Andrew Magrath (biggrumpy) wrote,
Andrew Magrath

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The Piper of Osaka Gymnasium

Last night Brian, Dan, Good Paul, and The Daito Divas™ went to a basketball game. It is events like that when it really strikes you that you are in a foreign culture. We went thinking of hot dogs, nachos, and (for the others) beer. What we found was a few pathetic drink bars. You apparently bring your own food. Though it was funny to watch the guy in front of me eat a ton of takoyaki (fried dough with octopus chunks in it). To me, octopus is the ultimate basketball food.

The game itself was between the Osaka Evessa the returning champions and the champions of the Korean basketball association, the Samsung Thunders (yes you read that right the thunder-s). The odd thing about the Japan Basketball league (other than its name is often shortened to the BJ League) is that all the teams have vaguely European sounding nonsense names, like the Osaka Evessa for example. They also go crazy on the sound effects during the game. They like to have the players names sounded when they score, but it is in that annoying radio show voice, so when the guy named Newton scored (and he did a lot) a deafening, “N-N-NEW-NEW-NEWTON, NEWTON” would resound through the sound system.

This is only the second year for the league. Basketball is a pretty marginalized sport and it showed. The section of the gym -- which was the size of a small arena -- was completely full, but even in the “nose bleed” seats we were still about 25-50 yards away from the court. We were close enough to read numbers and names with relative ease.

The teams were not very good, but that was, in all honesty, part of the fun. It was teams that honestly liked basketball going at it, without all the whining stupid crap you see on the NBA. They were out there to play, so it was fun. There were also not a whole lot of slam dunks, which I always found to be the absolute lamest part of the game. If you are like seven feet tall it would be amazing if you couldn’t dunk. I had a blast especially when I got tired of the sanctioned cheers (yes they have those). No one tends to deviate from the standard cheers such as “Oo-saka Eva’sa! [stomp your feet]” or “Eve’sa, Eve’sa, GOOOOOO [rinse repeat]”.

The first thing that I decided to love was the “Gong of Shame” whenever the opposing team missed a free-throw they played a sound effect of a gong. How great is that? I quickly started yelling “Gong of Shame!” whenever this happened.

After a lot of Japanese people turned around to see who the idiot yelling “Gong of Shame!” was, they started to like me. I have found that the Japanese can be very opening and willing to drop away their more group oriented mentality if someone else goes first. I was that person.

For irrational reasons, I latched onto a player named Joho (pronounced Joe-hoe). He made a legitimately cool steal followed by a lay-up and I went nuts yelling his name. My entire section also started yelling his name, one guy turned around and I yelled to him “JOHO NUMBER 1!” He screamed back something like “HAI! JOHO!” (Yes [you are right], JOHO!”) There was total bonding there.

As the other team was on the free throw line I booed loudly and heard a very small voice behind me yell boo too. I turned around to find about 15-25 kids. I gave the kid that booed a thumbs up, which drove those kids into a frenzy of thumbs ups. I yelled “YEAH!” which they soon mimicked. Soon all of us were screaming at the top of our lungs “YEAH!” and “BOOOO!” When a particularly bad or amateur-esque play would happen to the other team I yelled, “HA HA HA HA HA!” Very slowly and deliberately. This became my most successful cheer. The kids really got into this one. It was easy to pronounce, and they knew enough to know when mistakes were made. Ha Ha Ha’s rained down whenever the other team messed up.

Amazingly another group of young girls also picked up our cheers on the other side of the gym. We also slipped into the more standard cheers when they applied, but I was happy that we could mix it up a bit. Here is a typical audio sampling from our section during the game:
Brain yells: “Give the ball to Joho!”
[Joho misses the shot]
[The other team gets the ball]
[They miss the shot]
Me and my minions: “HA HA HA HA HA HA!”
[Osaka gets the ball]
Brain yells: “Give the ball to Joho!”
[Joho misses the shot]

They were putty in my hands, and I molded them into annoyingly loud sports fans.

Go Joho, go!

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