Wednesday 14 October 2015

Shimizu S-Pulse and Shizuoka Oden (Aoba Oden Yokocho) - Shizuoka Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I went on my third short trip in as many months.  I enjoy going to watch the Australian athletes who play professional sports here in Japan.  There is one guy, Mitch Dening who plays for the Yakult Swallows baseball team and I have been to watch him and the Swallows play on many occasions.  Shizuoka is home to the Shimizu S-Pulse J League football (or soccer, but for the remainder of the article I will refer to it as football) team and there is one Australian playing on that team, Mitchell Duke.  I had decided a couple of months before the trip that I would go down and watch a game.  I decided to make a trip of it and stayed there for a couple of nights.  I told quite a few Japanese people I know that I was going there and pretty much all of them said "Why??"  Well, I was about to find out that there are some pretty special places to see in Shizuoka!

My travelling companion on this trip was to be another good friend, Tetsuya.  Now Tetsuya had never been to a professional football game so he was keen to do that.  As with the trip to Utsunomiya we upgraded our tickets to the green car.  Now both Tetsuya and I are pretty big guys (although Tetsuya is a lot more muscle than I am!) and we were grateful for the extra space the seats offered!

We arrived in Shizuoka city just under an hour after leaving Tokyo, barely enough time to nap, and went straight to our hotel.  We had decided to stay at the Shizuoka Town Hotel, barely 10 minutes walk from the station.  The rooms were tiny, maybe the smallest hotel room I've stayed in in Japan at 12 square metres, but, again, we were not here to stay in the hotel room so it suited us just fine, and for just over 5,000 yen per night, I sure wasn't complaining.

We checked in and left our bags at the hotel (the rooms weren't available until 4pm and the game started at 3pm) and made our way back to the station.  After one false start where we got on the wrong bus (and were left with a 20 minute walk back to the station......) we got on the right bus and were off toward the stadium.  I recommend checking with the tourist information office just outside the station.  They will gladly and kindly tell you which bus you need to be on to get where you need to go.  We arrived at the station and it was already starting to fill.  

The only seats available were at the quiet end of the stadium, well away from the Ultra supporters and their non-stop, pumped up chanting.  I honestly don't know where they find the energy to keep it up all game long!

The first action on the field was the cheerleaders.  Honestly, if the sport you follow doesn't have cheerleaders, you need to petition the people who control the sport because they make sport just that little bit better!

As you can see, the Ultras are obviously influenced by Liverpool and their hardcore supporters!

The game started and before too long, Shimizu were down 3-0!!

And the Aussie had been substituted within 30 minutes!!  I was hoping it was purely a tactical substitution!  We left with a couple of minutes remaining in the game and with Shimizu losing 5-1.......  We beat the crowd to the bus and made our way back to the hotel.  By this stage, our rooms were ready and our bags had been taken to our rooms.  Now we might have been paying only just over 5,000 yen per night, but here in Japan, that doesn't mean that you lose out on the customer service!  No, it is still wonderfully there.  That's one of the tings I love about Japan.

After a quick nap we decided to head out for dinner.  Before coming to Shizuoka I had found out that Shizuoka is famous for oden (assorted meat, fish cakes and vegetables cooked in a broth) and there was a small alley that consisted of only oden restaurants, 20 of them in fact!  The street is called Aoba Yokocho and we had stumbled across it earlier in the day so we went back to find a place for dinner.  

Now, when faced with 20 restaurants all crammed into the same small place, all of whom specialise in the same cuisine, how do you choose which one to go into?  I can't answer that.....we just chose one and walked in!  Our choice for the night was Ofumi.

The owner of the restaurant was a lovely, crazy (in a totally good way) 80 plus year old lady that worked the restaurant and her crowd with the energy of someone 60 years her junior.  She knew about 10 words of English but had no hesitation using them!  She went around and helped herself to a drink from each person's bottle ("your drink and my drink!" she would say).  

