipient of destruction.

The tower did originally serve a purpose outside of being an observation platform for tourists as a piece of telecommunications infrastructure, used by mainly television and radio stations. Nowadays, given the power of the internet and other digital means of receiving radio signals, the tower’s main function is more in the tourism category, with millions visiting the tower annually.

There is only one taller structure in Tokyo outside the Tokyo Tower, which measures in at 333 meters, with a variety of regular buildings hovering below that at the 200m mark. One of the main reasons people flock the the tower is FootTown, located directly beneath the tower. FootTown is a four-storey complex which plays home to a variety of museums, restaurants and retail outlets, which are a great way of killing some time after spending some time outside on the tower’s 250m high observation deck.

In 2011, a fairly strong earthquake rocked Tokyo which resulted in the Tokyo Tower’s antennae being bent and rendered useless. Since then the tower has not been used in telecommunications anymore, with the function now falling to the Tokyo Skytree, which also took over the title of tallest building in the Land of the Rising Sun. Every tourist should take the time out of their trip to pay a visit to the tower and see Tokyo’s skyline, a truly impressive sight.

Image by destination360.com

 

Tashirojima

Cats. Either you love them or you hate them, but they’re not an animal you can really ignore, persistent and common as they are. The Japanese have an interesting relationship with cats, especially in modern culture – Hello Kitty, just for starters.

In another article we have had a quick look at Okunoshima, or rather Rabbit Island, an island overrun with tame rabbits that will flock to you the second they smell something edible. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Just when you thought an island filled with bunnies would be the line, you realize there’s more – a lot more in fact. Tashirojima, is as you’ve probably guessed, similar to Okunoshima, but instead of rabbits being the rulers of the island, this one is filled with wild cats.

On this island, the cats heavily outnumber the people – not all that hard when the community inhabiting the island numbers only around 100 or so, however they like the fact that they are more likely to run into a feline than their own neighbors. The fact that there are so many cats on the island is no coincidence – however unlike the bunnies from the sister island, they weren’t placed there as subjects for chemical weaponry testing. The locals of Tashirojima have always believed cats to be signs of good luck and have thus treated cats better than some humans treat other humans – caring for them, feeding them and bringing more cats to the island, resulting in what is now likely one of the densest population of cats per square mile on a single piece of land, a true heaven for the feline lover and a real tourist magnet.

Given the royalty status the cats enjoy here, it is not surprising that they aren’t kept as pets, as that would be inappropriate. Interestingly enough, the population has dwindled down from what used to be 1000 to what is now 100 – and despite this, the cats are more fiercely protected than ever, with dogs even being banned from the island as whole. Then again, any dog that would find themselves on an island dominated by felines isn’t likely to enjoy the experience for very long regardless.

Image by atlasobscura.com