Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Nippon Badminton League (27.12.04)

I’m at Narita Airport waiting for my flight to Hong Kong as I write this. I had to get up this morning at 4.30am but I actually managed to go to bed quite early so it wasn’t that hard to get up. The ride here takes a bit less than 2 hours on the normal train which isn’t too bad really. Gives you a bit of a chance to sleep/listen to music/read. What is silly is that the train runs on the hour every hour EXCEPT for the hour when I wanted to leave hehe. My flight is at about 11am meaning I needed to arrive at Narita by 9am – hence catch a 7am train. BUT there was only a 6am train or an 8am one for some reason... Also, this morning I almost managed to miss the train this morning despite getting up on time; I very intelligently left the dorm without one of my bits of luggage and didn’t realize until I’d been walking for a while…

As for the last day of the ski trip, I did manage to go boarding a little bit more. I wasn’t feeling the best in the morning though since we sort of stayed up till about 2am the night before. I fell over a few more times and hurt my bum even more – but still was a lot of fun. Ogu-chan worked out how to turn right properly by the end of the morning. Unfortunately, soon after that I managed to work my right boot holster loose of the board, which made turning very difficult. I had to walk down the slope in the end. The bus home left Nagano at about 3pm but was a lot faster than the one we took there (probably because it was during the day). We arrived at Ikebukuro at about 9pm and at Tokyo station by about 9.30pm. I got a chance to talk to Ogu-chan a bit more on the way back too. I got a bit of a surprise at how good her English is too – I somehow hadn’t heard her say more than one word at a time before the bus trip back. I guess living overseas while you are little really helps a lot when it comes to pronunciation. (オグちゃん、これを読めばコメントを書いてくれてね~)

Yesterday I went to watch the Badminton Nippon League finals with Sakane-san from training and two of the girls from the Keio High School badminton team. Basically the league is a team competition between the badminton clubs of various companies (for example, NTT East Japan, NTT Hokkaido, Unisys etc all have teams). The format is two doubles and one singles match. I originally thought it was a regular individual competition but I think in Japan this sort of team events are more common. On the way there we walked past a huge queue of people who were lining up for nothing other than a 鋼錬金術師 (Full Metal Alchemist) festival. I think the some of the singers who performed the opening/closing songs were showing up. The badminton queue outside the stadium looked pretty pitiful compared to that unfortunately. Still, inside the stadium the atmosphere was really fun. Most of the companies brought their own cheer squads along – and NTT even brought about 15 cheerleaders.

The stadium from where we were

The standard of the players was extremely high. The Sanyo women’s team had about 5 Japan nationals in it. It was probably the highest level of women’s badminton I’ve actually watched live before… As for the men, there were a couple of nationals who showed up too – and the last singles match of the day was actually between two of Japan’s top men’s players (both would be top 4ish). Even players not in the national team were also very strong – I think a lot of them would be stronger than most of Australia’s national team. As a result, yesterday was the first day I’ve actually filled up my entire camera memory card in one day – although that was largely because I think I took a lot of video clips. Anyway I think I’m going to have to board this plane in a sec so I better go.

Probably the best doubles match of the day

The second set

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