Category Archives: Rugby World Cup 2019

BOKS BOUND TO GLORY

Before the main event today, New Zealand cruised past Wales in Tokyo to claim third place and the bronze medal. After that, all eyes were on Yokohama for the grand finale.

As an England supporter, you could look at the things that went wrong: the team bus arriving late, Sinckler getting knocked out straight after kick off, a very forward looking pass in the build-up to the first South African try.

But to be honest, that would not do the Springboks performance justice. They were monstrous in defence, particularly towards the end of the first half, when England could only register three points after an all-out assault on the try line.

Those three points were immediately cancelled out and more as South Africa registered two unanswered penalties to take a six point lead into the interval, putting them firmly in the driving seat.

They never really let England get into a groove in the second half and in the latter stages, South Africa expertly picked England off as they were forced into running the ball in search of a try.

The writing had already been on the wall at half-time, and although England threatened to get back into the match on occasion, they didn’t really deserve to.

So well done South Africa. You were worthy winners.

Last but not least, well done Japan. The tournament has been a great success, and hopefully will leave a legacy that propels the national team forward into even greater achievements in the future. Next up the Olympics!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blog. There’ll be a lot more travel stuff coming soon so please keep checking back or alternatively give the Twitter or Facebook page a follow/like for updates on what’s new.

I’m off to climb a very high mountain in Nagano in a few hours, so this is me signing out from the Rugby World Cup 2019. It’s been emotional.

Bronze Final
Friday New Zealand 40-17 Wales (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Final
Saturday South Africa 32-12 England (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
以上です。(ijou desu)
Which means…
(That’s it.)

Previous Day


THE OTHER WORLD CUP

As the Rugby World Cup reaches its climax, a rather different kind of World Cup begins today in Shizuoka, as the plethora of Halloween costumes on display last night are replaced by circus outfits and clown suits.

The Daidogei (Great Street Performance) World Cup is the showpiece festival of the city and the premier event of its kind in Asia, attracting 1.5 million visitors annually.

Although over 100 acts from all over the world will be performing in central Shizuoka for the next four days, an elite 14 will be aiming to take home the 2,000,000 yen (20,000 dollars) of prize money on offer for the winning performance.

The jury is composed of 25 Shizuoka citizens who have to decide precisely how much of 1,000 yen they would throw into the bucket of each act, with the winner being the one that collects the most.

I wonder how much the New Zealand team would collect for a performance of their haka if they were to take part. The battle dance will be performed for the last time this World Cup in Tokyo today, just before their clash with Wales for the bronze medal. It will also be the last match in charge for both head coaches, with Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland both stepping down after many successful years in charge of their sides.

I’m predicting that New Zealand will bounce back from their semi-final disappointment to claim victory against the Welsh, who will probably be more frustrated with the narrowness of their defeat to South Africa than New Zealand are about their loss to England. History supports that prediction as well, as the All Blacks have not lost to Wales since 1953 and Wales haven’t got within 15 points in the last 10 years.

After their historic performance last week, few will be betting against England claiming their second World Cup title on Saturday. Remarkably, they have not faced any European sides in their march to the final, with the US the only side from the Northern Hemisphere they have played. In fact, their last four matches will have been all against Rugby Championship sides. Argentina, Australia and New Zealand have all been successfully dealt with. Now only this year’s champions, South Africa, remain.

The Springboks have outmuscled their opponents with power and aggression thus far, but England will be ready for that. If the South Africans are to win, they will need to cut out the handling errors and be clinical if/when a chance falls their way.

South Africa have the better head-to-head record historically, but England have won the last two matches, winning by a single point in their last meeting nearly exactly one year ago at Twickenham. It’s likely to be another tight one tomorrow and if one side gets a significant lead early on, it will be extremely hard for the other to come back.

I’m backing England. Game on!

Bronze Final
Friday (1800 JST) New Zealand vs Wales (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Final
Saturday (1800 JST) England vs South Africa (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
大道芸へ行ったことありますか? (daidougei he itta koto arimasu ka)
Which means…
(Have you been to Daidogei?)

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TAKEDOWN AND THRILLER

Halloween starts in Japan pretty early. As soon as you flip the calendar over to October, pumpkin flavoured drinks and cakes start popping up. Orange decorations adorn most shops and the weekend before Halloween itself means costumes and photo calls with random people you’ll never meet again on the streets.

