Thursday, February 16, 2006


Last weekend I went to see Yuki-chan play soccer in Hachigamine. I arrived a little late, so I called Yuki's mom from the parking lot and asked where they were sitting, since there were hundreds of people and at least ten soccer teams in the park. Toshi-san and I had a hilarious exchange on the phone, with me saying, "You . . . where is it?" and her asking me what color my shirt was. That part cracked me up because just in case she missed the only six-foot tall person within 1,000 kilometers, and if the blonde hair didn't tip her off right away, she would at least be able to pick me out of the crowd because of my navy coat.

The whole thing was a crazy Japanese culture lesson, complete with the dads huddling together discussing work and chain smoking, and the moms buzzing, almost levitating, around the drink station, handing out bottles of Calpis, Pocari Sweat and green tea to tiny cutie pies in uniform. It was hard to know what to do with myself, so I mostly stood by Toshi and tried to blend.

Before the game there were group calisthenics, of course. Every day I see this as I pass a fire station and a manufacturing company on my way to work. I haven't been able to snap a picture yet, but I have to before I move. It's impossible not to giggle.

During the game all the women stood and the men got to sit right by the boundary line of the field. The coach chain smoked and yelled to the players. The game itself was pretty normal for a kid soccer game, someone gets hit in the face during the first few minutes and cries the rest of the game, the kids forget which side they're headed towards and kick the ball in the wrong direction, etc. But this was different: after the other team completely whupped Yuki's team, all the tiny people lined up on the field and bowed to one another. Then the coaches met and bowed deeply to one another. Just like back home.

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