What a night in downtown Osaka!
We’d spent the day in Kyoto, exploring temples and the geisha district of old Kyoto, Gion.
Again, we were fascinated by the strange signage, this time meaning ‘keep your hands off the geishas’! Not that we saw any, just lots of young people choosing to dress up in costume to walk around the area.
In our minds though, alongside everyone we met, was the match that evening between Ireland and Japan. One of our travelling companions, Di Haswell, has family here in Fukuoka and her 2 grandsons are hugely into the whole tournament, replica shirts and everything. Shame they were stuck in Saturday School for part of the match!
Even worse for their dad, Chris, he was supervising exams at his university and wasn’t allowed a phone!
We tried to find a space in the ‘English Pub’ on our street. Not a hope, even with an hour to go to kick off.
Everyone in Japan tries to be so helpful, so we basically relied on them not wanting, ever, to say no, and bullied the staff in our hotel to pulling down the big screen and putting it on in our bar. They weren’t entirely happy as most of the bar was reserved for a Japanese business’ training evening, complete with snacks and nibbles.
Check out the back table here:
By the time they all arrived, full suits, jackets and ties in 30 degrees and high humidity, the bar was rocking, as a crew of supporters from the Argentina game turned up, painted faces, happy drunk, plus the Swaffam RUFC who’d just landed from the UK, a few assorted locals, and the tv and media crews who use the hotel as a base and were also back from the Argentina game. A mixed collection, and with local Japanese watching through the plate glass windows, lots of interest from outside too.
You had to admire the dedication in that training session. Not once did they react to what was happening around them; they kept on working right until after the last whistle. Even then most headed home without a glance at the big screen, although one or two wandered over to join us and so probably will never progress further with that company!
Everyone else made up for it though. We were very noisy, lots of beer was consumed, which kept the bar staff happy, and the people on the pavement outside got so involved that one guy crashed into the glass in his excitement at the try and almost knocked himself out cold! Our new friends from Argentina explained that although they were pained blue and white, in Argentine shirts, they were actually from Mexico and choosing to follow Argentina instead of Uruguay as it’s closer to home…..
At the end of the game the Swaffham guys tried to drag us out for karaoke and more beer, but I decided the fate of Roth depended on me following the game, live. I checked out the Cambridge twitter and from that, updates from the Tiser, from Connor Field who volunteered to update me, and from Rotherham Rugby News, and managed to chew my nails throughout most of the next 2 hours! It’s awful and there’s 2 more games to endure this way.
Today, the Shinkansen- bullet train – is whisking us 2 hours down the coast to Hiroshima. In a car this would be a 5 hour journey and for about £40 for an air conditioned, reserved seat, with loads of legroom, it’s a bargain. Love the whole Japanese train system, cheap rail passes for foreign tourists, and huge stations you could live in for days!
Next game live for us is Wednesday in Oita, NZ v Canada, but tonight it will be another bar to watch my absolute hero, Alun Wyn Jones, break the record for number of international caps. Please, please, please let us beat the Australians.