Costumes don’t have to be scary. Wallys/Waldos of Where’s Wally/Waldo? fame, Marios and Luigis and Sailor Moon cosplayers are always out in force. For kids, Disney princesses and Minions are perhaps the biggest hits. Tokyo and the surrounding cities have megaevents and parades for children and adults alike.

Leaving Halloween aside, the All Blacks will be having nightmares about their semi-final loss to England for a long time to come. I have seen New Zealand take England apart on numerous occasions in the past, but this was the first time I’ve seen England do it to New Zealand. It was a repeat of the All Blacks win over Ireland, only this time they were on the receiving end.

England’s back row were rampant and the tone was set from the very beginning with England bundling over for an early Tuilagi try. New Zealand couldn’t even get on the board in the first half, the first time this had happened since the 1991 World Cup. They wouldn’t have in the second half either if not for the misthrown line-out that gifted them their only score. England’s defensive performance was simply breathtaking.

The second semi-final was more breathless than breathtaking, as South Africa and Wales traded punch for punch. The scores were still level with just a few minutes to play as Wales answered every score that South Africa made with their own: first one penalty, then two penalties, then a converted try.

In the passage of play around 60 minutes that eventually resulted in the Welsh try, you could almost feel every tackle the Springboks were putting in as the Welshmen lined up in seemingly endless waves to be the next one carrying the ball into the try line melee.

After an ambitious late Welsh drop kick attempt had fallen short, South Africa got the penalty they needed and man-of-the-match Handre Pollard made it a perfect 5/5 with a kick that was never in doubt. South Africa were through to meet England in the final, a repeat of 2007.

There has been a little of an after the Lord Mayor’s show feeling about the World Cup here after Japan’s loss last weekend, but that was almost inevitable. On the other hand, some of my students wrote in their weekly essays about how impressed they had been watching rugby for the first time. Memories have been made at this tournament that will last long after next weekend’s grand finale.

Semi-Finals
Saturday England 19-7 New Zealand (International Stadium, Yokohama)
Sunday South Africa 19-16 (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Bronze Final
Friday (1800 JST) New Zealand vs Wales (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Final
Saturday (1800 JST) England vs South Africa (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
恐ろしい! (osoroshii)
Which means…
(Scary!)

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FINAL FOUR

The action moves to the largest stadium in the land this weekend, where the final will also take place. The massive 75,000 capacity International Stadium in Yokohama opened in 1998, and the most notable match it has hosted thus far was the biggest of them all, the 2002 football World Cup Final. Brazil and Germany were the teams competing back then, but their rugby teams are unlikely to be making a final any time soon.

Yokohama is a famous port city lying on Tokyo Bay right next to the capital and is the second largest in Japan in its own right. If you’ve got some time to kill between matches, you can visit the impressive Hikawa Maru liner that was constructed in 1930 and is now moored permanently in Yamashita Park.

If museums are more your thing, there’s the Cup Noodles Museum, where you can make your very own flavour to take home. Or if you’re looking to fill your belly, Yokohama’s famous Chinatown will do the trick. Steamed buns are what most people go for here, but there are naturally many more options on offer.

The Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum is also well worth a look. Located near the bullet train station, you head down some stairs to find yourself in a recreation of 1950s Tokyo, complete with fake sky. As well as learning the history of ramen, all the classic ramen types are available for purchase here in recreated shops.

So what about the matches this weekend?

On Saturday, England take on New Zealand in what could be the game of the tournament. New Zealand are miles ahead 33-7 in the head-to-head record, but three of the last four matches have ended in extremely narrow New Zealand victories, two by a single point and one by three.

The All Blacks were at their polished best against Ireland, so I predict a narrow win for them. I’ll be cheering for the opposite result, though, and I definitely think the England team has it within them to defeat New Zealand, especially if the holders are even a touch off their A game.

The Sunday match sees South Africa face Wales. Wales picked up only one win in the first twenty-nine meetings of the sides, but have won five of the last six, including the last four. The one match they lost, however, was the big one, a World Cup quarter final in 2015.

In the quarter finals this year, South Africa extinguished the Japanese challenge with minimal fuss, despite some wayward finishing. Wales, on the other hand, nicked their game at the death, as the 14 men of France tired. Although a Wales win is very much possible, I’m going for South Africa on form.

So my prediction for the final is New Zealand vs South Africa. I’m hoping it’s England vs Wales though.

