Gateball in Tokyo

If you ever find yourself at a loose end in Tokyo on a Saturday morning then we can heartily recommend playing some Gateball near Tokyo Tower.  We arranged to meet our hosts Takayoshi Uemura (Taka) and Tadashi Takahashi (Tad) at Ukai restaurant by the gateball court.  There was a hard court with a fine gravel surface, which was a first for us – we’d only played on grass before.  After being introduced to the local club players (around 15 players) we had a warm up and started the first game.

We soon got used to the fast surface and won our first game and narrowly lost the second.  After that we were divided amongst the local teams and won and lost in equal measure.  Lunch was bought at the local supermarket and we played for most of the day, with different people leaving and arriving at various points.  Everyone was very friendly and despite the language barrier we laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The following day Tad and Taka had arranged for us to compete in the “Monthly Games” at the Olympic park.  Again we were confronted with gravel courts and 8 teams in 2 blocks of 4.  We were introduced to Mr Kazumasa Nakamura (Kaza) who would be playing with us during the day.  It was very hot and the courts played faster than the Tokyo Towers court, and we struggled to get our balls on (competition nerves strike again!). The competition was fierce but good humoured and everyone was again friendly and gracious. The closest we came to any kind of result was in the last game against Taka’s team, after a glorious slide from Trish allowed her to take off most of the opposition balls. Unfortunately we missed the Agari that would have tied the game.

We collected our prize (very practical in the circumstances) and went out with Taka, Tad and Kaza for a very enjoyable dinner at a local bar.

Our prize!

We have an open invite to return and I’m sure any Australian players that are visiting Tokyo would receive an equally warm welcome.  A big thank you to Taka, Tad and Kaza (as well as Michiko for helping with the arrangements) for everything they did for us, and hopefully we’ll meet again soon! One thing we all felt is that we didn’t want to leave Tokyo!

Geoff Crook

3 thoughts on “Gateball in Tokyo

  1. You are such an inspiring family. It was such an enjoyable post to read, and I was delighted you received a warm welcome. Great sense of humour re the tissue boxes, and also in the gift I think! At least when I came last in Newcastle games, I received a nice instant cooler neck towel, and not a wooden spoon!
    I mention your boys and their professional manner, when I and the Strathfield ‘School Croquet’ Team coach the local high school students. We are about to get our first junior member, and they need junior role models. Your family members are doing a great job in that role.

  2. This is a very true assessment of playing Gateball in Tokyo or any area in Japan. Visitors are warmly welcomed and showered with hospitality. Countless visits to many places from Tokyo to Toyota to Matsumoto to Nagoya etc , from Indoor, dirt surfaces to artificial surfaces, we have found there will be a group of people so happy to welcome visitors to play Gateball. We had regular weekend games at The Olympic Park venue when I worked in Tokyo since it was close to where our son lived. So many people are now discovering how great Japan is as a tourist place, I hope they take their Gateball sticks as well as their essential items.

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