It was an hour and a half of absolute entertainment and we left there very satisfied!  (Although I do think we were charged "tourist prices".  Now this rarely happens in Japan, but I'm pretty sure it did here at this place.  Maybe it was just an "entertainment" charge!!)

We went back to the hotel and went to bed.  I was looking forward to the next day, there were some adventures waiting to be had!

Thanks for reading part 1 of this trip.  Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed it.  I will start work on part 2 (there should be 3 parts to this series) soon.  Bye!


  1. Nice to see those street scenes and interior cafe shots.
    Those street lanterns really add to the atmosphere.
    I had wanted to go to Shizuoka,but never had the chance.
    One could spend a lifetime visiting every place of interest in Japan!
    Your blog gives me some fond memories of my time in Nihon.
    I bought some chocolates from Royce at Marion , yesterday.Made in Sapporo.They are excellent and beautifully packaged(like most things in Nihon);but depending on your budget;some might say expensive.
    Trade talks continue, but nothing exciting in respect to the Dons.
    I just hope they can get some excellent juniors and some really tough individuals and develop a true centre half forward. who can kick straight.

    1. Hi Noel,
      you are right, and a lifetime might not even give one enough timeI am continually introduced to more and more places by people who want to suggest their hometown or the secret place that they know.
      I keep my eye on what's happening during trade period. What is the Bombers situation like in regards to draft picks?
      Take care Noel.

  2. Well Jason,it appears Essendon has an excellent chance of gaining some real talent.

    They get picks :4,5,24 & 25 as their first 4 selections.

    The Melbourne Cup 3/11 will soon be stopping the nation. Fame Game a Japanese Horse is ran well in the Caulfield Cup,making up a lot of ground in the last 150 meters.Stewards were critical of it's run as it did appear to them, that it was saving itself for the "big one".It is a genuine 3200 meter stayer and not all that long ago, ran second in a big cup race there,flashing home from a long way back.I reckon the betting fraternity in Japan will be waging a small fortune on it and possibly the Aussie punters as well.Dewa mata and all the best,Noel.

    1. I like those two picks in the first 5 selections!! Hopefully we can pick up some good young talent.
      Melbourne Cup, I forget about these things being so far away. Let's hope that this Japanese horse makes it through the Melbourne Cup safely and in good health! I might put a couple of dollars on it too!

  3. The place I neglected to mention was Kyoto, where Fame Game flashed home for second place.

  4. Hey, thanks for a great read (I read the four posts).
    I currently live in Shimizu, and if you come through again, make sure you take a bus or water taxi (from S-Pulse, or the fish marker) from Shimizu station (bus) to Miho. There, walk along the beach and check out Miho no Matsubara. It's best in Autumn or Winter when you can get clear views of Fuji over the ocean. You can hire bicycles and ride along a path that parallels the beach. I actually think you could probably take the bicycle all the way to Nihondaira, or more so, the temple with all the steps leading to it from either Shimizu (7km + a few more) or Miho. But then you'd have to walk down the steps, rather than take the ropeway, to return. The water taxi, walk along the beach to Miho no Matsubara, and then the bus back is a nice trip. Walking even further along the beach (in either direction) past Miho no Matsubara is really cool too. Thanks for the info on Mariko and Utsunoya. I'm definitely doing that as a day trip! I've only been here a year. I'll need to find that oden alley in Shizuoka!

    1. Hi,
      thanks for reading. I live in Tokyo and said to many people here that I was going to go to Shizuoka city and Shimizu and most of them responded with "Why?!".
      I personally thought it was a great trip and really enjoyed it! I think you are lucky to be living there.
      Miho no Matsubara was on the list of places to visit but the air wan't clear enough to get a view of Fuji so I decided not to. Next time!
      I have had a read of some of your blog posts and going on what you write about and take pictures of, Mariko and Utsunoya (especially the Old Tokaido) would be something I think you would enjoy. Feel free to leave a link here when you do as I would certainly like to have a look at your post.

  5. Fish marker = fish market ;-)