Semi-Finals
Saturday (1700 JST) England vs New Zealand (International Stadium, Yokohama)
Sunday (1800 JST) Wales vs South Africa (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
ごちそうさまでした! (gochisousama deshita)
Which means…
(It was a delicious meal!) (To be used when leaving a restaurant)

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HANAZAWA HIKE

In the end, I managed to predict all the correct winners of the quarter finals, but not how large the margin of victories would be. Three of the four games were over long before the final whistle and, as Murphy’s law dictates, the only one I missed watching live was the one that ended up going down to the wire.

The England Australia game was close going into half-time and in the early part of the second half, but when England finally moved through the gears and Australia started to tire, there was only one winner. England went three then four scores clear, running up a joint record margin of victory over their old foes.

Ireland never really got going against New Zealand, who put in an excellent performance that never let the Irish have so much of a sniff of getting into the match. Most people will be tipping the winner of their semi-final with England to go on to win the tournament. They are the only two sides to have come through every game they’ve played as comfortable winners.

Mirroring the 2011 semi-final when a red card for Wales turned the tide in France’s favour, this time it was a French player who got his marching orders and turned the tie in favour of Wales. Man of the match Aaron Wainwright said afterwards that forward Sebastien Vahaamahina’s brutal and senseless elbow to his face “wasn’t that nice” in what was perhaps the understatement of the year. Both Vahaamahina and his teammates will be feeling the sting of that red card long after Wainwright’s face has healed.

Like the New Zealand game, South Africa vs. Japan turned out to be a damp squib. The main reason it was still as close as it was at half-time was due to the Springboks’ failure to finish off good positions. A highly questionable decision to disallow what seemed a perfectly good try just before the interval also helped. Any pretence of parity was swept aside in the second half, however. South Africa were all over Japan’s lineout and their forwards were much too much for the Brave Blossoms to handle. The final score of 26-3 was an accurate reflection of how the match played out.

This should not take anything away from what has been an excellent tournament for Japan. Their wins against Ireland and Scotland were totally deserved and hopefully either the Six Nations or the Rugby Championship will be able to find room for them. Geography is the only major stumbling point.

The reason I didn’t see the Wales France game live was because of a mountain hike that went on longer than anticipated. Hiking up to the top of Mount Hanazawa (Mount Flowerdale) was a rather more complicated matter than expected after the typhoon last week and involved climbing over a lot of fallen trees and slip-sliding down loose earth on the way back down.

With so much dramatic weather in Japan, paths and roads that appear to be usable on map applications are often not, so you should always be prepared to turn back at any point when hiking.

Mount Hanazawa was very muddy and afforded very few views of anything due to the closeness of the forest. The top was just a ring of trees and some picnic benches to have a snack on. Walking down the other side, however, Hanazawa no Sato (Flowerdale Village) was much nicer, with many buildings dating back to the Edo period when the Tokkaido was in use.

From there it was onwards to the Yaizu Sapporo brewery and over the Seto River, which was as high as I had ever seen it. The decision not to go onto the Ecopa stadium to see Japan South Africa on a massive screen (we were covered in mud from the hike) turned out to be a good one in the end, as Japan never really threatened to produce a third upset in a row. A nice bottle of wine and some cheese was opted for instead and it was precisely what the doctor ordered.

Quarter Final Results
England 40-16 Australia
New Zealand 46-14 Ireland
Wales 20-19 France
South Africa 26-3 Japan

Semi-Finals
Saturday (1700 JST) England vs New Zealand (International Stadium, Yokohama)
Sunday (1800 JST) Wales vs South Africa (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
一方的な試合でした。 (ippouteki na shiai deshita)
Which means…
(It was a one-sided match.)

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BRIGHTON AND BLANKETS

It’s got a little cooler in Japan now, so humidity and heat will no longer be a factor in the rugby. When the temperatures drop here, there’s nothing like a trip to the onsen, but there’s also nothing like enjoying a kotatsu (a heated table with blanket). It heats up the room and keeps you snug while eating your dinner or catching your favourite show. The only problem is trying to escape it before you fall asleep.

As far as the rugby goes it’s business time. No more minnows. No more dead rubbers. No more one-sided victories (probably). Just good old-fashioned knockout rugby. Anybody can beat anybody. So what are my predictions?

