Gateball in Tokyo area

Jim and Barbara Northcott, Satoshi and Keiichi

Jim and Barbara Northcott, Satoshi and Keiichi

Jim uses the huge brush to smooth over the surface at the end of the day's games.

Jim uses the huge brush to smooth over the surface at the end of the day’s games.

Before Christmas 2015 we were invited to play Gateball on one public holiday (Emperor’s Birthday) at Higashi Urawa north of Tokyo. Our host was a young, well known and an expert player/ tactician of Gateball -Satoshi Kamijo. The former International Director of WGU, Keiichi Imagawa, came along with us as well. The competition was for doubles, triples and teams – depending on what the players could organise. So a doubles team could play a game against a triples team or a team of 5 players, The entry was approximately $15 a player.

High School players from Tochigii Prefecture who arrived by school bus

High School players from Tochigii Prefecture who arrived by school bus

Some of the players from Adachi Prefecture

Some of the players from Adachi Prefecture

The New Year Celebration at a Sukiyaki restaurant

The New Year Celebration at a Sukiyaki restaurant

We played as a Triples and then as a team of four in an interesting arrangement. When playing like that, we each have a set number and then the number 9 or 10 is rotated through the group. So player 1 plays ball 2 and ball 10 and in the next round player 2 plays ball 4 and ball 10. Next round player 3 plays ball 6 and ball 10 etc.
In this competition the games are self refereed but are all started and finished with a hooter. Six courts were in use and it was a relaxed atmosphere off the court but demanding on the court. Altogether 6 games were played over the 6 hours of the day. We met a group of High School students who had travelled by school bus from Tochigii Prefecture.
At the end of the day results were announced and we looked at the prizes which were very practical items like bottles of sauce, oil, coffee, or sachets of detergent, shampoo or packets of biscuits or other delicacies. The prizes were distributed with the losers getting first pick off the table and the winners have final choice. It was a fabulous day of Gateball. Thank you Satoshi for inviting us.

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Two weeks later we visited our friends at Adachi Prefecture. We are regular visitors to this gateball hub and are always made so welcome. With fine but cold weather were able to play regular team games all day on the courts that are provided by the region. Later we had a celebratory meal of sukiyaki. Again, Keiichi Imagawa came along and later in the week played in a 20 team competition for that prefecture. He is a very sincere friend and a great promoter of Gateball around the world.

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