japan

Date night with Yokohama FC

Once we knew we’d be going to Japan — you know, we secured that travel visa that ended up being moot since Japan “opened up” to foreigners the day after we arrived. — Bryce and I both started planning the “one thing” we wanted to do while there.

His was to go to a soccer match. He loves soccer, well, sports in general. We typically visit family in Japan around the New Year but there’s never any sporting events during that time. It’s always between seasons or even things like sumo wrestling take a break because of oshogatsu (New Year). Just to show you how much we are into sports, we even purchased tickets for a few events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics — but we all know how that all went down.

Fall would be our chance to actually spectate a sporting event in Japan! Our visit was mid-October so it was perfect timing to see soccer or baseball, right? Well, baseball was already in playoffs so that wasn’t a real option to easily get tickets. But what Bryce really wanted to see was soccer anyway.

My grandma lives in Kamakura so the closest city with teams to go see is in Yokohama. Bryce looked up the schedule for the Yokohama F. Marinos and, with just our (bad) luck, the team had a break the two weeks we’d be in Japan. He looked at Tokyo teams too but a lot of those teams were also on a break. But, since there is more than one league, Bryce learned that Yokohama FC, the soccer team in the second league, did have a match that would align with our visit! It was the day after we would return from our Karuizawa trip, but beggars can’t be choosers slash no rest for the weary or something like that, right?

Ahead of the Sunday evening match, I naped a good portion of the day before we headed out to Yokohama. (Did I mention I was very sick before we flew out to Japan? It was not covid but it is quite the story in itself, which I will save for another day. You know, as I do. Anyway, I think my body was still catching up on sleep.) But once I woke up at 2pm, I was ready to go an hour later for our date night.

Waiting and eating before kick-off

We arrived at the stadium shortly before 4pm, the time the gates would open. I felt a little out of place because everyone around us was dressed in their Yokohama FC gear. (Is this what it feels like to go to a Sounders game without wearing rave green?) I did however know that I couldn’t show up wearing red, the opponent’s color. There are strict rules on not wearing the opposing team’s colors. We weren’t even seated in the supporters’ section (for those non-soccer people who are still reading this post, this is the section in the stands where people wave big banners/flags and lead the cheers for the home team), but even our seats had a warning to not wear the opponent’s colors.

As we walked from the bus stop to the entrance of the stadium, we heard a collective cheer. Everyone was really happy. Then I overheard someone say that because of the results of a different game, Yokohama FC would be able to move up to the top league next season. How neat!

We waited in a long line to get into the stadium but it went quickly. Just as we were about to go through the security check, an employee stopped me and asked if he could take my temperature. I don’t think I really had a choice. Luckily my temperature was not elevated and I was OK’d to enter the stadium. I’m not sure why I randomly got selected. Bryce and I joked that I must have looked sweaty.

Inside the stadium, there were several different food carts. We got in line for a bento food cart and Bryce got chicken karaage and me being a vegtarian, I got fish. We easily found our seats and enjoyed our dinner before the match. It was a warm and nice mid-October evening.

Even though we arrived about two hours before kick-off, it didn’t feel like we had to wait for a really long time. We ate. We people watched. We watched the teams warm up. Unlike American sporting events where we sing the national anthem before a game starts, at this Japanese soccer match, there was an “up and coming” Jpop singer who performed a few songs for us. Any by perform, I’m pretty sure he was lip syncing.

The match

Yokohama FC was playing against Zweigen Kanzawa, for those who care. I won’t give a play-by-play recap since 1. This is not a soccer blog and 2. I don’t remember every single detail since I am writing this more than a month later.

There was a lot of energy from the fans of both teams. We lost. (Yes, I am claiming Yokohama FC as my home team now.) But, even though we lost, it was an entertaining match ending in 2-3. There were little kids who had a whole cheerleading routine during half time. There were even multiple mascots, which I never figured out why. (Like, there were more than 2 mascots on the field at half time!)

It was nice to finally see a match in-person in Japan. Maybe next time we’ll be able to bring baby with us because she won’t be a baby. This was an evening game so it didn’t align with her 7pm bedtime.

Thanks, Yokohama FC and good luck next season!

2 thoughts on “Date night with Yokohama FC”

  1. How fun! I have attended a baseball game in Japan (Hanshin Tigers) and it was really fun. Just a few weeks ago, I was doing a homestay/Spanish study in Guatemala and went to see a football (soccer) game between Antigua GFC and Coban Imperial – and we won! (Yes, I’m claiming Antigua as my team, too!)

    Liked by 1 person

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