Saturday, December 06, 2008

Japan December 2008

compare and contrast - China and Japan.

Firstly there is a substantial cost difference. In Beijing a large meal and drinks is easily available for less than £7 whereas in Tokyo that gets you just a pint.

In Tokyo the local girls favour hot pants or short skirts as they walk , in characteristic pigeon toed fashion, the busy streets. Coloured hair is almost mandatory for younger people of both sexes.

The transport system of the greater Tokyo area is nothing short of awesome. Even after being around Shinjuku for two weeks I would still end up at a different station exit virtually every time.
In China they have buses to spare.

It would take a long time to describe and , not least, understand the Japanese rituals whereas in China there is a lot less ceremony.
That is also evident on the streets where it's every man for himself even if the lights are green when you are crossing the road. The Japanese wait patiently. They also queue in an ordered fashion.

For this visitor, apart from the football, the experience of visiting Hiroshima was especially memorable. The stark atomic bomb dome.

The incredibly moving Peace Memorial Museum with the story of Sadako Sasaki and the paper cranes , the boys tricycle, the shadow on the steps and the stories from the survivors.

Unbelievably within a couple of days of the bomb dropping some of the city trams were running again.

Greens go down.

Tokyo Verdy 0 Kawasaki Frontale 2
One down , one second.

Frontale brought plenty of blue-clad fans to fill most of the right hand goal at the Ajinomoto stadium in Tokyo.

Verdy had their support in green to the left but they would be disappointed as their side ended up relegated.

From the start Frontale had just a slim chance of winning the J-league , they went on the attack and nearly scored after 45 seconds. But Juninho (from Palmeiras rather than Middlesboro') missed as he would do on many other occassions.

Verdy were content to slow the game down and did so even more after they had a guy sent off. Juninho put the subsequent penalty wide of the goal.

Somehow the first half finished goalless.

After 65 minutes a neat move between the tricky Uruguyaun Renatinho and Juninho resulted in the former slotting the decisive goal.

A late second right foot strike from Nakamura sealed it in injury time.

Both sets of fans produced plenty of noise and displayed the usual impressive , colourful flags and banners.

Jubilo hold Veg.
Vegalta Sendai 1 Jublio Iwata 1

The first leg of the J league 1/2 play-off between third bottom Jublio of League 1 and 3rd top Vegalta from J-2.
Sendai is about 2 hours and a quarter on the Shinkansen going north of Tokyo. The home side played this one at their atmospheric Vurtec (Sendai) stadium a subway ride from the centre.

It was pretty much a sell out (19,000) as the home fans cranked up the noise , sang their songs and waved their numerous large flags. Jubilo brought a good number of their blue clad fans.

Ok its derivative but the locals do generate a decent atmosphere although it doesn't always correspond with the onfield play.

It would seem Sendai now have a difficult task as Jubilo in the end looked fairly comfortable though Vegalta did go in front through front man Brazilian Nadson as he was put clear to score decisively late on in the first half.

Jubilo got back on terms after 53 minutes when 19 year old midfielder Matsuura shot in - he could one to watch for the future.

After that Sendai generated some pressure and Ryang did hit the bar with a free kick but it was not enough to make another breakthrough.

Australians beat Kiwis.
Adelaide Utd 2 Waitakere Utd 1
played in the Tokyo National stadium this was the first game in this years Club World Cup.
For this observer a rather surprising number turned out (19,000) on a coldish night to watch in virtual silence. Only in brief moments do the crowd show their allegiance for the relative underdogs (Waitakere)
We had an opening ceremony that started dramatically and finished without much of a climax. Good light show and stirring music , a globe that levitated , the club colours displayed but a somewhat anticlimatic and relatively lenghty finish.

The game itself was characterised by set pieces - corners (Adelaide had 19) and free kicks.
Waitakere, totally against the run of play, scored after a free kick had been mishandled by the Adelaide goalie.

The Australians got back level soon after from a corner with a decisive header by Mullen.
It took a free kick late in the second galf and a glancing header by captain Dodd to settle the issue.

The Kiwis had battled hard and had the entertaining Fijian Krishna - a lively, speedy but unpredictable front runner.

Hot Tuzos.

Al Ahly (Egypt) 2 Pachuca (Mexico) 4 after extra time.
The second game in the Club World Cup also played at the Tokyo National (Olympic) stadium produced a higher quality match. This time there were noticeable groups of fans from both teams and, again, a higher than expected attendance , given as over 30,000.
Perhaps fortunate to go in 2-0 ahead at the break the Egyptians had scored from a deflected own goal after a Aboutrika break.
The second was totaly different - an excellent right wing move again involving Aboutrika again and Barakat who made the cross for Angolan Flavio to score high into the net.

The Pachuca coach thought later that they did not deserve to be behind and indeed they had missed some decent chances. But to this observer it seemed unlikely Pahuca would retrieve the sitauion after the break.

However an early 2nd half goal from a set peice gave them the confidence and Al Ahly were pressed back, made passing errors and seem to lose confidence (admitted by their Portuguese coach)

Argentinian Gimenez scored the free kick equaliser and Pachuca nearly finished it in normal time.
But in the extra period another Argentinian Alverez scored for 3-2 and a second from Gimenez completed the win.

So Pachuca will meet Ldu Quito and Al Ahly will play for fifth place.

It got cold and a brisk walk back to the assault on the senses that is Shinjuku was needed for me to warm up. A curry and some local Bon Rouge wine finished the evening.
I returned via Narita (and the Red Eye club - they make some decent cocktails) to China.

Back in Beijing the Olympic stadium area was busy with local tour parties many taking pictures of the impressive 'Bird's Nest'.

further pics at

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