Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

In Hong Kong, the last weekend of March is the biggest party of the year - Rugby Sevens. Unlike the regular rugby games, only seven players per team play in the pitch and the duration of a half a match is only seven minutes. Of course, I did not know about the existence of this sport until several days ago. I was lucky to have been invited to be a spectator for it.

When I arrived at the Hong Kong Airport, this poster greeted me at the Express Train station platform.

On Friday, I watched the Women's games. Twelve countries participated, including Japan. I was very happy to report that the Japanese team won both games I watched - against Papua New Guinnea and Singapore.

Japanese women's team (black uniform) playing against Papua New Guinnea.

Japan women's team kicking off against Singapore.

All the women's games were played at the Hong Kong Football Club, but the final game was played as a part of the official games of the program at the Hong Kong Stadium - China vs. Australia. It was a very good match, but at the end, Australia was the Champion.

The moment right before the award ceremony - China in red, Australia in white.

A fun thing about HK7s is that many people come to the stadium dressed up in funny costumes. I was not sure whether rugby or "cosplay" was the main event!

These people were entering the stadium.

This is a snapshot of my hotel room TV on Sunday morning.

The men's games had 24 countries participating - Argentina, Italy, Scotland, Chinese Taipei, USA, Thailand, Canada, China, Wales, South Africa, Korea, Samoa, Russia, New Zealand, France, Fiji, Portugal, Australia, Tonga, England, Japan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong.

I watched all three games of Japan. The first game was on Friday evening against Wales. Japan played very well, but at the end, lost the game 10-12. Then on Saturday, the first game was against England. It really was no competition against them. But the game against the host, Hong Kong - which in the earlier game beat Wales, Japan was like a different team and was victorious with many more tries made compared to HK.

The game against Wales. Red team is Japan.

Japan team (black uniform) playing against England.

Here's the score when the time ran out - actually, England made another try after this, before the whistle blew.

On Sunday, I had to leave for home, so did not go to the stadium. I watched Japan play against Scotland. It really was a close game, but not good enough.

Picture of the moment right before the end of the game - from the screen of the TV in my hotel room. (Japan in red uniform)

The Fiji players - they were very big!

Rugby seven games are very fast moving and fun because each game is short and players are so few in the regular field. Although I could not stay to watch the final games, I thoroughly enjoyed it. (I learned after I came back to Tokyo that the final game was between Samoa and New Zealand. Samoa beat NZ with the score of 24-21.)



Hirakata is the city I lived in late 1960s until I was a second grader. By chance, my business trip took me there today.

Luckily, after my appointment, I had a couple of hours before I had to take the train back home.
So, I took a stroll to see if I could find where I lived 40 years ago! I somehow recalled my address from my childhood memory, and from a help from my iPhone GPS, I found the area I lived when I was a little boy.

This is the hill I walked up to go to my elementary school. The distance felt shorter than I remember. I guess I had much shorter legs then.

And here is the entrance of the school I attended for 1 year and a semester.

The area was much more built up than I remembered - the farm that had a tree I could catch stag beetles was no longer a farm, but had apartments. The little playground at which I learned how to ride a bicycle had houses built on it, etc.

The bamboo trees, I recognized seeing them in my childhood.

At the shrine that was a bit scary to me when I was little was not so at all. Here's the picture of the animal of this year.

I don't remember this Jizo temple, but it must have been there.

There sure are many hills there. It was such a warm day, I got very hot walking around my old neighborhood.

Here are some nice plum blossoms on my way back to the station.

I remembered much more than I thought I would. A lot was stored in my brain, I recognized.


Shanghai visit

This week, I visited Shanghai, China. Shanghai is situated at the 31 degrees north, so it is as south as Morocco, Egypt, Mexico, and India,. You'd think it is a warm place. But the days I was there, it was freezing and even snowed a bit - in March!

Of course, Chinese food is always great. But this time, I was very surprised that a
sashimi dish was served that for the Chinese did not used to eat raw fish.

When they serve tea, leaves are in the hot water. To drink it, you're supposed to wait until leaves fall to the bottom. Otherwise, you'll have a mouthful of leaves.

The setting sun in the foggy city seen from my hotel room.

Acrobatic artist at the famous Shanghai Circus. They were fabulous.

One of many shopping areas of Shanghai. This one is in Daning - one of the newer developments.