Well, you never know when life will throw you a curveball of sorts... after months of being baseball mad, all of a sudden it was softball that seemed to be everywhere I looked.
First, probably one of the biggest things to hit the town this year, some early rounds of the National Womens Softball Tournament were played at the local sports ground. It was definitely a big production- lots of buildings erected, facilities upgraded, temporary scoreboards and grandstands, etc. Even the middle school's baseball field, used for warming up, had a new backstop net installed.
The tournament included all of the biggest company teams colleges throughout Japan, and the level of play was really high. The best company teams had some Olympians on their rosters, including the occasional foreigner. The entire school went one morning to watch a game, and I had the opportunity to talk with one of the American players for a couple of minutes, asking about softball life in Japan. Turns out the players are semi-pro- they work for their companies in the morning and then practice in the afternoon/evening. I didnt ask, but I'm sure the foreign players are well-compensated for their efforts. But that aside, everyone was really nice and it was cool to see something like that come to town for once.
I ended up playing some softball as well. The city had their fall tournament and I played for the local Ono Machi team. Well, the first game the other team was really great and they blew us out of the water, 24-4. They had a pitcher with the whole windup motion, a couple of really good female players, and it wasnt even close. After that, our team started to play better, plus a few more players showed up for our team, and we won the next three games by a combined score of something like 75-15. So I guess we had a tough time finding the right balance of competition. I think most involved had a good time though.
In the end, we won the loser's bracket, and our first opponent won the whole tournament. Of course, this being Japan, the only way to celebrate is to drink a lot of beer, which everyone did in due course. I wasnt so jazzed about doing it on a Thrusday night, but we won, so spirits were high and everyone was in a good mood.
Friday was a bad day in uniquely Japanese ways. First, I had a massive hangover from the more or less compulsory drinking with colleagues of the previous night. Of course, the day was jam-packed with classes, just my luck. The 3rd years, the oldest students, had one of the worst, most apathetic classes I've had the displeasure of being in. Good effort, guys! Then, I had some bank business to take care of, but because Japanese banks are just weird, I wasnt able to get it taken care of and I will have to go to another branch on Monday to get it done.
And for good measure, I have a demonstration class on Monday, so still with a massive headache I tried to work with one of the English teachers to make a good lesson plan. Unfortunately, his spoken English isnt that great, and neither of us were coming up with any good ideas, so it was a nice hour or so of fruitless, stilted miscommunication.
Finally, we worked out something reasonable, and then because in Japan you have to discuss everything endlessly, some other teachers and the vice principal came in to look over our lesson plan. The upshot of all of this is, the plan got changed around almost completely from what we had originally set out, and because Japanese people don't think twice about spending their entire lives at the workplace, it was nearly 6pm before it was all over.
Normally I don't mind staying later, in fact for sports practices normally end around that time anyway, but dont mess around late on a Friday after I've had a headache all day!
And I'm still not sure exactly what the whole plan is, as I more or less gave up on listening to the meeting. I agreed to meet up with the English teacher on Sunday to try and work it out because of course I will be going to the bank Monday morning before the demo lesson, and we cant work on it then. Fantastic.