World Cup Madness In Tokyo   Leave a comment

Japan fever is in the air.

I’m at the Hachiko Exit (Exit 8) in Shibuya, in a throng of at least four thousand people. Japan is preparing to possibly enter the final eight of the world cup group, and the fans are out and about to show their love. In front of me, a tall Japanese guy is getting the crowd amped. With the Japanese flag painted on his face and his cheeks flushed red from alcohol intake, he screams “NIPPON! NIPPON! NIPPON!” (Japan! Japan! Japan!) and hundreds of voices chorus in, with a dozen or so guys forming a small mosh pit. I’m actually not feeling so hot. The day was pretty slow, and I came out tonight only to experience Japan World cup madness. Guys were saying that when Japan beat the Netherlands, people were kissing strangers, hooking up left and right and generally going crazy. With my camera is tow, I wanted to capture some of that… provided Japan won the match.

I’m hanging out with my usual motley crew of Jamaicans, Germans and Americans living in Japan. We go to a Family Mart to start the ceremonies with a few drinks. I immediately notice a difference in the behaviour of the Japanese women around me. I’ve been to Shibuya quite a few times and I rarely get a second glace, today, eyes were all on me. The women, like the men, were dressed in blue soccer jersey, and many had the Japanese flag painted on their face. Maintaining their relatively shy behaviour, it was easy to see that the rampant public displays of emotion had allowed them, at least for that night, to be more relaxed around foreigners. A few women approached me and asked me to snap pictures with them, which is unheard of.

Back at Hachiko, the crowd had swelled even more and now they were perfoming an interesting ritual. Whenever the lights changed, the group would storm the crossing, jumping up and down and screaming while people grabbed, groped, and stomped each other while gleefully screaming Nippon for the world to hear. A few times I joined the fray, getting beer split on me, half hoping I didn’t lose my Iphone in the mob.

Soon after we headed to a spot called the Hobglobin bar, to watch the match. It was beyond capacity, and I spent a large portion of the match outside, having inebriated discussions about writing and Japanese culture with a few foreigners. When I happened to be inside, I was rooting for Japan. As the game went to penalties and the fourth Japanese striker missed his mark, I knew it was over. The audience clapped and shouted “Nippon!” a few more times before everyone left, going back outside into the night.

Please check the VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS HERE! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRWmAw4zi0s

Posted July 10, 2010 by marcusbird in Events in Japan

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