Left the printed itinerary at home again, but atleast this time I had it on a thumb drive to print out sometime. My room at the Ueno Terminal Hotel is just about big enough to swing a cat in, but comfortable and reflects the price I paid for it. (6,100 yen is about $80).
Another bit of detaiｌ Ｉ ｌｅｆｔ ｂｅｈｉｎｄ ｗａｓ the local dialing codes to make international phone calls. Now that took some work to find, but the first contact back with Veronica was the absolute priority.
Don’t call me a train spotter, but…..I took the Toden Arakawa Line street car from Minowabashi to Waseda. One of 2 remaining street car lines in Tokyo, it was a great 15km trip through the suburbs of northern Tokyo. For real train spotter action, I saw a guy at Ebisu station (JR Yamanote Line if you must) with a long recording mike stretching up to the ceiling mounted speaker, to record the details of the next train action. And I just thought is was the British.
Off to the J-League Football to see Kawasaki Frontale play Hiroshima Sanfrecce in a Japan Cup game at Shinmaruko. Absolutely fantastic. And the marketing…you don’t see this at a Sydney FC game. Outside the Stadium, there is a great park, and in it must have been 20 tents and stalls selling merchandise, food and drinks, and running activities. Thousands of Kawasaki fans (especially families) hung around here. And you could take your food and drink into the ground!
When I got in to find a seat (I got a ticket to the general area) there were bags, books and clothes all over the good seats. What’s this? People mark out their territory and then go elsewhere to chat, eat and drink. Can you picture this at an Aussie footy game?
We even had a ‘seat nazi’ who would greet new fans as they came up the stairs and find them the required number of seats. This includes moving people over one or two seats, so that single spare seats are used up. Had to see it to believe it, and all the locals are absolutely comfortable with it.
And… what about the person who comes around during the game to collect rubbish? Or the people at every exit stair again with bags to collect rubbish?
The Japanese soccer fans are world renowned for their fanaticism – but it is an inclusive form. Songs are sung the whole game (90 minutes for those non-believers) not just by the core fan group who lead the singing and drum beats, but men, women, young and old in the whole ground. Quite spectacular and exciting. By the way, Kawasaki Frontale won 3 – 1. By coincidence, my Sydney FC jersey was the same colour as Kawasaki, so I looked like a home fan. Well, apart from the causcasian look, grey hair, hairy legs, round eyes and ………….
Travelling back to Ueno at 9:30pm the trains coming from Tokyo were absolutely packed – and trains on most lines run every 5 minutes or so.. Surely these thousands of people actually live on those trains.
(Wednesday 27th July, 2011)