Z Notes Blog by Jim Zumwalt
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Rice Bowl

(Photos courtesy of Asahi Shimbun.)

Jan. 18 - As a fan of American Football, I accepted without hesitation an invitation to represent the United States Embassy at the 64th annual Rice Bowl. This annual game of American Football played at the Tokyo Dome pits Japan's university champion against the champion company team.

When Ann and I arrived at the indoor stadium, we immediately recognized many similarities with college football bowl games in the United States. Fans on one side of the stadium were clothed in the red school colors of Ritsumeikan University to support their Panthers football team. The other side was dominated by fans wearing the blue colors of the Obic Seagulls. Cheerleaders from both teams led their fans in enthusiastic cheering, and both teams were filled with emotion and played hard. The halftime show featured a talented marching band and color guard just as one might see at a football game on an American college campus.

However, we also noticed some Japanese influences on this game of American football. When the announcer introduced the referees, they stood at the back of the end zone, took off their hats and bowed deeply to the players on the field. We met some fans with their hair elegantly coiffed who came to the game dressed in their finest kimonos. A hush fell over the crowd when the cheerleaders instructed the Seagulls fans to be quiet so the kicker could concentrate. And our food choices included some quintessential Japanese delicacies like fried noodles and boiled fresh soybeans.

At the end of the game, I went down to the field to award the American Ambassador's Cup to the winning Obic team. After my presentation, the mayor of Hida Takayama City presented the winning team with a 90 kg sack of "Waninoen" rice. The mayor could barely lift the heavy sack, but the burly Obic lineman carried it away with ease.

Ann and I were also honored with a sack of this award-winning rice. We used it when Ann made some fresh sushi for some friends earlier this month. We were delighted to leave the Rice Bowl with that bag of delicious rice, and we also enjoyed both the similarities and differences of an American Football game in Japan.

Here is an interesting poster for this year's Rice Bowl.

Until next time,


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