10th June 2002

This is from my diary from when we first relocated to Japan – pre-blog. Other entries can be found here.
Went to Kobe for the World Cup on Friday: what a fantastic trip! We had to leave here at 7am but go onto our shinkansen in loads of time for the 3 1/2-hour journey. When we got there we got a taxi to our hotel, which was a very nice high-rise right by the waterfront. Think there were some FIFA officials or something staying there. Didn’t hang about – put on our football tops (Celtic for C, Sweden for me) and headed to the stadium. Suddenly the streets were full of green and yellow (and Japanese blue) and C started to count Celtic tops. His enthusiasm petered out fairly quickly and he stopped when he reached 7 or 8. Quick sushi lunch from the 7-11 then we joined the throng and went in.
People-watched for a bit – small children playing, laughed at the fans, then the Sweden team came out to have a look at the pitch so we had a debate about whether the chap with no hair was Larsson or not. No matter, because when they changed and came back out he was definitely there – C went down to the front to take some pictures and got a wave!
The match was pretty exciting, even for me – an American girl next to Cameron had to have him explain the offside rule, which I think he secretly enjoyed. There were some Swedes and one very keen English boy behind us, and an Irish man with his Japanese girlfriend next to me – they seemed to be supporting Nigeria. I was hoping for a tie (but was happy to see Sweden win as it made everybody else happy).
At half time, a man in a Celtic top came over to say hello – we bumped into him in a pub that evening and karaoke’d until 4am, but that comes later. After the match, we hung about in the stadium chatting (mostly to people in Celtic tops – one Japanese lad wanted to know why there were so many). Lots of Glaswegians – some with Larsson masks, some in kilts. We had our picture taken loads of time – I kept my mouth shut as I didn’t want to disappoint anybody by not being Swedish.
We did eventually leave and walked about 100 miles around the subway station before being allowed into it. Back to the hotel for a quick shower then out to the nearest Irish bar to watch the England match. Bumped into aforementioned Celtic top-wearer (Eddie) and his mates (Kevin, Allan) – not too keen to support England but they did manage to say they were happy when we won. Not convinced they meant it!
Bar was full to the brim with people standing on the bar to see…and only one barman, poor chap. Some Japanese girls had come especially to scream and swoon when David Beckham came on screen. There were a couple of other English people there but mostly Japanese, who could be persuaded to cheer for either side – or any other side. Important not to offend. (Kevin told us about when they’d been on a train on their way to Ireland-Germany, there were two Japanese boys on the train in Germany shirts. At the next stop, the train filled up with Irish fans shouting and singing – apparently the boys looked at one another then got Ireland shirts from their bags, put them on, and joined in the singing! ha ha.)
Once the match was over and the bar had emptied, we went to “Mickey’s bar” and did karaoke until 4 or so. Cameron made friends with – we think – a prostitute; one woman tried to sing Britney Spears; I howled my way through Puff the Magic Dragon…then a woman arrived who could actually sing, so we called it a night.
Next morning passed us by completely but we eventually made it back to the station to leave our bags then went and looked at Kobe. A nice city though we were perhaps a bit knackered to completely appreciate it. Saw a shrine, chinatown (bought a new bag and some chopstick rests), a huge shopping centre then the old area where Westerners first lived, before riding up and down the mountain on a cable car and coming home. Only to discover that the house had been broken into, but I don’t want to write about that.

Leave a Reply