Yesterday was our last day & night in Japan and the last game we were watching (SA v Italy). We really had done everything there was to see in Hamamatsu so we decided to spend the morning in the room and leave for the stadium around 3pm. We had to take a train to the stadium this time – about 5/6 stops – 30 minutes roughly. We got off at Aino station which then requires a short walk to the stadium.
As we (and most of the train) exited, we were directed toward a fan area which had food stalls and a stage where various people were doing performances. There were a large number of Safricans around. M & I got some lunch of fried chicken, soba noddles (for M) and fries (for me). We sat on the edge of the area and ate our late lunch and watched the festivities. They started to play a South African house song (recognisable to both M & I but we don’t know the name). A large group of Safricans took over the stage and started dancing as only Safricans can do. The announcer said ‘5 minutes only’.
M & I then started walking up to the stadium. In honour of B we had one last soft serve ice cream as we headed up. The stadium is on the side of a hill and has a travelator to get up to it. Probably the longest travelator I have ever seen. Of course our seats were on the other side of the stadium so we had to walk right around the stadium to get to our seats.
M got his second cider of the trip (Japanese don’t do cider clearly) at the stadium and we were in our seats relatively early again (despite leaving much later). The atmosphere in the stadium was the best we have experienced so far. You could hear the Safricans singing the national anthem and there was definitely more support for the Springboks (even from the locals) than Italy. We really enjoyed the game especially since we were so dominant but the atmosphere really added to it as well. It was pretty chilly though and for the first time in over 2 weeks M & I put on a jersey towards the end.
As the game ended we headed out as quickly as possible knowing that it was going to be difficult to get onto a train as everyone was likely heading to the station. We walked very quickly and also did some good Safrican jaywalking to get past the baton wielding traffic police. We managed to pass a good few thousand people and into the station about 2-3 minutes before a train left. We headed to very last carriage which was relatively empty in comparison to all the other carriages. The train going the other direction was packed full though and they were literally pushing people in so that the doors could close (the classic Youtube clips you see of people being pushed into Japanese trains at rush hour).
We got back to the hotel at around 10pm. We are now on a Shinkansen train to Shinagawa where we change to a local line to Hamatsucho and then onto the Tokyo Monorail to Haneda Airport. Our flight leaves at 5pm for Singapore where we have two hours layover before connecting onto the flight back to Cape Town.
It was a really great trip not only experiencing Japanese culture and people but also watching the rugby. It is a country well worth visiting. I will send my summary thoughts of Japan later today as well so today you get blessed with a double blog!
Until next time (which will be a road trip in Dec/Jan) …
P & M