On the way to Joe Schmidt’s opening World Cup press conference yesterday, you would have been forgiven for thinking that all of Japan was en route to Chiba to see if the Robbie Henshaw news was as bad as reported the previous night. Trains are not supposed to be this packed on Sunday mornings.
Turns out Disneyland is on the same train line to Ireland’s team hotel from Tokyo. Most of those people disembarked the train there and, frankly, need to have a look at their priorities.
An initial sense of Chiba might suggest to some that Disneyland is about the height of its appeal. There is an industrial feel to a lot of the area at first glance, but the more you look around and chat to people the more you realise that would be an unfair assessment. The beaches and mountains and rice paddies are as much a part of this place as towering apartment blocks and hotels.
This is a place that was just hammered by a typhoon last week and, this morning, those conditions don’t seem so far away.
“Two days ago I got scalded and today it’s raining - it’s like Galway,” said Jack Carty at the team hotel this morning.
Galway people, get ready for mudslides, because that’s exactly what the residents of Chiba are potentially facing over the next few days. Continued bad weather means a possible evacuation threat for tens of thousands of locals.
A brief reminder that Yokohama isn’t far away from here, Sunday is not far away from now and if the weather gets back to last week’s level, we could certainly face a cancellation threat. Such a situation would result in Ireland 0-0 Scotland.
In more positive news, the food is great.
Andrew Porter didn’t even need to venture into town to find a bit of life in his free time yesterday. He hung out by the hotel to sample some of the local cuisine.
“The food is fair nice. I’m a big sushi man,” he said.
Fair nice, indeed. Four days in, and most of us can now tell the difference between sushi and sashimi. It’s all raw fish. Some of it has rice, some of it doesn’t. Don’t mean to brag.
In further positive news, Andrew Porter hasn’t even needed to cover up his tattoos out and about on the streets of Japan:
“I’ve had to wear one of those long turtle vests and a sock over my calf, but walking around town is fine. Swimming is the only problem.”
For anyone in Japan, or currently en route to the tournament - I set you an impossible task: Try find a rude staff member in a restaurant or a bar or a hotel or a shop. I’ve been trying for over half a week and have failed miserably. It’s not even in an effort to curry favour with customers - tips are considered rude, for god’s sake. I lost a camera tripod in Tokyo station this afternoon, only for it to return to my arms and barely delay my schedule. If there is a dickhead in Tokyo, I have not met them yet.
Finally, could someone please tell me where all the litter is? It might well be the cleanest city I have ever been in, with not a single bin to throw stuff away, either. If you happen to be one of those seagulls that scour Dublin early in the mornings: Don’t come to Tokyo. You’ll die of starvation.