Koshien Bowl: Collegiate National Champs!
- And Some Cultural Reflections
I've always wanted to go to a college national championship. I just never thought it would be in Japan! Just so you know, football is not very well known or understood in Japan. I think that is why it was so very refreshing to be among people who did know what was going on, and to actually be a part of a great game. My team (via my sister-in-law, who is a manager on the team), Kansai University beat Hosei University 50-38. Great scoring, great offense... bad tackling, bad kicking - but overall an exciting game.
The thing that made this game the most interesting though were the things that were new to me, the things that are very unique to Japan-style football. Instead of a drum major, there was a cheer-major who was dressed kind of like an old Buddhist monk. He led big chants that seemed almost ritualistic. Of course the Japanese national anthem is also very solemn, which was also unique. 30-40,000 people singing sadly is an interesting sound to hear. After the game, there was the usual for-T.V. interview and the presentation of awards. But then, instead of goalposts being ripped down, there were deep bows from both sides and then deep bows to the crowd and people bowing to each other in the stands! Everyone was deeply grateful for each other I guess. I was grateful to God for a good game. Then as the awards were held the most unusual thing happened. Instead of some kind of party music, the tune to the song, "Thine is the Glory", an old hymn I remember from childhood was played. I guess I shouldn't be shocked. I often hear the tune to "When the Saints Go Marching In" when I am in the local appliance store!