Nov. 22, 2007
Tokyo, Japan - Stanford Women's Lacrosse is currently in Japan for a 9-day international tour. Here is Day 5 from their adventure in the rising sun:
Trying to capture the importance and impact of today's events through the written word is proving to be even more challenging than I had anticipated. Being an "off" day, void of competition, the team prepared to utilize every free moment. Morning wake-up calls at 7:15AM announced the beginning of our third full day. After conquering another [now] routine breakfast of eggs, fruit, miso soup and dumplings, we were dressed and off to the subway by 8:10AM.
Another beautiful, albeit brisk, day propelled us on our way providing spring to otherwise fatigued steps. Speed walking, stair climbing and subway hopping landed us at the doorstep of Fuji TV Headquarters. Equipped with pamphlets (informative in theory, but challenging for clueless Japanese beginners), special guest passes, a tour guide and our trusty interpreter we were off on a behind-the-scenes look at the biggest TV company in Japan. We experienced the urgency of last minute newscast preparation, took pictures on the set of popular Japanese programs, walked through the prop/set warehouse, and took pictures in the spherical observatory on the top level.
The tour was over and off we were again. A few more subways and a few blocks of walking saw us to the base of an extremely high Tokyo Tower. Glaringly similar in appearance and structure to France's Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower stands at a tall 333 meters and is the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower. After eating lunch at the tower's base, we were able to take elevators to the observatory tower at the top and observe an immense span of the city of Tokyo. The views, reaching as far as Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tsukuba, were overwhelming and shed a little light into the magnitude, power, and magic of the city.
The most special hour of our trip was just a short bus ride away from Tokyo Tower. Through the connections of a teammate's family, we were given the distinct honor of visiting and having tea at the home of Yoshiko Morita, widow of Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony. The impact of Akio's life touches an innumerable amount of people, not to mention his country of Japan, the world economy, and US-Japan relations. He accomplished an incredible amount of things in his life, catapulting Sony to the status of #1 brand name in America. Akio Morita has since passed away but his dynamic and brilliant wife Yoshiko continues to touch lives. Described by some teammates as a "fire-cracker" and "remarkable" woman, Yoshiko welcomed us with open arms into her beautiful home. While impeccably decorated and designed, Yoshiko has succeeded in finding the perfect balance between sophistication, class, and coziness. With an eye for art and a knack for social dance, Yoshiko exudes intelligence and kindness. The serenity of her back courtyard and the immense collection of art, pictures, and awards kept each one of us entranced. This once in a lifetime opportunity was not taken for granted and will be remembered by all as one of the most extraordinary hours of our lives.
An eventful day was far from over. Next bus stop was to the Honda Motor Company Headquarters to observe and meet the newest innovation in humanistic robot technology. Standing at 4 feet and 3 inches, ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), we watched ASIMO talk, walk, run, gesture with his hands and explain the very technology that makes the unimaginable come alive. Described as "surreal" and "beyond comprehension", the ASIMO tutorial was fascinating, motivating and entertaining.
Stanford Lacrosse rounded out the day with the privilege and thrill of witnessing the Japanese National men's soccer team defeat Saudi Arabia to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. We joined the thousands of adoring fans sporting jerseys of favored players and cheering for 90 minutes straight. Although our cardinal warm-up suits sharply contrasted with the sea of blue, our spirit more than compensated. Far beyond the stadium gates, echoes of cheers ensued. The trip back on the subway did its usual magic of lulling our team to sleep or at least reducing the energy level tenfold.
At what seems like the climax of this trip, it's hard to imagine a better day than today. Yet with half the trip still to come, my intuition tells me there are many more adventures ahead.