Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Soccer match at Saitama Stadium

As I wrote in the previous post, hubby and I had been to Tokyo area from 20th to 23rd November 2015. On 22nd November, we went to see a professional soccer match at Saitama Stadium 2002. It is a soccer stadium and is often just called Saitama Stadium. The stadium is located in Midori-ku of Saitama City in Saitama prefecture. It is currently used by J1 League soccer club named Urawa Red Diamonds for home games. However the stadium was originally built to host matches of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Its construction was completed in September 2001. The stadium can hold a maximum of 63700 people but during the league games hosted at the ground a reduced capacity of 62300 people are allowed. The field size is 105 meters x 68 meters, and the surface is grass.

On 21st November 2015, we purchased two tickets for the professional soccer match at a convenience store in Tokyo area. The tickets cost 3216 Yen per person for the reserved seats at the main upper section of Saitama Stadium. On 22nd November 2015, we left the hotel in Tsukuba City, where we stayed during our Tokyo area trip, at about 10 am and took several local trains to reach Urawa Misono Railway Station in Midori-ku of Saitama City. From the station, we leisurely walked for about 30 minutes to reach the entrance area of Saitama Stadium. The stadium looked huge from outside and we enjoyed looking at the architectural design of the stadium building for some time. We entered inside the stadium at about 12.15 pm. The minute we entered inside, we were transported to a different world altogether. We loved the atmosphere inside the stadium where a huge crowd had gathered to see the match. We bought a few snacks from a food stall located outside the stadium and settled in our seats. The whole field was visible from our seats. We loved viewing the interior architecture of the big and clean stadium. We noted that while there is roof over the main-stand and back-stand seating arrangements of the stadium, the other seating areas and the playing field are roofless. In fact, the billowing roof of the stadium is modeled on the wings of the snowy egrets. We clicked a few photos outside as well as inside the stadium for the sake of memories.
Walking from Urawa Misono Railway Station towards Saitama Stadium

Saitama Stadium 2002 as viewed while walking towards it

Hubby standing in front of the stadium

I am standing in front of the stadium

View inside Saitama Stadium

Hubby standing inside the stadium

I am sitting at our seat and waiting for the match to begin

The soccer match on 22nd November 2015 was played between the professional clubs Urawa Red Diamonds (or Urawa Reds) and Vissel Kobe. Both these clubs belong to the J1 League, which is the top professional soccer league in Japan. Since it was a home game for the Urawa Reds, there were so many supporters cheering for their favorite team from the unreserved home-seating area. The supporters wearing red shirts and holding banners, flags, supporter drums and other items started cheering even before the game began. The entire unreserved home-seating area looked red.
Unreserved home-seating area for the supporters and fans of Urawa Red Diamonds

An opening ceremony was held at about 1.30 pm prior to the start of the match. The players of both the club teams lined up on the stadium ground and each player was introduced with their brief profile flashing up on the scoreboard. Urawa Reds club team members wore blue jersey tops during the opening ceremony and red jersey tops during the match. Vissel Kobe club team members wore white jersey tops. Urawa Reds supporters cheered very much for their favorite team prior to the match as well as during the match. The supporters held up cards to make wonderful patterns in the crowd. The unreserved visitor-seating area of the visiting Vissel Kobe club was so small that we had to search for their supporters’ area for several minutes. Well, it was a home game for the Urawa Reds, so I guess it was bound to happen.
Arrangements for the opening ceremony of the soccer match going on

Urawa Reds players in blue Jersey tops and Vissel Kobe players in white jersey tops lined up on the ground during the opening ceremony of the soccer match

Scoreboard indicating the introduction of an Urawa Reds player during the opening ceremony

Another Urawa Reds player being introduced during the opening ceremony

Supporters of Urawa Reds holding up cards to make a wonderful pattern in the crowd

Opening ceremony is over. Urawa Reds players are now in red jersey tops and ready to play the match.

The soccer match kicked off at 1.38 pm. It was very interesting to watch the match. As the match progressed, the atmosphere in the stadium got hotter and stronger, and the Urawa Reds fans cheered non-stop for their team. The fans have an immense love for their team and an endless reserve of energy. Here are some photos of the first half of the match. In addition, I also compiled an animated GIF photo of the Vissel Kobe goalkeeper in action.

Several photos of the first half of the soccer match between Urawa Reds and Vissel Kobe club teams

It was the first time for hubby and me to see a soccer match at a stadium. Hubby is not that much interested in soccer but I have loved the sport ever since I was very little. Therefore, while hubby just relaxed and enjoyed having the snacks we had bought earlier, I loved watching the match. But the most fun part for me was enjoying the uniquely coordinated non-stop cheering and singing by the enthusiastic Urawa Reds fans. The unreserved home-seating area looked like a red colored sea of fans. Urawa Reds were leading 3-1 at half-time.
Unreserved home-seating area looked like a red colored sea of cheerful Urawa Reds fans

Urawa Reds fans and supporters

Hubby having snacks

End of the first half of the soccer match

Scoreboard indicating that the Urawa Reds were leading 3-1 at half-time

As noted earlier in this post, while there is roof over most of the seating arrangements of the stadium, the playing field is roofless. It was a very cold windy day and unfortunately hubby was not having any warm clothing on him. He was feeling very cold and so we decided to skip watching the second half of the game. Therefore at half-time, we left the stadium and again enjoyed looking at the architecture of the stadium building. Afterwards hubby clicked a few photos of me posing with life size cutouts of the entire Urawa Reds team as well as with the players Moriwaki Ryota and Kashiwagi Yosuke. These cutouts were kept right outside the stadium building and looked rather real. Anyway, later in the evening we saw on the television news that Urawa Reds club won the match by 5-2 goals that day.
I am sitting with life size cutouts of the entire Urawa Reds team

Kashiwagi Yosuke (left), I, and Moriwaki Ryota (right)

I am standing with the life size cutout of Moriwaki Ryota

Hubby standing in front of the stadium on our way back to the nearby railway station

Afterwards we returned to the hotel in Tsukuba City where we had stayed for the previous two nights also. On 23rd November 2015, we returned to Akita by Akita Shinkansen Komachi train. The train started from Tokyo Railway Station at about 12.30 pm and it took us about 4 hours to reach Akita Railway Station. Afterwards we took a bus and reached Akita Airport where we had parked our car for a few days. Finally after about an hour of car ride, we reached our home in Yurihonjo City. We had a fun filled and enjoyable three days holidays in November 2015.
Hubby and I sitting inside Akita Shinkansen Komachi train. We had lunch inside the train and hubby’s mouth is full of food.

Cute characters on our lunch box

Hubby having dinner at a restaurant located near Akita Railway Station

Nighttime view of Akita Railway Station area