Athletes Pouring Into Village
With coaches, athletes and staff pouring in by the busload, Athletes' Village is rapidly filling up. By Saturday approximately one third of the more than 6,000 expected athletes will have already checked into their quarters, and delegation members will continue arriving until the 25th. Although some delegations trickle in in small groups, others arrive en masse. On Saturday the Hong Kong delegation arrives, and as we go to press almost half the 400 strong U.S. team has checked in.
In the village the mood is relaxed and friendly. Outside the service center, a British basketball player called out to a new friend, "Come on by. We're just hangin' out." Inside, the 25 meter long bulletin board is already covered with messages. While Chefs de Mission met with school supporters and district officials, athletes went about their business - between workouts they went bicycling, cooled off in Hakata Bay or just wandered from shop to shop.
By the entrance to the beach, Michael Curcija, Australia's "A" team striker chatted to the press as he watched a teammate painting a kangaroo on the village mural. "The neck needs to be longer," he advised.
It looks like the athletes are making the most of the few days remaining until the games begin.
Going for the Burn!
Bending and stretching to music from the radio is a regular feature of the Japanese morning. If you happen to be walking by a schoolyard, park or company office early in the morning, you'll see people of all ages loosening up to begin the day.
The Atago School District Universiade Friendship Campaign Promotion Association (try saying that in one breath!) invites all athletes to join them for aerobic exercises in the Event Plaza beginning at 7:15 every morning.
Stop by to zing your day into high gear! Don't take our word for it --ask Wolff Roberts (Canada) or Ramundo Merino Leon (Mexico) who dropped by Thursday morning. "It's fun. I feel my body softening already!"
Portrait of a Lady
When Deputy Village Mayor Sekiko Ogata started out on her banking career thirty years ago, it was lonely even at the bottom. "The few working women there were tended to be single and quit once they got married. I was an exception; I was already married when I started work, and I was determined to stay the course."
Her determination paid off in 1986 when she became the first ever female director of a Japanese bank, but Ms. Ogata agrees that the glass ceiling is still lower here than in many other industrialized countries.
Nonetheless, she is optimistic about the future for women in Japan and feels her work with Fukuoka's first women's center, Amikas, and her upcoming trip to the Beijing International Forum on Women's Issues will clear a path for those who follow.
As for the Universiade, a typical day will involve welcoming the teams as they arrive, and receiving courtesy visits from V.I.P's both from Japan and abroad.
Ms. Ogata would like to see herself as the "Mother of the Village," someone who is never too busy to stop and chat with the athletes. In her capacity as Deputy Village Mayor she has gone out of her way to ensure comfortable accommodations for the teams, and along with her volunteer group, the Soroptomists, took time out to make the paper cranes which add a personal touch of welcome in all the rooms.
Her birthday, by the way, falls on September 5, as the village closes. "I'm waiting, no, hoping, something nice will happen," she hinted, breaking into a big smile before she hurried off to her next appointment.
What Do You Know About Fukuoka?
Although Fukuoka is the biggest city on Kyushu Island, it is not well known outside Japan. But if you take the trouble to explore it, you will find Fukuoka to be clean, cultured and convenient, a thriving metropolitan center that is also rich in natural beauty. The first-time visitor will be impressed by the high-rise buildings, Fukuoka Tower, Fukuoka Dome, and the impressive backdrop of the Chikushi Mountain range.
Fukuoka is 336 square kilometers and has a population of 1,270,000 as of January, 1994. It is the largest city in Kyushu and the eighth largest in Japan. It is also a vital center of government, commerce, transportation, education, culture and fashion.
Located on the periphery of the Asian continent, Fukuoka hosted the Asian-Pacific Exposition in 1989. Since that time it has created an annual Asian Month during which it sponsors the Asian Film Festival, and this year a chapter of ASEAN met here.
Fukuoka is proud of its role as the educational center of Kyushu. There are numerous universities and colleges in the area, and its student population of 70,465 ranks it third in Japan.
If you are visiting Fukuoka for the first time, you may not be aware of the city's water shortage problem. Last year, a record breaking drought brought severe water rationing to city residents: for up to 12 hours a day water was shut off. But now service has returned to normal, so the athletes can shower whenever they want.
The Japan Experience
Program Schedule for Aug. 20 thru 24
Flower Arranging: Aug. 22 (Tues) 15:00-16:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Ceramics: Aug. 24 (Thu) 16:00-17:00 / 17:00-18:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Japanese-style Calligraphy: Aug. 21 (Mon) 18:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
The Fujiyama (make your own T-shirt): Aug. 20, 22 (Mon & Tue) 18:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-B
"A New You"Corner (wear a kimono and have your photo taken): Aug. 21-31, 16:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 2F-C
Origami (paper folding know-how): Aug.18 - Sept. 2, 14:00-21:00, Cultural Exchange Information Center
Video Theater: Aug. 17 (Thu)-Sept. 2 (Sat), 10:00-12:00, Disco
Disco Hours: Aug. 16 (Wed)- Sept. 4 (Mon) 18:00-23:00, (closed Aug. 23)
*From 13:00 to 17:00 the disco will be used as a karaoke room for singing.
