THEY WON!! It was a very fun game to watch, as Japan beat Hong Kong three to zero. If it weren’t for the pouring rain I would have chanced at calling it a perfect evening. As it stands I’ll just have to use terrific and exciting. As I see it, there’s always a silver-soccer-balled lining on giant rain clouds that come and rage over the National Stadium in Tokyo for hours on end.
We woke up early Thursday morning and traveled by shinkansen into Tokyo. There were six of us: my host mom, sister and brother, their aunt and cousin, and myself. The picture to the right is me, Masahito (my 12-year-old host brother), Yuki (my 16-year-old host sister), Koushin (their 12-year-old cousin) and Aunt Taiko-San. The boys, myself included, all love soccer, so it was a day we'd all been looking forward to for a while now.
We spent the morning shopping around the city, stopping at a huge soccer store called Kamo (where I took the picture of the soccer balls above), grabbing a tasty lunch at a soccer pub called Estadio, purchasing some new clothes in the famous shopping district of Shibuya, and relaxing in an eight-story bookstore that overlooks the district's main square. Around 6 o’clock we made our way to the National Stadium where we donned soccer jerseys, thick sweatshirts, raincoats, hats and mittens, and finally big, clear ponchos. Our seats were in a great location right between the visitor’s bench and the southern goal. Before the warm-ups were even over the players were absolutely dripping. The rain had started to pour around 4 o’clock and continued to blow all night long. The northern end of the stadium was devoted to the “supporters’ section” which included some of the loudest fans I’ve ever heard. They honestly started chanting as soon as the first team member set foot on the pitch and continued all the way until the last whistle was blown, only stopping during half time to rest their equally bouncing, screaming, clapping, flailing bodies along with the actual players. Halftime found Japan up 1-0, and the second half brought two more goals, one a beautiful header by Japan’s Japanese-Brazilian-Italian defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka. Funny enough, Tulio (as they call him here) is, just like me, only 6’1”, but he looked like a giant out there.
The match ended 3-0 and as soon as possible we were in a warm cab flying back home, followed by a cozy shinkansen back to Tochigi. The rain became sleet as we traveled north and by the time we stopped in Utsunomiya it was a nasty mixture of water, ice, snow, and slush. My host dad actually came all the way to pick us up because my host mom didn’t feel comfortable driving the roads at 11:00 at night. It took us nearly twice as long as normal to get home, meaning I wasn’t back in real dry clothes, warm in bed until 12:40 or 1:00. All I remember is tossing a bunch of dripping coats, hats, gloves, jeans and sweatshirts in the dryer, grabbing my nearest pair of PJs and turning up my heating blanket as high as it would go. I think for a little while there I’d forgotten what it felt like to be dry! I’m just glad the game turned out well! Very fun day and even better story = )
FYI, cherry on top of the cake, snow day today