England face Australia in the first game on Saturday. Although Australia edge the historical head-to-head 25-24, England have come out on top in the last six encounters and ten of the last twelve. They’ve met each other in the World Cup final twice, Australia denying England in their own backyard in 1991 before England returned the favour in 2003. I predict an England win this time round, although they may be a little undercooked after three matches in which they were barely challenged. Australia will be more battle-hardened after a tough defeat to Wales. Georgia kept them honest until the closing stages too.

In the late game, the Irish take on the All Blacks in another mouth-watering tie. Ireland finally managed to register a victory in this fixture at the twenty-ninth attempt in Chicago in 2016. They then repeated the feat two years later, this time in Dublin. Ireland also got off to a great start this tournament by thrashing Scotland, but came unstuck immediately after against the hosts. The All Blacks beat the Springboks in their opening fixture before strolling past Namibia and Canada. I’m going for a New Zealand victory based on their performance against South Africa and the fact they’ve taken the last two tournaments, but the Irish can certainly not be ruled out of causing an upset.

On Sunday, the unpredictable French take on Wales. Wales lead the historic head-to-head 50-44 and have taken seven of the last eight meetings. Whilst France snuck past both Argentina and Tonga in the group stages and could easily have lost either match, Wales won all four of theirs, one of which was an impressive performance against Australia. It’s got to be a Wales win for me, but having said that the French have often found a rich vein of form late on in World Cups in the past. The team it is normally at the expense of is New Zealand though, not Wales.

The final quarter has the hosts taking on South Africa. I honestly believe that if they play the faultless, flowing rugby that they did against Scotland, Japan can get the win again. The head to head is one apiece. Japan performed the “Brighton Miracle” at the last World Cup, but were beaten heavily 41-7 in a warm-up match for this tournament. That recent result is why I’m going for the Springboks to win. It’s very much a case of the head saying South Africa, but the heart saying Japan.

So my semi-final predictions are:

England vs New Zealand
Wales vs South Africa

In a difficult to comprehend move, the Shizuoka fan zone has been closed down for good, so there will be nowhere to watch the quarter finals from in a large group in the city. There will be a fan zone in Hamamatsu and the Ecopa stadium will be open for all of the knockout phase (free entrance), but the capacity will be limited to 5,000, which means there’s a risk of going there only to be turned away at the door. I may try to get in on Sunday.

Saturday Quarter Finals
England vs Australia (1615 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)
New Zealand vs Ireland (1915 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Sunday Quarter Finals
Wales vs France (1615 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)
Japan vs South Africa (1915 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)

Expression of the day
ブライトンミラクルが再現するのか? (buraiton mirakuru ga saigen suru no ka)
Which means…
(Will the Brighton Miracle repeat itself?)

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VICTORY ROAD

It’s hard to put into words just how amazing that performance was from Japan, but considering the way they played against Ireland and their ranking one place above Scotland prior to kick-off, it would be an injustice to call it an upset. Japan look to be entirely at home battling it out with the top tier of nations. Perhaps the southern hemisphere championship will have to expand to five teams next year to admit a most worthy member from the north. The Brave Blossoms definitely belong at the top table.

Last night was dazzling. Japan answered all questions asked of them with an assurance belying their pre-tournament underdog status. A combination of electric pace from Matsushima and Fukuoka, ferocious tackling and defence spearheaded by a rampant Leitch, an almost nonchalant calm under pressure by replacement scrum-half Tanaka, and immaculate ball-handling and offloads from the whole team throughout saw the Japanese through to the quarter-finals at the top of Group A. Absolutely nobody is questioning their right to be there now.

Scotland played extremely well themselves. They flew out of the blocks, scoring an early Russell try to put the match at a virtual 0-0 within the first ten minutes. The Japanese did not flinch. Instead, a lightning strike down the wing culminating in a diving pass from Fukuoka to release Matsushima brought them level.

The next try was a thing of beauty, made and finished by the forwards, breaking out of tackles, sidestepping and last-gasp offloading until Inagaki got over right between the posts

The third was a hammer blow for Scotland just before half-time as a kick through the line ended up in Fukuoka’s hands. Nobody was catching him. The second half started with another try, Fukuoka this time expertly ripping the ball from Scotland and catching it before turning on the afterburners to soar through the defence and under the posts.

Scotland could have been forgiven for capitulating in the face of such an onslaught, but instead they roared back. Japan couldn’t keep back the incessant waves of forward pressure, which Nel was the eventual beneficiary of on forty-nine minutes.

