I am BACK in USA now, even HOME for two nights before going to Richmond, VA for the Dominion Riverrock Festival!
My time in Japan was wonderful. I loved the people, the food, the city… the overall culture was fascinating to me. This was my second trip to Asia (I went to China last fall for the Petzl RockTrip), and my first time beng in a large Asian city. First I went to Tokyo for a couple of days, and then to Osaka for the International Lead Master. In Tokyo I had the luxury of locals to show me around and to introduce me to various “traditional” Japanese cultural trends, noteworthy food-stops, and fun shops. While in Tokyo, Maja Vidmar of Slovenia and I shared an apartment. Despite being sick from either jet lag or food poisoning, or likely a combination of both, I had a great time seeing the city and meeting some people from the climbing community there.
On my second night in Tokyo I visited “Climb Fits,” and then went for a sushi feast at a nearby restaurant.
The next morning Maja and I traveled to Osaka – about a six-hour transit – for the competition. When we arrived in Osaka, it was obvious that this city was just as, if not even more, captivating as Tokyo. Tokyo is the largest city in Japan, and Osaka is the second largest. Upon arriving, we checked in to our hotel rooms and met the other competitors who were all booked at the same hotel. Our hotel was very city-central, so it was easy to explore the city, find good restaurants, and buy foreign-looking tourist objects that will most likely result to added clutter in my room, but that is okay =]
One of the fascinating sights that we visited was the Osaka Castle, situated in a gorgeous green park that was artistically groomed and kept quite pristine.
Saturday evening all of us competitors attended the technical meeting and the competition reception meeting. We had TV interviews and took pictures at the venue, then learned more about the event. The competition itself was quite strange. Instead of having a format like that of a normal World Cup in which there are three rounds – Qualifiers, Semifinals, and Finals, there was only going to be one round, on one vertical route. All or nothing!
While the format of the competition itself was strange, the spectator turnout was massive because the competition took place in the city center at an outdoor-venue. There was a parade and various markets below the competition wall, and the competition itself was broadcast on TV-screens everywhere. The organizers of the event arranged posh lounge areas where we could decompress after our climb, have food and drinks, and watch the other competitors.
During warm-up I felt ready to compete. I had been a little nervous because really I had not climbed much the past two weeks with all of the travel and the bad weather while I was supposed to be outdoor climbing, and then being sick, but nonetheless you can’t really think about these variables when competing – you just have to convince yourself that you are prepared whether really you are misconceiving yourself, or if it is true! The route did not feel hard to me – it was on an artificial wall, so different from what I have been doing lately (climbing outside), but being climbing nonetheless, I didn’t really feel as though it was so challenging. Unfortunately on the last move of the route I got a little bit of tunnel vision with the top being in sight and I forgot to move my foot up to make the final move and I slipped off. I was disappointed in my ending performance but not too upset because I knew that it was a strange format and I didn’t really feel like it was my lack of preparedness that kept me from sticking the last hold. Being a one-route, one-round competition, my end result was 5th after time-breaking ties. Oh well! At least every one of the competitors earned their invitations due to their top performances in the World Cups, so the women that beat me are my strong, international competitors. And my friends, which made the experience all the more fun!
For the closing event the organizers and sponsors of the event arranged a grand ceremony and while I did not recognize the party-goers because for the most-part besides the athletes, they were all Japanese, apparently we were in the presence of some quite famous people, including the Mayor, Japanese celebrities, and Japan’s “top comedian” who performed. In Japanese…
ALSO, there was an extensive Japanese feast including a full tuna prepared Sashimi style. Absolutely delicious. I felt as though I was going to turn into a fish myself though, after all the delicious seafood I had!
Now I actually have two days at home before I travel to Richmond, VA for the Dominion Riverrock Event. I will follow up with more information about that in the next few days, so check back later!
Sayonara Japan, Arigatou!