Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Rainy Season, Fat Men and Nutcrackers

Rainy season in Japan is not quite what I expected it to be. I expected to be enjoying scenes like this around now: 

Mount Fuji visible from the Sano ground. My debut was rained off. 
Coming from England, where it can rain at any moment, I am at least used to the wet. I’ve also experienced monsoon weather in Nepal where the water can come halfway up your shins, and tropical storms in both the Caribbean and Northern Australia which are usually short, sharp and give way to clear skies and stunning sunsets, but here it’s not quite any of those.

Today there was a massive hailstorm in Tokyo. You can read about it by clicking here, it may not have been as bad as the scene from The Day After Tomorrow, but it's getting there!

An example of the recent weather conditions
In Sano it’s damp, grey and gloomy; often pretty dark and the guttural rumble of a storm is never all that far away. Not so long ago it rained solidly for pretty much two weeks. The temperature however, is holding steady in the mid-twenties with humidity levels rising all the time, increasing the dampness. There are bursts of sunshine, which is enough to keep me sane, and I'm sure once the real summer heat kicks in I'll be longing for more rain. I'm told of course, that Sano has it's own unique weather system, and is also famous for its strong winds in autumn. I shall look forward to those. 

It’s an incredibly British thing to do, moan about the weather, but when you work in a sport that is pretty reliant on the sun shining you can see how it might put a bit of a bee in my bonnet.

In truth we have been quite lucky. The ICC Tournament that was just kicking off in my last post had glorious weather with the only rain coming on the rest day. This was just one of the many factors that made the event a great success (my own outstanding contribution being another of course), and all it needed was a Japan win to round it off. Losing in the final was therefore pretty irritating to say the least. There’s a decent six-minute video of the event here should you wish to see a few highlights.

The weather is not the only thing to have changed. The contrast between my first three months in Japan, and the second three could not be starker. If that first section was characterised by raw fish, no booze and a gigantic dollop of exercise, then the second has been significantly less austere.

The fish have remained raw, that much I promise and the below video should certainly prove as much (squeamish people and vegetarians are advised not to watch), but everything else has rapidly shifted to the other end of the spectrum.

Visits from Cricket Australia are largely to blame (you know who you are), and the discovery of a number of bars in Sano that, despite not looking like much from the outside, have a willingness to stay open to the early hours should the punters so desire, have combined to plant me back on a path I thought I had stepped off after departing London. This may also have contributed to the lack of any blog for almost two months.

Incredible support from Cricket Victoria
I am of course, not complaining. It’s been bloody entertaining. The folks who have visited have been a seriously good bunch, and every single one incredibly positive and supportive of cricket out here, which is a real shot in the arm.

My project kicked off back in late May, beginning with the School Cups and now the six week series is about half way through. A more detailed explanation is here for those who missed it. This has meant that prior to the weekend just gone I’d not had two days off in a row since March, so it’s safe to say I was due. The bosses from the ICC are over this coming weekend, and while numbers are not where I would like them to be, I hope there are enough signs of encouragement for them to extend the funding another year.

If it does then I fully intend to see more of Japan. Thus far all I’ve managed is a trip to the Sumo, which was seriously awesome (some of those guys are properly massive), and a sightseeing day around Tokyo, which included a trip up the Skytree like a proper tourist. I do however, desperately want to get out into the countryside and see more of rural Japan. Plans are afoot to do something along those lines next month, which will be brilliant. 

Large men who spent a lot of time in a tight embrace
Right, this is long enough. I’ll try to more regularly again – it was a pleasant surprise to receive a few queries from folks wondering if I was still alive having not blogged for a while, so there is a bonus purpose to this thing.

In other, totally unrelated news, a chap in my office took a cricket ball in the nuts this weekend and today admitted to me that he’s not worn a box for the last four years. My response to that was not overly sympathetic. For those of you who cannot fathom what that must be like, the below video may give you some idea (by the way, if you get these posts emailed then I'm not sure the videos come through, so you'll have to visit the actual site by clicking on the title at the top). 

PS: I cannot bring myself to write about international sport right now. If the Rugby team losing to the All Blacks 3-0 in NZ was understandable and the World Cup debacle predictable, how the England Cricket team are currently performing leaves me grateful I'm not within reach of heavy artillery.