Five minutes later, Japan were breached again as Fagerson crossed the line to put the Scottish to within a converted try with another 25 minutes left on the clock. The home fans held their breath.

But that was the last score. Scotland pushed hard, but the Japanese wouldn’t let them through. After gaining the ball just in front of their own try line with a couple of minutes left on the clock, Japan opted to ruck their way to the win rather than kick and hand back the ball.

Scrum-half Tanaka was completely unperturbed by the Scots flying into him as he moved from one battleground to the next to dish the ball out to the next forward offering themselves up for punishment.

Finally, the crowd were counting down to the buzzer and the ball was kicked into touch. Japan were group winners with an amazing 19 points from a possible 20. Celebration time and a rendition of their new tournament song “Victory Road”, based on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Watch it here.

Here’s an approximate translation with a little artistic licence taken to make it flow better:

If you walk
Down Victory Road
All the way
To the end
Happy days will
Surely follow
If you walk
Down Victory Road

Earlier in the day Tonga defeated the US to take fourth place in Group C, before Wales finally managed to shrug off a limpet-like Uruguay at the death to top Group D.

All of that means I got my quarter-final predictions correct.

As a side note, the BBC reporting has been pretty inaccurate on the public response to the tournament in Japan. It said that Japan did not need these strong performances to get the nation into the tournament. That is not true. It absolutely did need these performances. Rugby is still very much a minority sport here and the rules and points system are regularly shown on broadcasts to educate first time viewers.

Week on week, the number of people attending at the fan zones has shot up. In Shizuoka, it was too full to let people in one hour before kick-off last night; the previous three weeks it was able to contain everybody. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Japanese people saying in shock/surprise “Rugby’s great, isn’t it.” The Japanese performance in the World Cup is absolutely vital to establishing a continuing legacy, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

As there are only matches on weekends from now on, the blog will be taking mid-week breaks. Thank you for reading and stay tuned!

Yesterday’s Matches
USA 31-19 Tonga (Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
Wales 35-13 Uruguay (Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto)
Japan 28-21 Scotland (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Quarter-Finals

Saturday
England vs Australia (1615 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)
New Zealand vs Ireland (1915 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)
Sunday
Wales vs France (1615 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)
Japan vs South Africa (1915 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)

Expression of the day
ビクトリーロード (bikutori ro-do)
この道 (kono michi)
ずっと (zutto)
ゆけば (yukeba)
最後は (saigo wa)
笑える日が (waraeru hi ga)
くるのさ (kuru no sa)
ビクトリーロード (bikutori ro-do)
Which means…
(The Victory Road Song in Japanese)

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BONUS BATTLE

The strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 60 years came and went yesterday, leaving destruction in its wake. After making landfall on the Izu peninsula, it moved up the main island before entering the sea again in Tohoku.

Flooding and landslides occurred in many places due to the intense rainfall, which caused rivers to burst their banks. Five people have already been confirmed to have lost their lives. The reason it is not many more is down to Japan’s familiarity with natural disasters and the measures they have taken to mitigate their impact.

One more rugby match has been cancelled. The Kumagaya stadium is located in a mountainous area, where landslides are still a real danger. For fan and player safety, that means the Namibians’ and Canadians’ World Cup has come to an early end, denying them both the chance of claiming a first tournament victory.

The other three matches scheduled for today will go ahead as planned.

In the first, the US will take on Tonga in Osaka with only pride on the line as they both seek their first win. After that, Wales require a victory over Uruguay in Kumamoto to top their group and seal a quarter-final against France rather than England.

Then it is the grand finale, the match that the group stage has been building towards. There is already a healthy dose of controversy surrounding it due to the Japan vs Samoa referee’s inexplicable decision to penalise Samoa for not feeding into the scrum straight, a practice which has gone unpunished for years.

This allowed Japan to take the bonus point that makes Scotland’s challenge today that much harder. Instead of merely requiring a win to finish ahead of Japan, they now need to ensure that they win by more than seven points or score four tries whilst stopping Japan doing the same.

Above all, I am hoping that the referee’s shocking call in the Samoa game is not the deciding factor.

There was a game yesterday on the island of Kyushu, far enough distant to be unaffected by the typhoon. Ireland made light of an early red card to cruise past Samoa and set up the scenario that will play out in Yokohama this evening.

Yesterday’s Match
Ireland 47-5 Samoa (Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka)

Today’s Matches
USA vs Tonga (1445 JST) (Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
Wales vs Uruguay (1715 JST) (Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto)
Japan vs Scotland (1945 JST) (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
無事です ! (buji desu)
Which means…
(We’re safe.)