Beach Stand: Aug. 17 (Thu)-Sept. 4 (Tue) 11:00-19:00, beach
Seaside Hair Salon: Aug 24 (Thu)-31 (Thu) 11:00-19:00, beach
Fukuoka City Tour "A" (full-day, Fukuoka City Art Museum"Fukuoka City Museum"Fukuoka Tower"Marizon"Marine World) Aug. 22 (Tue) 9:00-17:00
Fukuoka City Tour "B" (half-day, Yusentei Garden"Fukuoka City Art Museum"Korokan Ruins & Castle remains) Aug. 22 (Tue) 13:00-17:00
Historical Sites (full-day, Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine"Itazuke Yayoi Village"Kushida Shrine"Hakata Machiya Folk Museum"Tochoji Temple"Fukuoka City Museum) Aug. 22 (Tue) 9:00-17:00
*Applications for each tour will be accepted 4 days in advance until 12:00 noon of the day before the tour.
Small Delegation Touched By Big Fukuoka Welcome
A warm display of vintage Japanese hospitality by Fukuoka supporters overwhelmed the three member Bangladesh delegation Friday, causing Chef de Mission Ammraquib Quoraishi to declare himself "moved." Having scarcely arrived in Athletes' Village, the Bangladesh team was whisked off to a warm reception organized by the Takamiya Koku School District. In the midst of a throng of well-wishers, Superintendent of Schools Yoji Harada presented the Bangladesh team with an official invitation to the school district's summer festival and the Chuo Ward Exchange Festival to be held in Event Plaza. The invitation was inscribed with elegant calligraphy and presented in the form of a traditional Japanese scroll. Mr. Quoraishi, obviously impressed with the outpouring of Fukuoka support, said he would keep the scroll as "his treasure."
Athletes were mobbed Friday by adoring fans from the Hara-Chuo Junior High School Brass Band. Most of the girls confessed that they didn't know who was who when asking for autographs, but this didn't dampen their enthusiasm. "We have to leave at 2:45, so I've got to get as many as I can before then," said one. The girls are hoping that at least one of the signatures will turn out to be a medal winner's.
Athletes, meanwhile, seemed bemused. "This has never happened to me before," said South African swimmer, Mark Collie.
In the Public Eye
The pictures tell the story:Canadian women comfortably participate in public events while Japanese women are still taking a back seat. Like the kuroko in Kabuki who arrange props for the actors but do not speak, Japanese women do not feel comfortable competing for the spotlight with Japanese men.
Medals Arrive--Get Set!
Unique in shape, color and material, the medals for the 18th Universiade (shown above), have been created by one of Japan's foremost jewellers. Their distinctive shape is modelled on "Magatama," the gems worn as personal ornaments by ancient rulers of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Japan. Excavations of ancient tombs have uncovered large numbers of these artifacts in the area around Fukuoka, making the "Magatama" a perfect symbol for the city and its games. The shape might remind you of the island of Kyushu, or perhaps even a teardrop. The ribbon, made from traditional woven-silk, "Hakataori," adds yet another uniquely Fukuoka element.
The base is traditional black laquer with plates of gold, silver, or bronze in the center. "THE 18th UNIVERSIADE 1995 FUKUOKA" is engraved on the metal along with a "U," the symbol of this year's Universiade. About a thousand of these medals will be awarded this year, so good luck, everyone!
South Africa on the World Stage
Some members of the South African team met only days ago, but already they look like old friends. After the official welcome ceremony they all burst into Shosholoza, the Zulu song that became the new nation's sports anthem during this year's Rugby World Cup. There's a real buzz of optimism and excitement in the team--whether they're proudly waving the new national flag or practicising the 'S.A.' (South Africa) dance.
If you've seen Juzo Itami's film "Tampopo," you'll know the Japanese are serious about ramen (noodles in pork broth). The Shibaraku chain claims to be Fukuoka's oldest purveyor of Hakata noodles and draws a real cross-section of townspeople. But be warned - the interior is basic - the clientele is interested in chowing down - not the decor. Give it a shot - and remember - slurping is polite in Japan! Location: Nishijin Shotengai, behind Iwataya Department Store. Tel: 821-4869
Places to See
Nishijin Shotengai (Shopping arcade) is a great people watching spot - day or night. Go early in the morning to catch the fish and vegetable stalls or in the evening watch everyone out for a stroll. If all the walking makes you peckish, check out Horakumanju - really popular with Fukuokans. Japanese cakes, 70 yen apiece (hope you like bean paste!) and the traditional summer treat Kakigori - syrup over crushed ice - yummy!
Getting there: Subway to Nishijin. The arcade runs east-west behind Iwataya Department store.
Off Campus is a popular student hang-out with a fairly international crowd. Prices are reasonable and there's a good range of cocktails.
Amimoto: Space is often a problem in Japan, but this is somewhere the whole gang can go - there are even some private tatami-mat rooms off to the side. Bright and cheerful, traditional Japanese interior. Sample normally expensive sashimi and sushi quite cheaply.
Location: Both in Takami Bldg
Off Compus Tel: 843-7922
Amimoto Tel: 831-8777