This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nippon! clap clap clap Nippon!...

My wife, does not like sports. She has never understood why people devote so much time and energy following sports. I brought her to her first sumo match. Coming to the US she thought the Super Bowl was where Americans go to knock down 10 pins and that LeBron was a river in Belgium. However, the morning after Japan's late night match against Cameroon, the first thing my wife says after waking up is, "I wonder if Japan won?"

The nation was ecstatic about the Blue Samurai's victory. It was Japan's first ever World Cup win on foreign soil. News channels (not sports channels) were going on all day about the game.

In Ina, Mika's hometown, on Saturday evening, they are having a public showing of Japan's next match vs. The Netherlands. I make Mika go down with me to check it out. It is rainy season here, and dark clouds are looming. On the drive down we are wondering if anyone will even show up. When we arrive the rain starts and there are only around thirty people milling about.
But the atmosphere is fun. News cameras were interviewing people in soccer jerseys. People are excited for the game. Everyone gets a raffle ticket for a chance to win free prizes. There is a stand selling beer and tako yaki - a delicious fried dough ball with octopus inside and a staple at every Japanese festival.
A half hour to kick-off it is getting quite busy, and the rain starts falling. There are a lot of young adults. Up until now we have rarely seen anyone in their twenties in this town. I thought the whole town was just old people and families with small children. The MC announces the raffle winners, and they do some cheers. At kick-off the rain stops, as if God likes soccer.

There is one group of rowdy guys with noisemakers who stand the whole game and lead everyone in cheers. There are several cheers throughout the 90 minutes, but just one stands out as the favorite. It is repeated as loud and as many times as possible. "Nippon" = "Japan" in Japanese.

NIPPON! Clap Clap Clap NIPPON! Clap Clap Clap NIPPON! Clap Clap Clap...

With about nine minutes left in the match and Japan's hopes quickly fading, the rain starts again. No one leaves. We go to the back of the crowd to stand under our umbrella. The whistle blows and everyone scatters quickly to avoid the downpour. People are disappointed, but no one is depressed or crying. The Japanese are pragmatic people. Everyone was pretty much hoping for a tie.
Goal!!!! Mika scores a towel at the pre-game raffle.

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