All Australian teams are traveling by bullet train to Niigata today. There have been no new tournament announcements however the leftovers of a typhoon are currently passing over central Japan dropping large amounts of rain. This is expected to continue today before dissipating for Friday. Court drainage will be important with practice scheduled to commence from 10am Friday, Niigata time. The latest weather forecast is available here.
Canberra in Sakura
Today the Canberra team travelled to the small regional city of Sakura for practice matches. Mr Koguchi, regional gateball director had organised a fantastic day including a welcome, a 5 team mini tournament, a dinner reception with the local mayor and a cultural performance including Japanese harps and dance.
Although Nikko is a small town they hold significant gateball skill. Canberra’s opposition included the “Gate Stars” who have previously finished 3rd in the 2002 World Gateball Championship and the Sakushingakuin High School team who finished in 3rd place in the 2014 Japan Junior Gateball Championship. Canberra played four matches in the mini tournament, winning one and losing three. Despite the relatively poor results Canberra took heart by being competitive in most matches with some exellent turns mixed wth some poor turns.
The courts were light sand on dirt and ran true. Court speeds were fast and Canberra never fully adjusted to the speed.
Games were followed by a reception with the mayor, some wonderful food and drinks including some excellent saki, an exchange of gifts, traditional music on Japanese harps and traditional dancing performance with masks. All in all a wonderful day.
Additionally, earlier in the day Gilon and Bryan from the Canberra club came across an elderly local team playing in Nikko. They were able to join in a match on the gravel courts.
The locals were very impressed with the Australian’s grasp of the game and admired the “centre style hitting” that they had never seen before.