We just crossed the International Date Line and the seat beside, where Chase should be sitting, is empty. Truthfully, it’s been pretty nice to have an empty seat next to me on this long, long flight but it remains to be seen what the long term repercussions of the Passport Debacle will be. At the very least, I’ve learned not to run my passport through the washer and then try to use it to travel with.
We finally made it to Sakai and found it shocking, boring and awesome. Shocking was the ¥160,000 cab ride from the airport. Boring was the location way out in canal-town with no city to be seen anywhere. Awesome was the ofuro after 30+ hours of travel.
Our second day in Japan spiraled outward and outward from the field site. Looking for a more Japanese and less sanitized experience, we bailed on the dorms at the field sit and slogged our way through the humidity to a tiny little hotel with tiny little rooms. I went to get Chase and spent four hours wandering through Sakai, then Osaka, then Itami Airport only to miss him by 5 minutes. He beat me back to the hotel. Sigh.
In between all that we did find some time to talk a little ultimate with folks. The first interesting thing has been the real difference in language. We are making little 5 minute videos of the team names so that we can practice and not screw them up during the broadcast. They are super short, each player says their number, their name twice and their on field job. A bit is revealed about how teams think about ultimate in the language they use to describe themselves. The Australians had three jobs: handler, receiver and utility. Utility? Interesting. The Japanese had only two positions: handler and middle. Deeps? Apparently there are none in Japan.
I had a long conversation with some of the Colombian Mixed team about their expectations for the tournament and the first thing out of their mouths was to improve Colombia’s reputation internationally. I questioned them best I could across the language barrier about what their approach would be. “To have fun and love the game. Know the rules and play with the rules you know. To adjust the physicality of their game to the conventions of the other teams.”