Well, another football game against Japan is over. The centre of another trip. The excuse for drawing 3 others into our traveling party this time. Joining with the Green and Gold Army. Joining the 62,000 singing and screaming Blue Samurai fans. Cheering for the Socceroos.
Read about it elsewhere as they say, especially now that both Japan and Australia have qualified for Brazil 2014.
But how about the bits before and after the game. The elements that make coming to this rich and interesting country (for football) such a great experience.
The safe and welcoming subway ride (if not a bit crowded). The walk from Urawa-Misono station to the Stadium with the throngs of Blue Samurai fans. Many, many photo opportunities with local fans, especially after the Socceroos banner was pulled out! Quite a upbeat mood and a genuine willingness to embrace us Australians as visitors.
After the game, Australian fans flowed out, me with a number of supporters flags and shirts to swap. But very few Japan fans to be found. 60,000 of them staying inside the Stadium until every player interview was conducted, screaming and yelling in support seemingly on every phrase.
Much to the chagrin of the nearby Security Guard ushering me away, I did get close enough to one of those fans to swap shirts as a long-lasting moments of another great trip.
A great night.