Regardless, I wanted to check out a game. It was close by, cheap, and probably my one and only change to see a seven-foot-tall person with tattoos in rural Japan, so we packed up our bags and headed out to the stadium. I say stadium, but it was really nothing more than a court and some bleachers, hardly seating more than the Thunder Dome--the grandiose name of the Manual High School gym.
I hadn't been hoping to find nachos smothered in fake cheese, which is good because they didn't have any. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of things that I've gotten used to seeing at professional sporting events that I didn't get to see here. The sexy Denver Nuggets dancers? Replaced by scantily-clad elementary schoolers. The energetic, active and personable Super-Mascot Rocky? Replaced by someone in grouse suit who stood there and waved a flag the whole game. The basketball? Replaced with a much lower-scoring, less floppy version of the pro ball I'm used to. In general, Japanese basketball is a stripped down game with much less fanfare, but still enjoyable. I think there's a lot less pressure to perform, so there's less nasty, dishonest behavior. We did get to hear one of the Grouses loudly proclaim "That was bullshit!" when he disagreed with a call--something he would never have gotten away with in the US. I guess there are certain perks to working in a country where no one knows what you're saying.
The season is set up quite differently in Japan, as well. Instead of playing games during the week, each team plays two games a weekend--against the same team. Today's game was the second day in a row that the Grouses had taken on the Happinets (we lost last night 77-87, but won this afternoon 83-77). This system wouldn't work in the US, since the NBA plays so many games, but since there are only 16 teams in the BJ League, it works fine here.