Sagawa Shiga v Sony Sendai, Sunday 30th September 2012, 1pm

There weren’t any J-league games going on anywhere close to Kyoto on the second day of our Chuseok trip. Nor were there any in the second tier J-2 League. The only option that I could find was a third division game between Sagawa Shiga and Sony Sendai in nearby Moriyama. That was good enough for me though.

Jen and I were staying at the Granvia Hotel in Kyoto Station and the concierge fella was an absolute star. All I’d wanted him to do was to write down the name of the stadium in Japanese but within ten minutes he had managed to look up the ground on the internet, print out a map and then tell us exactly how to get there. If I’d asked him nicely he could probably have got me a pair of boots and sorted out a place in Sagawa’s starting line-up.

It didn’t take us long to get there, which I suppose is one of the advantages of staying in a hotel within a railway station. A thirty minute train journey to Katata was followed by a ten minute ride in a taxi that looked like it had come straight out of the nineteen seventies.

Not the bullet train.

If anything we got there too quickly, arriving at the ground an hour and a half early for the 11am kick-off. Or what I’d understood to be an 11am kick-off. I didn’t give too much thought to the stadium being empty when we got there, I’ve seen enough third division games in Korea with virtually nobody inside ten minutes before the kick-off to worry about that.

After a few minutes a fella who had been putting up some advertising banners wandered over and told us that we’d have to leave. Fair enough, I thought, perhaps they need us to buy tickets rather than just stroll in and sit down. I asked him what time we could come back and he told us twelve o’clock. That struck me as an odd time for a game that would have started an hour earlier. Eventually we established that we’d turned up three and a half hours too soon for a game with a 1pm kick-off. I hope he was impressed with our enthusiasm.

What made our early arrival worse though was that a tropical storm was making its way across Japan and we were on the edges of it. The rain was falling steadily and the idea of standing around outside for three and a half hours wasn’t too enticing a prospect.

This hotel was next to the stadium. They have special rates for sixteen people sharing a room.

Fortunately the Sagawa Art Museum was just around the corner and we nipped inside for an hour of looking at the exhibits and a further two hours of drinking five quid coffees in their cafe. Japan is quite expensive. They had an exhibition by Churyo Sato who specialised in bronze sculptures of young women with their tits out.

Churyo Sato

As one o’clock rolled around Jen decided that another hour in the cafe was a better option than braving the wind and rain and I headed off to the game by myself. It was almost too blustery to use an umbrella as I hurried around to the stadium entrance. When I reached the gate a temporary ticket office tent had been set up and I handed over a thousand yen to get in.

The main and only stand.

There were about a hundred fans in total, most of whom were struggling to find a position within the stand where the rain wasn’t blowing in. At the far end of the only stand were the Sagawa ‘ultras’. There were five of them and it’s possible that they were all from the same family. I didn’t see or hear any away fans, perhaps they had decided to stay in the museum too.

Sagawa fans and their drum.

Sagawa Shiga were in blue with the visitors, Sony Sendai in white. It wasn’t really the weather for it, but both teams tried to play football and keep the ball on the ground. The home side went a goal up after five minutes and then doubled their lead after ten.

One of the goals. The first one, I think.

The rest of the half was fairly even and Sony Sendai were unlucky not to pull one back before the interval. They had a couple of ‘goals’ disallowed and missed a few half-chances.

Not the best day for a football game.

At half time I’d seen all that I needed to and made my way back to the museum as there’s a limit to how many five quid coffees you can expect someone else to drink by themselves. As I walked around the edge of the pitch the worsening conditions had meant that the ticketing tent had already been dismantled and the advertising hoardings were being removed before they blew away. Even the flags were being lowered.

The main stand with the Christmas hotel next to it.

I checked later to see whether or not the game had been abandoned and it had made it to full-time. Each side had managed a second –half goal with Sagawa Shiga running out three-one winners.

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2 Responses to “Sagawa Shiga v Sony Sendai, Sunday 30th September 2012, 1pm”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You’re right, I did get the better of the weather. Some of those ultras and that garish love hotel are very familiar. Shame you missed out on the Sendai man with a drum. Great blog, by the way – Asian football and hiking are two of my very favourite things.

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