The day has finally arrived. We are heading back home from this long trip after 18 weeks. While Stacey and Ben finish packing up all of luggage I had one last thing to do. After failing to secure tickets for Monday, my friend Wesley and I got up early, around 6am, to wait in line to get tickets for the sumo tournament that was being held in Tokyo. Most of the advance tickets had already sold out and we were not going to pay $95 anyways. While we were in the nosebleed seats, the stadium was pretty much empty as the main wrestlers don't enter til around 2pm with the grand champion matches held around 5pm. Sumo is a wrestling match that is steeped in Shinto traditions. The ring itself is a sacred place and there are several purification rituals they do throughout the day to keep it so. The purpose is to either push or throw your opponent out of the ring or to have any part of his body, other than the souls of his feet, touch the ground. The ring is raised and several times the wrestlers would tumble off into the crowd.
For lunch we had chankonabe. This is the traditional dish served to sumo wrestlers to increase their weight in a healthy and nutritious way. While there are different styles, this one had chicken, cabbage and mushrooms in a fish stock. It was actually rather light and, having only eaten a rice ball from a convenience store hours before. was filling.
From here it was a scrabble on several different subway/train lines to reach the airport on time. Once we got our tickets and made our way through security (Ben lost his North Korean wine as he forgot to put it in Stacey's checked luggage), we met up with one final person on the trip. My mother happened to be flying through Narita airport just hours before we left Japan. She is on her way to Singapore for a tour of SE Asia and if I had done better planning I could have joined her and extended my trip a few more weeks. However, I had no money left and Stacey would have been very angry with me.
From Tokyo, we flew to Los Angeles and onward to Portland. For reasons I will never know, it would have been $1,200 more to fly on Delta's direct flight to Portland that Stacey was on, then it was to fly via Singapore Air and Alaska Air via LAX. As it was, I prefer non-American carriers and enjoyed several Singapore Slings and watched some summer blockbuster movies that I had missed. Due to the international date line, we arrived 12 minutes before we left Japan. Since I got up early, it was about 30 hours that I stayed awake other than a few minute naps on the plane. Arriving in the evening, I wanted to make sure I was tired and could fall asleep. Stacey was waiting for me due to her earlier flight. I immediately went and got Sichuan and Mexican food within a hour of landing.
Ben and I have traveled over 25,000 miles for this trip and now I must return to a regular life and begin compiling and testing recipes for cook book. It might be audacious but I hope to have a rough draft by Thanksgiving and have it edited by Christmas. Thank you for reading and to all who have helped me along the way. I will continue to post updates on this blog as the book comes together.