We arrived in Sakai, a suburb of sorts of Osaka, found the hotel, some food and then went straight to sleep. In the morning we took a trip to the local grocery store, filled with unidentifiable products and plenty of sushi and rice options. Mostly we bought fruit and veggies, because neither seem to appear often in Japanese cuisine.
We returned to the hotel to head out to the fields in our own private shuttle bus. It has fringed curtains and a very 70s vibe. Our first practice went well as we covered some zone plays and got used to each other and throwing in the muggy weather.
At our team dinner we had shabu shabu, essentially the Japanese version of fondu with various broths into which you put meat, tofu, dumplings and some veggies (cabbage, onion, mushrooms). Delicious.
Yesterday Paco and I went for a walk around Sakai and bumped into some of our teammates. We took an elevator to the 21st floor of one of the nearby buildings for spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding area. As we were leaving, hoards of school children were coming out of the elevators and seemed to get a kick out of saying “hello” in chorus to us.
We then rented bikes (about $13 for five days) and toured around a bit. Most Japanese ride their bikes holding umbrellas or with an umbrella attached to their front handlebars. We gave it a try too.
We scrimmaged against the Great Britain women’s team (not masters) in the afternoon, to try out our zones. We won both games to five, although the English ladies gave us a good challenge. Most of the team then headed out to shower and take the train to Osaka’s Dontonbori district, known for its neon, shopping and street food.
We sampled octopus in dough balls and a huge bowl of soup, noodles and pork. We then stopped by a Turkish ice cream shop for dessert and a little show. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdltA4V0lRQ).