Wednesday, April 4
Indigestion in Game-Show Form

*Humff* Needed about two dozen pieces of toast this morning to recover from last night.

Relaxing for the morning involved sitting in a cold room, watching the third Pokemon movie. On the nice days we've had, the weather has been fantastic. At this time of the year, the warm temperature is just perfect for us "lumberjacks and furtraders" from Canada. When it's cold, then we're accustomed to central heating. Not the case in Japan. It's friggin' COLD on rainy days - and there's no where to escape it. Finding the ideal position close enough to the propane heaters is a complex function of gaining maximum heat balance on all sides of your body while not setting oneself aflame.

The giggles from watching Pikachu and Bulbasaur battle Entei and the Unknown Pokemon also contributed to stoking my internal furnace. For the record, Seiko had no part in choosing the video as my birthday gift. She made that fact very clear. Several times.

The family went into Nara for some shopping. The mall of shops we went to is the neighbourhood where John used to teach, so it was the perfect place for us to go - if we got lost, John would be able to find our way out. I've bought some gifts before today and I have what I want to bring back for myself - but there's still a few names on my list to scratch off.

Gift-giving is a difficult thing for me. Gifts that I receive always hold a "From:" tag in a separate part of my mind. I always remember who gave what to me and on which occasion. Taking a lesson from my brother, Dave, I've started buying birthday, anniversary and Christmas gifts throughout the year so I'm not stressing out the day before (btw - buying online helps avoid department store lineups too). However, on a vacation there is the same WANT of buying gifts for others but not the preparation time - especially if your trip is to a culture you've never really seen up close before.

(*HINT* Some of the above was written in effort to have friends/family appreciate my gifts even more. No one would ever say that I'm subtle or that I'm known for my modesty)

We visited a Christian Church in the area that we spotted last time we browsed through. While it was Anglican (my Dad HAD to see it), the building design didn't follow any that we've seen before in Canada. I'm still not sure if this is standard architecture for churches in Japan, but John used that as an excuse for never having visited a single Sunday when he first came to Japan.

The height (or rather, lack thereof) of Japanese people really hit home with the time when my parents asked where John was and I pointed at him two hundred feet away with a few dozen people in between. Even my "vertically challenged" parents could see his head, shoulders and chest above the rest of the crowd. When I came to Japan, I expected the average height of Japanese to be noticeably shorter than the Canadian average. It's more like one person in a hundred is above 5'5" but is a total freak at more than six feet tall.

After an afternoon of insulting the shopkeepers with my condescending English and bad Japanese we headed home to a slightly warmer building - the heaters having run pretty much all day.

Since coming to Japan, I've seen some "interesting" game shows. The most entertaining one was an eating contest. Usually thin people, balance of men and women (at the beginning before the disqualifications) and hardly a smile among them. One woman looked and dressed like a Japanese Janet Reno. Never cracked a smile through the whole three hour special lest the audience think she might be human. In the first round she beat out a really cute woman I wouldn't have minded watching through the other rounds of play. I instantly hated her and cheered for whoever was up against her for the rest of the game.

Round 1: One-on-one Sushi Dual. Surrounded by small plates of sushi, the contestants are to consume as many plates as they can in one minute.
My Estimate: I could have taken twelve plates easy.

Round 2: 45 minute buffet. Four contestants at a time have 45 minutes to put on as much weight as they can. A full buffet surrounds them with water, juice, steak, rice, soup, and a dozen or so cakes. Contestants are able to bring in their own items for gaining weight and several did. Another cute woman sat down and ate an entire chocolate cake, went to the buffet and got rice to wash it down. Insane. The Japanese Janet Reno put on 6.66 kg (nearly 15 lbs) and held top spot for almost the entire competition until one guy dissolved weight-gain powder in four litres of water and downed it all. He proceeded to have a dozen 150 ml cups of soup, rice, and concluded with several more bottles of water. He put on 8.9 kg (nearly 20 lbs) which had to account for a 10-15% increase in body weight for someone his size.
My Estimate: I could have put on 6 kg, but that would just barely get me to the next round. If I drank 15-20 lbs of water I would be peeing for days.

Round 3: One-on-one "Choose your weapon". The two contestants sit down across the table from one another. We're up to the elite eaters now. There's tablecloths, tuxedos and elaborate sets for them to do battle with. By a draw they find out who chooses the meal. Some options are steak, Chinese noodles and okinomiaki. Most plates finished in 15 minutes wins.
My Estimate: My first choice would be steak, but I don't know if I could compete with the one or two people who downed five 8 oz. plates. When I saw that three bowls of Chinese noodles was the most consumed by any one person, I know that I could get to the next round by that.

Round 4: Championship Round. Down to three contestants, the battle is simply to eat as many LARGE bowls of Chinese noodles in the allotted time as possible.
My Estimate: No competition. I would have been whupped in this round. Two contestants downed eleven bowls of hot, spicy noodles - while the third blew away eighteen bowls and was still going long after the other two conceded defeat and the time-out buzzer went. The Champion was the same guy who put on twenty pounds in round 2. From his size you would never guess it.

I had one bowl of noodles and went to bed. I think I would have a better chance of winning in Jeopardy Tournament of Champions then any Japanese game shows