Tokyo took Emily again last weekend, when I took the train to Chichibu rugby stadium for the USA vs. Japan matchup. The band was playing before the game, and they got a few extra tickets for family members - me and the parents of one of the sax players. Since the guys all went up in a fancy charter bus, I met said parents at the train station and we co navigated ourselves up to the game. We had fun chatting, and even more fun checking out the ads on the train - I caught one in Engrish:
Because the privacy of your home is so passe.
One of the guys in the band is Japanese-American, and he had not only printed us train directions, he wrote down some Japanese on the paper that must have said something like "Please excuse me, I am an American idiot who cannot find a GIANT SPORTS STADIUM that is FIVE MINUTES' WALK from the train. So sorry. Would you please interrupt your more important task to walk my dumb ass to the entrance?"*
It worked! We showed it to a Lexus dealer (yep) and found the stadium.
Two hours before the game started.
Yeah. We had to be there early to meet the guys at the gate, since they didn't get our tickets until they arrived. They snagged us a couple box lunches, gave us our tickets, and left to get changed and play. And look how well we could see them!
I'm lying, of course. That's a crop of a zoom of a jumbotron. Here's the original picture:
And here's what it really looked like from our seats:
It was so disappointing. The band was super far away with no lights on them, and the PA system had a 1s delay, so the really fun upbeat songs were all garbled. But I finally got to see the brass band perform - Josh on the Jumbotron!! - and they managed to get the crowd clapping and cheering, despite the technical issues. They played a great set and then got to go change into people clothes for the game.
While they were changing, a Japanese jazz vocal quartet sang the American and Japanese national anthems, and I actually got a little misty during The Star Spangled Banner. Not so misty that I couldn't document it, though - good blogger, right? The team in white is the Americans, red is the Japanese.
I thought it was really beautiful. So were the rugby players I MEAN BAND. SO WAS THE BAND. That's what I said, right? Right.
So about the game...the Japanese fans were really polite and quiet during the game. They cheered really loudly when Japan scored (often) and when the officials called a penalty against the U.S. team (also often) but otherwise were nearly silent. This was useful, as it allowed every rugby player and fan to hear each American fan screaming WOOH WOOH WOOH! KILL HIM. KILL HIM!! USA WOOOOOOH! during, say, a scrum or running play or, you know, time out. Yikes.
Also we got spanked. The Japanese team was faster and better organized than the US of A, and I learned after the game that the US team hadn't won since 2006, save a match against Uruguay last week. A match from which all the Uruguayans' European players were absent. Go Amurricuh!
It was a really fun game, despite the loss and the fact that it took Josh and me two nauseous, standing hours to get home on the train. We'll figure this out, I swear.
And now for your viewing pleasure, rugby players doing funny warmups. If you squint, you can see individual players, I swear. Kisses!
*Okay, Shin probably didn't write it exactly like that. But it would've been accurate.