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Archive for June, 2017

Playing in the world championship for Ultimate Frisbee (I’m not kidding)

The center field, not all fields are like this (there are 17 fields)

I am currently in Royan, France for the World Championship of Beach Ultimate (WCBU), a biennial event that brings the best Ultimate players in the world… or something like that.

“Wait, Sushi, you’re saying that you’re on the Japanese national team?”

Yes. I am playing on the Japanese Mixed Masters team. I am actually representing my country in SPORTS!

“What the heck is that?”

Ultimate is normally played in three divisions, Open (anyone can play which means almost all guys), Women, and Mixed where both genders play on one team at the same time (the only team sport to do this that I know of).

“And Masters?”

That’s the division where you have to be over 33 in order to play.

Parade around town before the opening ceremony

“… Is it actually competitive?”

Depends… The best players almost always play on the Open or Women’s team, not Mixed, and older people who can still keep up with the young ones play in the regular division, not Masters. Besides Grandmasters (where you have to be older than… I dunno, Bon Jovi?), Mixed Masters is the easiest division to play in, but it’s still very competitive with some very over-the-hill experienced players taking part.

“Did you even try out?”

Not at all. In fact, we barely had enough people to put together a team. Like many Mixed teams, we had a hard time finding enough girls, and I even contacted friends in different countries asking if there was a player that would be eligible. Definitely not how you would imagine a national team being put together. We also have eleven players, much less than the fourteen or fifteen that most teams are bringing.

“I’m guessing you have no chance of winning?”

The Europeans have an advantage since it’s much easier for them to get to France both in cost and time, and they have many, many more vacation days than us Japanese folks. In fact, it’s really hard for Japanese people to take so much time off and attend a tournament like this. This isn’t the best Mixed Masters team that Japan can field (I definitely won’t be on that team), and I don’t think we’ll be winning too many games, but we’ll definitely be having fun. How can you go wrong being on the beach in France after all?

“That’s true, it does sound like a good excuse to be on the beach.”

Well, we are going to be running around on the beach, not just hanging out… but yes, it’s a nice time off from the crazy 10 city, 16 flight, 27 day work trip that I just finished. It will also be cool to catch up with old friends from around Europe who are at the tournament. I already met some and I’m so happy they didn’t forget me!

“Will the results be online?”

Yes. You can check them out at http://wcbu2017.org/ and they even have personal stats at http://live.wcbu2017.org/player-stats/mmix/jpn (I’ve asked them to not use my real real name, but I can’t seem to get this changed). Furthermore, one of our games will be broadcasted online on day 4, this Wednesday!

The game is at 14:50 France time which is 05:50 in California and 21:50 in Japan (Okay, I don’t expect any of my American friends to be watching). The link for the livestream is: http://www.fanseat.com/event/3598

I think you have to sign up for a one month free trial to access this stream. If you just want to check out what beach ultimate looks like, the games on field 1 is available without any extra steps at: http://live.wcbu2017.org/

Some girl wanted to take a picture with us during the parade

“Okay, this look fun, how do I start playing?”

Are you in Kyoto or Osaka? Perfect! Come join us for one of our practices. Locations and details are on our website at http://www.kyoto-ultimate.com/ and please like our Facebook page while at it: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=kyoto%20ultimate%20鴨川ビックルズ.

Not in Kyoto or Osaka? Just Google your hometown and Ultimate Frisbee and you should find something. In big cities in countries where Ultimate is popular, there should be regular pickup games where you can just show up and start playing. In smaller cities or places where Ultimate isn’t so common, you’ll probably find a team nearby that you could join, and most teams are very open to beginners (how else would you start?).

“Any last words?”

Yes. Ever heard of Currier Islands? No? Check out their Wikipedia page. It’s the most Ultimate thing in the history of Ultimate. I swear you won’t be disappointed.

Also, so many thanks to my teammates who made this possible, especially the captains. I never, ever imagined I would be playing on a NATIONAL team for Ultimate.

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Around the wold in 27 days

I am currently in the middle of a 27-day, 10-stop business trip that circles the planet westward, starting from Japan, stopping over in China, going all over Europe, visiting Silicon Valley, and ending in Japan again (via China).

I had to make nine separate bookings covering sixteen flights (one got added during the trip), and I decided to add all the distances between the cities using: https://www.distance-cities.com/

Osaka – Shanghai 1,364.43km
Shanghai – Helsinki 7,384.47km
Helsinki – Frankfurt 1,516.29km
Frankfurt – Bologna 656.53km
Bologna – Copenhagen 1,247.71km
Copenhagen – Trondheim – Oslo 1263.67km
(Flight made it to Trondheim but couldn’t land and had to pull back to Oslo where I had to stay the night)
Oslo – Trondheim 391.92km
Trondheim – Oslo 391.92km
Oslo – Copenhagen 483.85km
Copenhagen – Frankfurt 671.98km
Frankfurt – Porto 1,669.32km
Porto – Paris 1,214.83km
Paris – Reykjavik 2,229.48km
Reykjavik – San Francisco 6,769.40km
San Francisco – Shanghai 9,890.01km
Shanghai – Osaka 1,364.43km

Total distance 38,510.24km (24,068.9mi)

This is of course the linear distance between the cities, flights probably took a slightly longer route.

Why am I doing this? Because I wanted to find this number out. My flight from Osaka departed on May 17th at 13:30 and my flight back to Osaka will be landing on June 12th at 21:30. That is a total of 26 days and 8 hours, or 632 hours. This means my average speed for this trip will be 60.9 kph (38.1 mph).

That’s not highway speed, but definitely not slow, and that’s the average speed for the entire time that I am away from Japan 24 hours a day. This also doesn’t include the moving on the ground, on all the trains, busses, and cars. Of course I can circumnavigate the world in 41 hours as the G650 did or in 90 minutes if I was in space, but that’s not the point of this trip.

Some of you may be wondering why I made nine separate bookings and not get an around the world ticket instead. I did look into that, but it wasn’t so easy. First, you have to stick to one alliance, and not all routes are well served by all alliances. It definitely would have added few more flights because of the lack of direct flights, and times wouldn’t have been as flexible. Second, there are a of rules in those around the world tickets that would’t have worked with my schedule, like not being allowed to go to the same city twice or limiting the number of flights in a continent. I don’t think any of the around the world ticket would have worked for me. Third, it wouldn’t have been cheaper. I booked all my tickets as direct flights (sometimes setting long layovers as stops), and I actually only used LCCs for two of the bookings, but the total price was comparable  to using an around the world ticket.

It’s been interesting telling people about this trip as the reactions I get have been varied but generally ranging between pity (“oh my god, why are you doing that to yourself?”) and envy (“that is awesome!”).

I might be overdoing it this trip. We’ll see when I get back to Japan. The crazy thing is that I have about 95 hours on the ground before I jump back on a plane to go to France for just under two weeks, this time for mostly personal reasons (more coming on that).

Photo taken in Trondheim, Norway, a city that is way too pretty.

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