Nov. 22, 2007
Tokyo, Japan - Stanford Women's Lacrosse is currently in Japan for a 9-day international tour. Here is Day 4 from their adventure in the rising sun:
Today we awoke to an 8:15 wake up call and headed down to a breakfast buffet that included a full array of both Western and Japanese foods. Following breakfast we changed into athletic gear to prepare for a walk through/stretch out in the "park" right down the street from our hotel. We soon found that the park compromised of a few trees planted into a patio of cement but did ultimately provide enough space for us to get in a dynamic warm-up and run through some basic plays.
It felt great to get our legs moving after a lot of time sitting on the plane, and the multiple train and bus trips taken during the past two days! The rest of the morning we had free time to explore Tokyo. Our hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the Ikebukuro subway stop and we have found that no matter what time of day we take the subway--7 am, noon or 10:30 pm--it always seems to be packed; the population density in this city is simply amazing.
Despite the crowds, when we are all in our matching bright red Stanford gear it is pretty easy to spot our group among our other fellow primarily dark business-suited passengers. Most of us took the subway line to Harajuku St. that proved to a lively, trendy district filled with both funky and boutique shops. We also spotted a lot of familiar American name brand stores and have in general been surprised by the amount of English mixed in with Japanese signs and advertisements. We have also been surprised by the cleanliness of the entire city and public spaces--especially given the fact it is almost impossible to find a trash can! Even the public toilets are equipped with seat cleaners (and also include a plethora of other buttons with seat warming capabilities, adjustable strength bidet spraying and musical noises to cover up "bathroom sounds!".
We returned to the hotel mid-afternoon for a pre-game meal consisting of sandwiches before heading back out along the now familiar route to our local subway stop to get to the Amino Vital stadium for our first game. It was a bit of a trek as we switched lines three times and all completely overheated (in part to the overcrowded subway cars as well as the fact we were all bundled up in layers as we knew it would be cold at the game). Arriving at field with two hours till the 7pm game time, we spent some time throwing around and getting used to the bright lighting on the field.
Both the American and Japanese anthems were played prior to the game and then took part in the customary gift exchange with our opponents, the Seitoku All Stars. The game proved to be quick paced and with lots of chances to work on our stick skills and ground balls-both of which we have been focusing on this fall. Ultimately we won 11-6 and were thankful for the opportunity to play exciting competition. The train rides back didn't seem nearly as long but we were all eager to get back, warm up and get some food. For dinner, we set off in small groups to find dinner in nearby spots--some groups found quaint, traditional Japanese restaurants, attempting to decipher menus full of characters while others picked places that promised a menu with easy to point at pictures. Thus concluded another action packed, exiting day and we all look forward to the rest of the week to continue exploring Tokyo and getting a taste of Japanese culture.