Sunday, 8 July 2012

WUGC Day 1, Sunday 8th July

While it was the first day of play for all other Ultimate divisions, Women’s Masters don’t start until Tuesday.  We used the morning as an opportunity to train together again.  We brushed up on our connections and zone defenses, an intriguing site for the neighbouring soccer players, not to mention the sumo school or cage of monkeys.

The afternoon was free time, with the majority of players choosing to head to the fields.  First stop the Australian Mixed team (Barramundis) beat both Germany (17-10) and Finland (17-1).  The Australian Men’s Masters (Wombats) got up over the USA (16-13) – described as an entertaining game due to the characters involved.  The Women’s team (Firetails) followed up their showcase game with a win against Singapore (17-5).  The Open team (Dingoes) “beat up the Frogs” (17-8).

As I was flying straight back to Australia after the final game of the tournament, I joined up with Liz and Lu to explore the area.  We each had already found some lunch at a local street market where you could buy fresh seafood and grill it yourself over hot coals in buckets on each table, a band singing Engrish onstage.

Going in search of a temple that Liz had spotted from her hotel room, we came across a park where hundreds of kids were waiting to play, were playing or had just played.  The boys were there for baseball on the lushest grass I had seen and the girls for a version of basketball.  The boys were really cute all in their matching, complete baseball outfits, but the three of us were most intrigued by the girls’ game.  Played on gravel in the steaming heat, there were no basketball rings.  Instead, at each end, there was a stool that one of the players would stand on, and around them, a semi-circle that a defender would stand in.  It appeared that every other aspect of the game was the same, but to score, a team would throw the ball to their teammate on the stool to catch.  As is fitting for an Australian, we cheered for the underdog.  This team fielded one of two girls who were a head shorter than everyone else, looked 6 where the others were 8 and who ended up standing near their own goal daydreaming.

The park was an oasis in a very industrial area.  The whole family was out and we dubbed the playground a ninja training ground given the amount of balancing equipment.  Leaving there with a hundred photos of Japanese kids, we felt like our stereotype of the Japanese was reversed.

Our search for the temple aborted, we headed back to the local market, only to find it had been packed up, then back to the hotel to form our next plan.  A tourist map supplied the answers – we headed to the Nintoku-ryo Tumulus (Emperor Nintoku's burial mound) and Daisen Park to visit a tea house.  A couple of trains later, we found the Tumulus, really only visible from the air, it’s a giant keyhole shaped mound covered in greenery, surrounded by a moat, more greenery and another moat.
We headed to the tea house in nearby Daisen park, only to find it closed.  The park itself was probably a more authentic Japanese experience and it was full of people.  We stopped to watch a couple of games Shoji (Japanese chess).  One of the elderly men in particular took an interest in us and we tried to converse.  He asked us where we were from (Australia), whether we were students (no), how old we were (30 – really? Asking a woman how old she is?), whether we were married (after showing them my ring, he then examined both Liz and Lu’s hands) and whether we had children (no).  To start with I thought he was trying to pick us up, but on reflection, I think he was just curious about our culture and expectations for women in general.

The rest of our afternoon passed with a quiet sit by the lake, praising the ingenious fishermen, laughing at the groups of giddy lap dogs and their owners, learning some Japanese phrases, respect for an elderly man's high knee hill runs, taking photos of tiny kittens and a wander through the serenity of the park.

We met the rest of the team in Namba (there is more than one information centre..) for dinner - a delicious combination of food including a highlight Shamba(?) where you cook your own food in a giant pot of boiling stock.  From there, an exploration of the river and some icecream for dessert.

Unfortunately, all my images from this day were corrupted - it's a good thing I have such a good memory.

No comments:

Post a Comment