The post is a little late today as yesterday night turned into a very late one.

I don’t think Shizuoka was really ready for the Irish invasion that hit it as the visiting supporters put the result behind them and focused on enjoying themselves.

The only Irish pub in the city, Shamrock, was overrun. The manager was on his own and could barely pour the Guinness quickly enough, although I imagine the takings will more than compensate for a very busy night’s work.

The crowd was quite interesting. Apart from the many Irish, there was also a New Zealander teaching everybody the haka and a bunch of Japanese fans, one of whom was attending 23 matches this World Cup. An impressive effort, but it must be costing him a penny or two.

He’d also seen the shocking Gavin Hastings penalty miss for Scotland against England in 1991 live, which is one of my first rugby memories.

Unfortunately he worked for Softbank, the worst company I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. If you’re thinking of signing a contract with them, don’t.

The Japanese fans said they were supporting England as their second team and that they thought they would win the whole thing.

As for the Brave Blossoms, they said they’d be content with a quarter final spot.

The Irish fans praised the Japanese team’s showing, but were very disappointed with their own performance.

Aside from that, they also wanted to know if I realised what a nightmare a no-deal Brexit would mean for Ireland. I said I did.

Once I’d confirmed I was not a fan of Maggie Thatcher, I was told I must visit Westport one day. Maybe I will.

In any case, the night was excellent craic…all the way up until the police put an end to it because of noise levels.

Enough about partying. What about today’s rugby?

There was a strong performance from Georgia, who rebounded from their opening match defeat to brush Uruguay aside and a breathless, pulsating encounter between the Wallabies and Wales with the boys in red holding on for a famous victory.

Tomorrow, Samoa and Scotland will face off in a match that both sides will be desperate to win after the heroics of Japan yesterday.

Today’s Matches
Georgia 33-7 Uruguay (Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya)
Wales 29-25 Australia (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)

Tomorrow’s Match
Scotland vs Samoa (1645 JST) (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Expression of the day
楽しかったです (tanoshikatta desu)
Which means…
It was good craic.

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Today’s title is an expression you will see whenever Japan is playing sport. The two kanji 必勝 normally adorn headbands worn by supporters. The meaning of the first is “definitely” and the second is “win”. Yesterday, they definitely won.

But before getting onto THAT game, a quick recap on the other two matches yesterday. In the early kick-off, Argentina flew out of the blocks against Tonga, securing a bonus point in under 30 minutes before taking their foot off the gas in the second period.

In the late game, an all African affair, South Africa comprehensively overpowered the minnows of Namibia. The key match to determine qualification from this group is looking likely to be the Springboks’ match with Italy, which will be taking place in Shizuoka.

And that’s where yesterday’s big game was held, too.

On my way to work in the morning, I passed by many huddles of green taking a look around the city before catching the train to the venue.

Once work was over, I headed full steam for the fan zone, where a much larger crowd had assembled than there was for the Russia game. The weather was much better, too.

Ireland started well with an early try (not converted), but Japan quickly replied with 3 points of their own. Ireland then scored a second try (converted) to take a 12-3 lead, but Japan managed to kick themselves to within 3 by half time.

The second half saw Japan move ahead 16-12 thanks to their only try of the match before they kicked another 3 meaning Ireland would need two scores to win or a converted try to level.

That didn’t happen, and a huge roar broke out to celebrate a victory for the host nation on a par with their triumph against South Africa in the last tournament.

Japan now look well-placed to qualify for the last eight, but neither Samoa nor Scotland will be pushovers in their final group games. Ireland will also be expected to qualify, despite this unexpected setback.

CORRECTION: Thanks again to Yuka. It is possible to say both 必勝 (hisshou) and 必ず勝つ (kanarazu katsu). You should read the headband as “hisshou”, as the kanji stand alone.

Today’s Matches
Argentina 28-12 Tonga (Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
Japan 19-12 Ireland (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)
South Africa 57-3 Namibia (City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Georgia vs Uruguay (1415 JST) (Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya)
Australia vs Wales (1645 JST) (Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo)

Expression of the day
必勝 (kanarazu katsu)
Which means…
We will definitely win!

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Both of yesterday’s matches turned out to be strolls in the park in the end; Italy and England showed very few signs of weariness as they picked up seven tries apiece whilst conceding just the one. The US in particular were delighted to get on the scoresheet in the final action of the second half. For the victors, tougher tests lie ahead.

Climbing Mount Fuji is not such a stroll in the park. Unfortunately, climbing season coincides with typhoon season and the two are not happy bedfellows. If you were thinking about going up this year, I’m afraid the mountain officially closed on September 10th.

Mind you, that didn’t stop somebody I know with an ‘adventurous’ spirit (who will remain nameless) from waltzing up to the summit solo with a tent on his back and camping overnight out of season. Don’t try that at home folks. Seriously. People die up there.

The first time I tried to go up myself was as a Japan newbie. By the time I got to Fujinomiya fifth station and started up in zero visibility, strong wind and pounding rain, I was the only person ascending and everybody was telling me to go back. So I did.

Funnily enough, I bumped into some teachers from the same company as me who had made it up to the eighth station before being beaten by the weather gods.

Even more peculiarly, I met one of them on Japan’s second most famous volcano, Sakurajima, also by chance, a few months later. Small world!

My second attempt at Mount Fuji was in glorious weather. I went up with relatively little fuss wearing a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and trainers and wielding a climbing stick . I’d forgotten the sunscreen though, so I had to tie a towel round my head and neck.

Coming down, I realised I had gone up a little too fast and felt a bit giddy. It’s advisable to rest overnight in a hut rather than go straight up and down, but the prices are fairly exorbitant for what they offer.

Although I went up the Fujinomiya route, I came down the Gotemba trail. The latter features the ‘Great Sand Run’. This section of the mountain consists of a steep slope covered in black sand and the easiest way to negotiate it is by running.

It was far easier on my knees than standard descending, but it did destroy my trainers. I could barely get them off my feet afterwards and when they did finally come off they went straight in the bin.

Mount Fuji lies on the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures and Shizuoka, my adopted home, will be hosting the big game tomorrow, Japan vs Ireland.

I could hear plenty of Irish accents on the streets heading home this evening and I’ll definitely be heading to the fan zone tomorrow for the match. I’m hoping the Brave Blossoms keep it respectable.

Where will you be watching?

Yesterday’s Matches
Italy 48-7 Canada (Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka)
England 45-7 USA (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Argentina vs Tonga (1345 JST) (Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka)
Japan vs Ireland (1615 JST) (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)
South Africa vs Namibia (1845 JST) (City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota)

Expression of the day
富士山を登ったことありますか? (fuji san wo nobotta koto arimasu ka )
Which means…
Have you ever climbed Mount Fuji?

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