Japan autumn wrap up -Rugby World Cup, ancient dress up festival and yet another public holiday

🍂Autumn in Japan is known for many things in Japan🍂 – スポーツの秋、読書の秋、芸術の秋、 食欲の秋- Autumn for Sports, Reading, Arts, and Appetite.

Basically, the survivors of Japan’s stifling heat and humidity in summer remember that life is actually good (or that you can be alive) and are reborn with excitement and energy (plus autumn is a great harvest season)🥳.

⚠ Caution: This is a much longer post than usual so please be patient, just sit back and enjoy as part of the 読書の秋 (Autumn for reading).

スポーツの秋 – The autumn for Sports

Today is Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Final🏉.

Sadly, neither of my teams (Japan and All Blacks) are playing in the final but last week, but my husband and I went to Nissan Stadium in Yokohama to watch All Blacks play against England in the semi-final.

Nissan Stadium in Yokohama Japan the venue of semi final rugby world cup photographed by native expat in 2019 October
This beautiful stadium

According to Rugby World Cup, Yokohama is known as the ‘birthplace of rugby in Japan’ as rugby was played as early as 1860!

The final is also held at the same stadium and it’s a beautiful stadium….in a very quiet suburban area.

On the way to Nissan Stadium in Yokohama Japan photographed by native expat in 2019 October
… don’t mind 68,000+ of us in your sleepy neighborhood

The stadium is located around a 10-15 minute walk from the nearby train station and we walked past normal residential areas (who were selling food and drinks to the already lubricated rugby fans).

Differences in watching rugby in Japan and Australia

In Japan, you can bring your own food and drinks, yes, drinks to the sporting event 🍺.
Many Japanese will bring their bento (lunch box) and maybe crack open a beer or two and watch the game. After the game, they bring their rubbish home and usually go home.

In contrast, I find Australia makes sport an excuse for a drinking session. Session, because people catch up at a nearby pub for a pregame drink 🍺, then drink during the game 🍺 and drink after the game to debrief about the game with the people who watched the game with you 🍺. I often felt like these sports fan prioritised drinking over the game as they get off their seats to buy hugely expensive diluted beer while the game is on.
The Aussie way of enjoying a rugby game, I think, is similar in England and New Zealand as well.

Japan and the world’s Rugby drinking culture

I’m sure Japan’s Rugby World Cup has researched and planned the game hosting very well but this distinctively different way of enjoying a game has been a bit of a challenge for the hosting country. I have read that the many warnings that the foreign guests are drinking Japan dry. According to Asia Nikkei, Rugby fans drink six times more beer than soccer fans and foreign rugby fans drink 4.4 cups to every 1 cup the pint-sized Japanese drink🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺.

Repeatedly, Japan was told to pre-pour beers especially before half time for the flood of excited, frustrated or happy but definitely thirsty rugby fans who are eager for a top-up.

Yet, Japanese hospitality cannot lower the quality of drinking experience and insisted on a freshly poured cup of beer for every guest.

Saying all this, I absolutely loved the Heineken girls. Many girls carrying a massive Heineken bag containing 60 or so beers roam around the stadium offering beer. Although expensive for a Japanese standard (700yen or around AUD $9), you don’t have to leave your seat! The girl will crack open a can and pour you a drink while you don’t miss a second of the game. Amazing.

Heineken girls at Rugby World Cup stadium pouring beer photographed by native expat in 2019 October
Slow but cold and convenient

The semi-final didn’t go the way we hoped but the atmosphere was electric and I really love and proud of my country for bringing so much of our culture into this international game🎌.

Traditional Japanese drummers welcome the players on the field, the start of a kick off is the voice of Kabuki theatre. Not only this, I love that the players have incorporated the Japanese custom where often the players bow at the end of the game to the fans.

Japanese custom adopted throughout Rugby World Cup All Blacks bowing to the crowd at the end of semi final rugby world cup photographed by native expat in 2019 October
All Blacks ended their game against England with a bow to each side

読書の秋 – The Autumn for Reading

Last Thursday, October 31 was Halloween🎃. It’s quite an American holiday but it’s slowly spreading in Japan. Shibuya is known for a major Halloween party and young kids dressed up walking around the shopping streets for trick or treating from the participating shops.

I thought Japan’s slowly “westernised” but Japan is a very quirky and creative country. Of course, dressing up in “cosplay” is common now but it’s not a recent thing.

My boss showed me a tweet that Japanese has been celebrating an elaborate costume party from way back when – 1840. One is called 蝶々祭り, a butterfly festival.

“The 1840 Halloween, drawing of Butterfly Dance by Ozawa Kagaku”

There was no Amazon to buy your costumes back in 1840; how did they make such a high quality and super creative costumes?!

It was a costume festival held in Kyoto praying for a good harvest. This image is going around the Twittersphere a lot but this isn’t even the oldest costume party, some even go back to 1604!

芸術の秋 – The Autumn for Arts

This is yet another long weekend in Japan and this time, we’re celebrating 文化の日 (Bunka no hi, Culture Day).

What is Culture Day?

This is quite an old public holiday that was previously called 明治節 (Meiji-setsu) to celebrate Meiji emperor’s birthday🎂. After World War II, many holidays had to be changed that celebrated emperors and their image as deities but there were wishes from the community that Meiji Emperor shouldn’t be forgotten.

The compromise was to keep the date as a public holiday but completely change the meaning associated with the date. Culture Day – a day love freedom and peace, and to progress culture was born.

As the day is to celebrate arts and culture, many museums offer free entry and host special events.

Japan is absolutely beautiful now. Humidity has drastically dropped (finally!), it’s sunny, it’s warm but starts to get cool at night and it’s the perfect weather to be out and about to take in this beautiful country.

I feel that many people simply see a public holiday on their calendar and don’t actually find out what the day actually means. Thanks to this blog (and the encouraging words from the people who read this!🙌) and the opportunity to live in Japan, I have a deeper appreciation for these public holidays, for not just a day to have a day off but to celebrate it for what it is.

Excuse me, now I’m off to a museum🏃‍♀️!

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