Last weekend saw the opening day of the new 2015 J-League season. I’m missing football massively at present, especially with City romping to a much-coveted lower league domestic double back home! It’s typical that after so many years of being shit, we’ve finally turned a corner now I’ve left Bristol!
So anyway, for a footballing fix we went down to Yokohama last weekend to watch Yokohama FM host Kawasaki Frontale in a local derby:
The game was played at the Nissan Stadium, venue of the 2002 World Cup final. There were over 38,000 people inside the stadium, but in truth it looked empty due to the sheer size of it.
As with seemingly most stadia in Japan, it has a running track around the outside of the pitch. This basically means that wherever you’re sat is so far away from the pitch that the players are mere specks on the landscape. One young lad in front of us had a pair of binoculars. He’d been before clearly.
Japanese football itself is hard to watch. It lacks any visible passion and is very slow-paced (it probably doesn’t help that you end up viewing it from half-a-mile away!). The players, whilst being technically sound, lack any physicality, which I guess partly explains their overall absence in any of the world’s major leagues:
The fans, for me, are the main talking point. I’ve been to a couple of J-League games now and seen numerous ‘Riverpoor’ games in pubs. I don’t relate to Japanese football fans at all and their behaviour is nothing like a European or South American fan. The support almost feels false, and certainly very forced. From an hour before kick-off they’re all in the ground chanting. The displays of colour are amazing. But it’s just one permanent high, from start to finish. It feels very American.
Even when Yokohama were getting played off the park, their fans’ attitude didn’t change. You’d have thought they were romping home for victory. I’m not used to that behaviour and I don’t think I’d really want to either. It’s too polite. Don’t get me wrong, I love the politeness of the Japanese people but there’s a time and place for it and football, in my opinion, isn’t the place. I enjoy the tense atmosphere created by two partisan sets of fans reacting to a game that unfolds in front of them. In Japan you can almost guarantee the atmosphere will be the same at any game, regardless of who’s playing. It’s not for me I’m afraid.
Final score: Yokohama FM 1-3 Kawasaki Frontale