Well, it’s been a hell of a weekend and today, with Giles and Alan away back to Blighty, Pete and I are resting our livers and trying to repair some of the damage caused to our budget plans…
We’re staying in a Tokyo Disney resort hotel that’s located in the Tokyo version of docklands. Barring the hordes of kids it’s very quiet – hardly an Englishman about, and the World Cup is passing this part of the city by. Only Planet Hollywood (where we are now regulars and the Manager knows us by name) shows the games and the place is almost deserted. Could be a different story when the Japs kick off tomorrow though.
Two things strike you about Tokyo immediately. It’s incredibly clean – no litter on the streets, the underground, anywhere. They have great respect for the city – shame it ain’t the same in London. Second, the people are so friendly and helpful it’s almost embarrassing until you get used to it. They are absolutely terrific and it has to be said that the girls are beautiful – and according to the ex-President of Tokyo FC who we bumped into the other day, they are even lovelier in Sapporo. What a shame.
Day 1 – Arrival. Knackered. A typical Japanese meal of pasta and beer is followed by crashing out. Cannot make email connection.
Day 2 – Plans for sightseeing somewhat spoiled by us sleeping until 3pm. 17 hours kip. A record. We slept through a fire drill and constant attempts to get in and clean the room. Finally met Giles and Alan in the lobby bar at 4pmish. Breakfast is half a lager. Rest of day spent at local shopping mall and in Planet Hollywood. France lose 1-0. There is much celebration from our table. No one else seems to notice… Cannot make email connection. Half the staff have now been to the room at some stage or another – discover this is not necessarily a bad thing…
Day 3 – Out and about early. Check out Ginza (Tokyo’s 5th Avenue) and a beautiful local park before heading to Roppongi (Tokyo’s Soho) where we watch the football with many other English and Irish fans. Great atmosphere for Cameroon v Ireland. Much beer is drunk. Head to local eatery which turns out to be a Korean cook it yourself place. The food is excellent – marinated beef, liver, spiced vegetables and noodles. Return to the magic kingdom, drop into Planet Hollywood (now called Steve’s because of the head waiter) in time to see the Germans taking the Saudis to the cleaners. Several more beers and more food later, we end up in Windows, the Hotel’s 11th floor bar. Tragically, we carry on the drinking, deciding Margaritas, Brandy, Grappa and finally triple whiskies from Alan’s duty free stash back in his room are a good preparation for the Big Day tomorrow. Suss out internet when completely smashed so justifying earlier binge.
Day 4 – The Big Day. Hangover from hell and can’t understand why. Leave hotel at midday to eat large burgers and drink coke. Recovery begins. Head to Saitama. It is dull so we head for the only place even duller where we at least find a diner to eat and drink in while the KO hour approaches. A few other English drift in and out. Atmosphere at the ground is subdued but very friendly. Fans mixing freely. The stadium is beautiful – a stunning piece of architecture. Japanese are everywhere with St. George’s makeup and England shirts. Bizarre.
Shan’t bore you with the game, you all saw it anyway I expect. Best thing was the respect for the two anthems – no booing whatever. Don’t think it’ll be the same on Friday for the Argies. Apres match, the atmos was still good. Talked to some Swedes on the way home and they were delighted with the point. They think they’ll be going out but wouldn’t be drawn on our chances. Took us 3 hours to get back and Steve’s was about to shut. However, they kept it open for us to have a couple of reflective beers and even reopened the kitchens so we could have a steak as well. Plus they replayed the Kylie video for us on request… The service is incredible in Japan – and genuine. Unlike the yanks, they don’t expect tips and they believe in what they are doing. No superficiality, no falseness. Giles didn’t conger into Windows and kiss everyone as he’d promised the night before since we didn’t win. The relief was palpable.
Day 5 – Chill out. Lie in. Amble in the sun, write emails, download pictures, plan sightseeing for next two days. So much to see. Heading to Steve’s at 6pm to watch the Brazilians.