Feb. 4, 2004
Day 1 -
We arrived in Tokyo at 5:00 pm their time. This doesn't sound crazy until you take into account that we left noon the day before. Now that is crazy. I have to say though that was the easiest 12-hour plane flight I've ever taken. Granted it's the only 12-hour flight, but it wasn't hard nonetheless. Some of our teammates were abroad for our fall ball season, so it was nice to finally talk to them after hearing so many great things about them. Twelve hours gives you a lot of time to get to know people, believe it or not. The airport was really cool. By cool I mean really clean, and the color scheme seemed to be green. I don't think I have seen so much green in my life. Aki, our guide met us here. Everyone seems really pumped, and let me tell you the attitude is contagious. The team seems really ready to learn and embrace this new culture.
Day 2 -
Today we explored Tokyo. Mickey, our guide first brought us to the Golden Pavilion or the Rokuon-ji Temple. This was absolutely spectacular. After going through this long pathway through wooded lands you reach this lake in which this beautiful temple rests. It is a wooden temple that was covered with gold leaves, and the water that surrounds it is so still that the temple appears even bigger and more magnificent. The Zen temple that was in the same area actually had a Zen garden in which you could actually rake the sand to relax yourself. It also contained the oldest bonsai tree (but it's not bonsai anymore because it's HUGE!).
Our next stop was the Nijo Castle. It was built in 1603 and was the place in which the shogun resided. We learned that the attendants to the shogun were only women (and his wife was in Tokyo...hmmm...) and his guards were always behind his walls and needed only to be summoned by his clapping. The floors of the castle were made to squeak like hummingbirds so that no one could ever sneak in.
Next we went to the Kyoto Jishu shrine. This was dubbed "The Cupid of Japan" First there are two stones that you have to walk from one to the other (safely) with your eyes closed in order to win your true love, while walking you have to think of his/her name. There is also a place there where you could pray right near these stones, and also a place where you could buy fortunes. If you didn't like your fortune you were supposed to tie it up and leave it there. In the same shrine there were three water falls: one you could drink for good health and beauty, another for love or marriage, and the last for wisdom. Last we went to the Heian Shrine. It was a bright orange Shinto shrine where we saw a wedding taking place. In the back of this shrine, it was as a large as a football field, you could throw money into a pit and make a wish or say a prayer.
Day 3 -
Today was a full day of playing because we were split into two teams. This really gave us a chance to prove to ourselves the actual tenacity that we have. It gives me goose-bumps to even try to explain how incredible it was playing at this field. First off, Mount Fuji was the backdrop of our playing field. We were lucky enough to have such a clear day to be able to see it in its entirety. Aki explained to us that it is very rare that one can see the top of this volcano.
Tonight there was a dinner at the hotel for all the teams. Michele made a speech and announced Kinsey and Nyerr's birthdays, so everyone sang to them. Every team then had a chance to go on stage and perform for their opponents. We decided to demonstrate the hokey pokey, which is now an international hit. Most of us were approached after the dinner by some of the teams that we played against that wanted to learn more about different moves that we had done.
Day 4 -
This morning we taught a clinic. I must say that I was a bit nervous going into the clinic, thinking that the language barrier was going to be very difficult to overcome. These players were so enthusiastic that it really didn't matter. Their awesome attitude was contagious, I could have taught them all day. After the clinic, we were asked to be in so many pictures, I felt like I was a celebrity. It was even more exciting afterwards when we played and recognized the girls we taught earlier.
Day 5 -
Playing today was really nice because our last game we got to play with the whole team against the tournament all-stars. These university players really challenged us with their speed and their heart. It really put our goals to the test. After the game we got and gave autographs which were so much fun. Following the closing ceremonies we got on our bus to Tokyo.
Day 6 -
For our free morning, some of us went to the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is the most famous sushi market in the world. I missed it, but I plan on going later. Ukiko took us around to look in a lot of stores. It was so cool to see all of these gadgets and mini cameras and such. I felt like I was in a James Bond movie. We also got to go to Tokyo Tower which looks just like the Eiffel Tower but it's orange. At night from the tower, Tokyo is absolutely breathtaking.
Day 7 -
Today we got to play the Japanese National B team. It was really exciting for me, because it was the first time I got to wear the Stanford "S". I have never seen the team so fired up. It was like we were one body and mind on the field it was really awesome.
After we played an all-star team, we then got to meet our hosts. My host's name is Nozomi. Her best friend and her boyfriend came over and Nozomi cooked for us. We had soup it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. After dinner I was asked to demonstrate a few different lacrosse skills. Luckily, Nozomi's boyfriend was fluent in English, so it made the teaching a little easier.
Day 8 -
Nozomi woke me up today so that we could go to the Championship game. This was really exciting. In between the men's game and the women's game there was a relay race, in which me and some of my teammates were running in. It was so much fun because a lot of the teams were dressed in costumes. After this we went shopping around with Kim, Michelle and their hosts, one of which was Nozomi's coach. Nozomi's team cooked an unbelievable traditional Japanese dinner for us. It was so much fun.
Day 9 -
I was awoken by Nozomi to go to practice. I was upset that I would have to leave her and her family. They were so incredibly nice to me. They gave me special New Year's fortunes, and traditional Japanese tea and snacks for my plane trip home. We exchanged email addresses and promised we would write to each other. I was so upset to leave after such a short time.
After practice, Michelle, Bryanne and I went exploring to a famous shopping area called Shibuya. We tried on a lot of clothes and in each store the women helping us couldn't believe how muscular we are.
Day 10 -
Today is the Emperor's birthday so we got to play at night. What an exciting game it was. Our team was fired up and ready to play the Japanese National team because we knew this is a step on the road to the National Championship. It was exciting to see some of our hosts watching us and cheering for us. Our team really came together and it was really inspiring and exciting to be a part of. Our team was invited to a farewell dinner after our game which was beautiful.
Day 11 -
This morning I woke up at 4:45 in the morning to get to the fish market. The Fish market is a crazy place, if you aren't watching carefully you are like to get run over by a fish-filled truck. After the fish market, we got a very friendly man to show us where a famous sumo school, but because of the holiday we took pictures with a few of the wrestlers outside.
Our team got really close throughout the trip and it was really nice to see us bond so well. We realized on this trip how special and how tenacious we, as a unit, really are. Everyone truly appreciates what everyone else brings to the table. This trip made me more proud to be a member of such a wonderful team.