World Cup 2002

Friday June 21, 2002

I'm off to the World Cup Finals, courtesy of United Airlines (in exchange for lots of frequent flyer miles!) with my friend Mike Mitchell from Denver. United is a sponsor of the World Cup and they had an auction where you could bid frequent flyer miles for this trip. I had one of the top three bids in North America, so off we go! The package includes air travel, accommodation at the Century Hyatt in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and tickets to the semi-final between Brazil and Turkey and the final. Obviously we're disappointed not to be seeing England play, as they got so close, but it will still be great to see Brazil.  To see a movie of the reaction to England's goal against Brazil at my place (500KB) click here - unfortunately it was downhill from then on!

Check back here for regular updates and pictures during the trip (providing I can connect in okay from Tokyo, which I should be able to).

Update: There are now three photo albums, one for Tuesday to Thursday, and another from Friday onwards, including a few highlights from the final, and the full album of the Final.

Tuesday June 25, 2002

We arrived in Tokyo to find it looked disconcertingly like London, at least partly because of the cool, gray, rainy climate. If only England had hung on, these would have been ideal conditions for us to play in! Narita airport looked just like Heathrow, and the trip to our hotel was reminiscent of the M4 in west London. We haven't seen walls of Neon signs a la Blade Runner yet, but will go in search of these tomorrow. However, the high technology in our bathroom reminds us that we are not at home - our toilet has all kinds of complex controls that gave Mike a fright when he was the first to use the facilities!  We have quite a good start on World Cup freebies in the package that was here for us when we arrive, with some World Cup raincoats, fans which make a quite clapping noise when you wave them, and various badges etc.

To see the photo album for Tuesday to Thursday click here.

Wednesday June 26, 2002

This morning we wandered around the Shinjuku area which is where our hotel is - lots of shops and neon signs - we finally felt we were in Tokyo!! I bought a Brazil cap for the game, but Brazil merchandise was in short supply.

In the afternoon we caught the bus to a hotel in Saitama for a pre-game party organized by Yahoo!, who are hosting us here. An unexpected bonus was that the Brazilian team was staying at the same hotel, so we saw their bus leave for the game - although it was hard to identify anyone! At the party there were two women doing face-painting, so Mike and I both took advantage of that - I got a Brazil flag and an England one, while Mike went for England and Japan. The game itself was great, very open with lots of chances. Almost felt a bit sorry for Turkey as almost the whole stadium was filled with real Brazilians or aspiring Brazilians from Japan, England or anywhere else. But was pleased to see Brazil win, and am hoping they will beat Germany by a suitably large margin in the final!

To see the photo album for Tuesday to Thursday click here.

Thursday June 27, 2002

Today we braved the Tokyo railway system for the first time, and managed to find our way round rather well. First we went over to the Sony building, which has eight floors of Sony gadgets. But we were really rather disappointed with it - there wasn't anything we hadn't seen before and much of it wasn't very well organized. I'm thinking of opening my loft to the public as a rival attraction :) !!  After that we wandered round the Ginza area for a while, and had lunch at a good little Sushi Bar where all the dishes came round on a conveyer belt and you just took what you wanted. There was no sign of any English there so it felt like a bit of an adventure. Afterwards we took the train up to Akihabara, the electronics shopping district, and had a good look around there. Didn't buy anything yet but will probably be going back tomorrow.

To see the photo album for Tuesday to Thursday click here.

Friday June 28, 2002

In the morning we went for a walk around the park opposite our hotel, which had a nice little shrine in it, and we went up to the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building next to the hotel, which gave great views over Tokyo even though conditions were fairly hazy. For lunch we met our Japanese friends Kasahara and Yabe, who we know through Smallworld, and they took us to a small Japanese restaurant where we had eel, which was very good. In the afternoon they took us to Akihabara, and we got to see a lot that we didn't see on Thursday's visit. In particular we saw lots of smaller market stalls selling all sorts of electronic components rather than finished goods. For a more detailed report on the gadgets that we saw in Akihabara, check here. We went for dinner at a great little Yakitori place which was a regular haunt of Kasahara's.

To see the photo album for Friday onwards click here.

Saturday June 29, 2002

Today we went to Kamakura, which is a small town south of Tokyo with lots of temples and shrines. We met up with Mifune, the wife of David Theriault from Smallworld, her sister Misato and son Jin, and they showed us round. We did lots of walking and saw various shrines and the giant Buddha there.  It had a very serene atmosphere even though there were lots of people there - very different from anything we'd seen so far. 

To see the photo album for Friday onwards click here.

Sunday June 30, 2002 - the Final!!

The Final was a great experience. We spent quite a bit of time wandering round near the ground beforehand, and there was a great party atmosphere with Brazilians of all nationalities on the streets. We were filmed briefly by a BBC camera crew when we were with a Scottish bagpipe player. The game itself was exciting, with Germany playing a much more attacking game than I thought they might. We were sitting at the end where Ronaldo scored his two goals and had a great view. The pyrotechnics at the end of the game were impressive - as Cafu was holding up the cup, loads of silver confetti was sprayed into the air, and then thousands of origami storks started falling from the roof of the stadium - it must have been a huge effort to make them all! Afterwards there was some major partying going on - check this short video to get an idea of the atmosphere outside afterwards (my camera nearly got knocked out of my hand while I was filming, in which case I would never have found it again).

To see the full photo album for the Final click here.


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