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STORMY SATURDAY

The massive Typhoon Hagibis is currently making its way directly for Shizuoka and is expected to make landfall in the next few hours. It seems like it’s been here for ages already, though, as the wind has been howling and it’s been tipping it down since last night.

The central supermarket had rows upon rows of empty shelves yesterday, as people stockpiling (including myself) cleaned it out of goods. I had to go to four different places before I could find any water on sale.

There are fears of power outages and cuts to the water supply, so the bath is full just in case and plenty of rice is cooked and ready to go.

Evacuation advisories have also been issued, so our bags are ready if we are ordered to move to a local school, where people assemble to wait out natural disasters. The elderly and young children have already been moved there.

Luckily for us, our area is fairly elevated and we live on the third floor, so the risk of flooding is low. However, there is a large hill relatively nearby, so landslides cannot be ruled out.

Spending the day with the heavy shutters down makes you think it’s still night and is pretty depressing. We’ve opened the windows a few times to let some air in and to get some natural light, but it’s not really enough. I can’t imagine how people living in the far north cope.

Meanwhile, the nation holds its breath as to what will happen when the typhoon actually hits. Rivers are close to bursting as it is, and homes and roads have already been flooded and roofs blown off.

It seems pointless to talk about rugby at this time, but a game will be going on in Fukuoka later on and tomorrow the group stage will come to an end.

Hopefully the damage from the typhoon won’t be too bad and Japan can quickly move forward, as it has done so many times before.

Today’s Match
Ireland vs Samoa (1945 JST) (Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Namibia vs Canada (1215 JST) (Kamaishi Memorial Recovery Stadium, Kamaishi)
USA vs Tonga (1445 JST) (Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
Wales vs Uruguay (1715 JST) (Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto)
Japan vs Scotland (1945 JST) (International Stadium, Yokohama)

Expression of the day
気を付けて下さい! (ki wo tsukete kudasai)
Which means…
(Take care.)

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SMASHING STEREOTYPES

It’s a myth that Japanese trains always run on time. They are, for the most part, extremely punctual, but to say that delays don’t happen is complete nonsense.

However, stories of rail companies apologising for their train departing two seconds late or one second early are exactly the kind of fodder that international newspapers lap up and, in doing so, they perpetuate the same tired stereotypes about Japan.

It’s not just newspapers that are guilty of perpetuating Asian stereotypes. The second episode of the first series of the most recent BBC Sherlock series threw in a load of East Asian things with little regard for accuracy or provenance alongside some patronising pidgin English. It was barely watchable Orientalism.

Imagine a Japanese TV show dressing a purportedly Italian guy in lederhosen with a string of garlic round his neck and a beefeater hat and you can begin to understand. And don’t get me started on “Lost in Translation”. It was more like “Lost in Casual Racism”.

I was caught out as well. Dancing was never banned in public places in Japan, as was suggested in a previous diary entry. However, many international press articles were written saying that it was and I foolishly went along with what they reported. I should have known better.

Western media’s determination to make Japan seem different and unusual so often gets in the way of any regard for the truth.

I don’t think visiting helps that much either unfortunately. With a huge language barrier and the forces of ‘omotenashi’ (hospitality) and ‘tatemae’ (masking your true feelings) in play, it’s pretty much impossible for a foreigner to pick up much on a flying visit beyond the fact that it’s “really clean” and the Japanese are “really friendly”.

Anyway, enough on the stereotypes. There was some rugby today. Georgia put up a valiant fight against the Wallabies, keeping within a converted try until just before the hour mark. They even managed to score a try themselves, going down 27-8 to end the tournament in proud fashion.

There will be one game tomorrow as Ireland, looking to secure qualification, face Samoa. The Italians, meanwhile, will continue to seethe about the fact they’ve been knocked out by weather. I can definitely sympathise with them. Firstly, there should have been a contingency plan in place for typhoons. Secondly, I’m sure contingency plans would have miraculously emerged if the boot had been on the other foot and it was the All Blacks facing elimination.

Such is the fate of smaller rugby nations.

Today’s Match
Australia 27-8 Georgia (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)

Tomorrow’s Match
Ireland vs Samoa (1945 JST) (Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka)

Expression of the day
不公平です! (fukouhei desu)
Which means…
(It’s unfair.)

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