The majority of J1 games tend to be on Saturdays when I’m working but there are a few rounds played on Sundays. I got lucky with the Nagoya Grampus match being against my team Kashiwa Reysol on a Sunday in May and similarly Reysol were on the road at Jubilo Iwata on Sunday August 19th. Their Yamaha Stadium was the fourth and final stadium I wanted to visit in Shizuoka Prefecture following trips last year to Shimizu S-Pulse, Fujieda MYFC and Azul Claro Numazo.
This stadium only holds 15,165 seats so for the first time ever I actually bought a ticket in advance and went to stay at my parents-in-law’s place in Izu the night before. I spent the afternoon of the game checking out a few sights in nearby Hamamatsu and was at Iwata Station just before 5pm (two hours before kick off) where I soon managed to catch a bus to the stadium. It cost 230 yen and had to be paid in cash. No Pasmo or Suica cards I’m afraid. The journey took about 15 minutes and dropped us off just up the road from the stadium.
I decided to go in just after 6pm but, as is often the case at Japanese stadia, it was impossible to see an empty seat as people get in really early here to reserve seats. Others put bags on the seats next to them meaning that without confrontation it is difficult to know whether the seat is for someone or not. As a result I just stood at the back which was mostly fine but the goal-line wasn’t so easy to see!
It may not be a state-of-the-art modern ground but the Yamaha Stadium is a great, little rectangular place where the fans are all so close to the pitch. Jubilo’s most famous player is Shunsuke Nakamura; perhaps the most celebrated player to have graced the shores of Great Britain following a very successful stint up in Scotland with Celtic between 2005-2009. He wasn’t involved in this match at all. I’m not sure if that was due to injury or just owing to him now being 40 years old!
Poor defending let in Jubilo for a couple of early goals from Matsumoto and Ōkubo as the home side raced in to a two goal lead inside 13 minutes. A gilt-edged opportunity for Reysol moments later could’ve made it a bit different but Yusuke Segawa fluffed his lines and put it wide. Watch the video highlight below to see what I mean!
Reysol had a couple of half chances in the second half to get back into the game but it just wasn’t going to happen and, as the game reached the latter stages, my mind was almost purely on getting back to the station in time for 9:32 pm which was the last train for me as I had a long way to go back (120 kilometres plus!) after that. I knew there were buses going back to the station but I didn’t know where they were going from and when they would leave. I had to put it all back into my own hands so decided to leave as soon as the injury time board went up. I ran what was a 47 minute walk in about 25 minutes! I wasn’t even the only one as one other guy was doing the same and typically as the station came into sight the fan bus pulled in just ahead of us! Oh well, good exercise and all that!
Final Score: Jubilo Iwata 2-0 Kashiwa Reysol
BONUS: The other Reysol games I went to was just five days earlier (Wednesday 15 August) and I was joined by Scottish Neil for this one. The last time I went to this particular fixture in 2015, the match was held up by an earthquake. Furthermore, it was at a critical moment as it happened just seconds after FC Tokyo had been awarded a penalty. Recent Newcastle signing Muto kept his nerve and stroked home the winner to give them a narrow win on that occasion. This time though, Reysol came out on top as Segawa secured a 1-0 victory on 77 minutes with an overhead kick from close range.
Extra BONUS: Can’t find anywhere too suitable to post a few pictures from FC Tokyo U23’s versus Cerezo Osaka U23’s on Sunday 14 July at Ajinomoto Field Nishigaoka (Japan Institute Of Sports Sciences Soccer Field) which is just about the only ground that I can cycle to from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi. The match finished 3-1 to the visitors on a very hot evening just a few hours before the FIFA World Cup Final.
Click here to read ‘Day Trip To The Toyota Stadium!’
Click here to read ‘Away Day Travel To Ibaraki Prefecture’
Click here to read ‘Attending Two J-League Matches In One Day Pt I’