Golden Week was a really busy time for me. I had a lot of work but I made time to go see my recent obsession, football. As you may know, I have been growing as a fan of Jubilo Iwata. They are a team from Shizuoka, next to the headquarters of Yamaha. They actually started off as a Yamaha corporate football team but when Japan created a pro football league, Jubilo Iwata was born. On May 5, 2018, I went to one of the best stadiums in Japan to watch Jubilo take on Kashiwa.
Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium is a true football fan’s stadium. It is small, rectangular, and there are no bad seats in the house. You are so close to the players that you can almost touch them. In fact, it can be dangerous as you could spit on them as well. Many stadiums in Japan are based in athletic fields with a track around the outside. This means you are situated pretty far from the pitch, but Kashiwa Stadium was designed with football in mind. It has been a dream of mine to visit this stadium as I had heard that it was the best stadium in the Kanto area, and I can understand why.
Getting to the stadium can be a little difficult. Like many other stadiums, it takes about 20 or 30 minutes to walk there from the main station. While Kashiwa Station is pretty easy to get to, it is a little difficult to find your way from the station to the stadium. It is similar to Omiya’s NACK5 Stadium in the way that the most direct way is also the hardest to find as it is a small road. The major roads are the easiest way to find the stadium but it adds a lot more time to your walk. Following the crowds or people wearing uniforms is always the easiest way to the stadium, but not everyone is going the fastest route. Once you learn the route it is pretty easy to get to and from the stadium.
The stadium is located in a large park and there are 2 major entrances. The visitors’ entrance is a little farther from the station and there is a grass field for people to line up. There are no seats behind the goal on the visitors’ side and it is all free seating. The grass field is designed so people can wait in an orderly fashion. You really have to go early if you are in the free seating area. I was lucky in that I had reserved seats in the visitor section, so I had no problems going a bit later than most of the people.
The visitors’ area was a little cramped, as many visitor areas of football stadiums are. The food stand was a little sparse but nothing I didn’t expect. They also had a single merchandise booth. Considering the number of people there, it was tough to get anything in the lead up to the game, but at least there were options.
The game itself was really good. With fans on both sides cheering their teams on the entire time it was a great experience. Being so close to the crazy fans was a first for me. I could hear their chants clearly and watch their movements as well. All of the fans in my section were all pretty big fans as well, since the game was sold out in minutes. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the sea of yellow of the home fans was also an amazing sight.
The game started off somewhat slowly but things got faster and faster. My view was not very good but I could still follow the action closely. Around the 14 minute mark of the first half, Jubilo made a crucial mistake and Kashiwa was able to capitalize on it. They came charging and did a cross pass that went in. It was still relatively early in the game but the goal was deflating. The crowd took a few minutes to recover but soon enough they were cheering even louder to root their team on. Just 9 minutes later there was a scramble on the Jubilo side as their midfielder Matsura was dribbling like magic. He was able to move forward towards the goal where he passed to the centre where Yamada was waiting. Yamada is an old member of Jubilo and a true marksman of the game. He effortlessly shot it in and it was his first goal of the year. Jubilo had been having trouble getting goals this year and it was great to see them achieve their first goal.
The second half was just as exciting. Kashiwa was playing very hard and it was hard to watch. They took over the game and kept possession more than Jubilo. It was very scary to watch but Kaminsky, the keeper, was able to keep Jubilo in the game when it counted. The defense was doing a good job at slowing Kashiwa down and letting themselves regroup, but it wasn’t enough to get momentum back on their side. By the 39th minute of the second half, Jubilo capitalized on a mistake by Kashiwa and made a rush. It was one man on the side with two others from Jubilo making a rush for the net. There was a centering pass to the net and Kawamata headed the ball in. It was amazing to watch and completely expected from my vantage point. The crowd erupted in a roar of cheers that I had not heard in a long time. It was so exciting to see everyone so happy and Kawamata celebrated with the fans that went wild.
The game ended with Jubilo winning 2-1. It was an amazing experience and I hope to go back to Kashiwa again. I knew they had a great stadium but I never knew how good it was till I actually went there. The only bad point was the fact that I was sunburnt. I had forgotten my sunscreen and I was sitting in the hot sun for the entire game. Even with a halftime break to the washroom to cool off, it wasn’t enough for me. I will have to remember my sunscreen next time but you can be sure that I will be back again.
Japanese Football aka Soccer
- Jubilo Iwata VS Shimizu S-Pulse
- Urawa Reds VS Jubilo Iwata
- Jubilo Iwata VS Urawa Reds
- Jubilo Iwata VS Omiya Ardija
- Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium