In what will almost certainly be my final “holiday within a holiday” from Japan, I today booked flights to head up to the grim north of Hokkaido in February for the Sapporo Snow Festival. This massive celebration of snow and ice runs for a week, and as well as seeing bits of it in Sapporo, me and pal Pete plan to drive up to the north coast of Hokkaido to take a trip out in an ice-breaker ship, as well as visiting his home somewhere in the middle of, well, nowhere (sorry Pete). All sounds fantabulous, and it means that while my Christmas will once again be spent on a beach, my february will be spent in a place that is as snow filled as can be. Hurrah for snow!
Hey! Hey! Hey!
Ho, ho, ho.
Yes its Christmas once again, and I’m off on my holidays to sunnier inclines.
Merry Christmas Everyone! And a Happy New Year.
Ok, this blog can rise beyond a title containing the quasi-word “luminarie-tastic” and the description of the Kobe Luminarie as “really, really shiny”. But maybe not by that much.
Tonight sees Champions of Europe, AC Milan take on Champions of Asia, the Urawa Reds in the semi-finals of the World Club Championships. Its a big deal in Japan, if not in England or much of the rest of the world. Anyway to mark the occasion, and to further promote “internationalisation”, I suggested a sweepstake for the game on the lips of everyone in the teachers lounge today. Five of us picked scores (all involving Milan winning coincidentally), and agreed a bet of 1000 yen each (around 4/5 quid). It was also inexplicably decided that should the Reds win, Kawasaki T would get all our money despite not betting. Hmmm. The match kicks off in just over an hour, and there will be live updates on this blog every 15 minutes or so…stay tuned!
The key winners to watch out for are Kawahara at 3-1, me at 2-0, Nishi T at 4-0 and the sports teacher who I still don’t know the name of at 2-1. Someone else also bet but I can’t remember their score.
I’ve placed two bets on bet365.com- Milan to win 3-1 (10/1) so I win big even if Kawahara does, and ace Kaka to score a cracker! 🙂 at 5/1 as first scorer.
Fifteen minutes to go and lets run through the key men-
The newly-crowned Ballon d’Or winner should have too much for the Reds to handle. The brilliant Brazlian can scores crackers from distance, and was mobbed by adoring fans on arriving at Tokyo airport.
Marcos Tulio Tanaka (Urawa)
The Brazilian-born defender is a giant at the back, good on the ball and great in the air. Watch out for him from set pieces.
And the teams are in the tunnel! Kaka looks stern….will we get national anthems?
Sadly not. The beer is well chilled, the sashimi soy-sauced, and the gyoza plated. Milan are in white and the Reds are in, well, red. Game on!
Yellow card!! Nesta. Well deserved. Urawa are getting stuck in, but no clear chances so far.
Excellant free kick by Pirlo is tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner, Milan have a great chance but the header goes just over. Urawa have been bright but just lack a bit of quality in the final third…
Two great chances in succession! Seedorf should have done better one-on-one with the keeper. It’s all Milan at the moment…
End to end stuff!! Milan have a great chance to go ahead but some last ditch defending saves the day. Then Urawa go down the other end only for some poor passing to let them down. Urawa #17 , Makoto Hasebe has now been stretchered off, but it doesn’t look serious…
Toot toot! as Pete Doherty would say. Yes, the first half is over. Milan have huffed, they’ve puffed, but so far they’ve failed to blow Urawa’s house down. A committed performance from the Japanese, but you can’t see past Milan eventually getting the goal they deserve.
Yoshyaa! And we’re off once more
How did they not score!! First Jankulovski, then the follow up by Gilardino. Then another break and a fantastic one on one save from the Urawa keeper Tsuzuki!
Milan Sub! Gilardino off, Pippo Inzaghi on! Is the old maestro gonna make the difference?
Its all happening now! Best chance of the game for Urawa, with an excellent save from that part-time actor Dida.
GOAL!!!!! AC MILAN SCORE!!! Ball in from the left, and Seedorf- virtually unmarked- with the strong strike into the bottom right corner of the net. 1-0 to MILAN!
Well, can the Reds get back into the game? I highly doubt it, and if Milan can add another then 5000 yen is mine, all mine…mwah ha ha ha!
Milan sub! Jankulovski off, and the even older maestro is on- Paulo Maldini! Urawa also make a sub- Soma for Hirakawa.
And to think if I worked for the Guardian I’d actually get paid to do this. As it is my readership is somewhat smaller, but at least I don’t have to come up with entertaining jokes. Milan have a free kick just outside the area.
Three mins of stoppage time.
Toot toot!! And it’s finished 1-0 to AC Milan. I was within a very get-able goal of winning 25 quid from my fellow sensei, but as it is no money will be given or received. Milan’s quality was enough to see them through in a match that could have had far more goals than it did. Urawa were committed, but apart from one good chance didn’t really test Kaka.
Last weekend I went to Kobe and saw the magical Christmas Luminarie. It was really really shiny!
I also went to the spiritual (and indeed physical) home of the Hanshin Tigers, Koshien!! Sadly it was closed for reconstruction but I still got to pose outside and throw a baseball around, which is always fun.
Finally I also made it to the Akashi Ohashi, the world’s longest suspension bridge which I’ve passed many times on my way to or back from Kobe/Osaka, but never seen up close. More excitingly I’ve just learnt from Wikipedia that in 1998 it claimed its title from Hull’s Humber Bridge (which has now sank to number 4) – et tu Timmy-chan!
Passing the Akashi Ohashi on the train back from Osaka a few weeks ago
Up close at the Hashi.
Yes, I am now 24, and thanks for your many birthday cards, messages and (in the case of Kawahara sensei), novelty lighters not appropriate for those under 18. My birthday itself was actually fairly painful, as I spent most of it labouring under a cloud of alcohol-induced confusion. This was confounded by having interview tests (“how are you aimu faiin sankyu ando yu”) all day, which did my head in. Nonetheless, the preceding nights celebrations were, as we say in Japan, saiko!, involving the normal but always excellant activities of nomihodie and karaoke, and cake! This weekend I’m off to Kobe for some fun and games, and the weekend after I have another enkai. Then its happy happy holidays!