Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rowing in Japan. YA RLY

There's a rowing club on the path next to the river. I saw a guy walking a single into the boathouse a few days ago. Hm, I thought to myself, I know how to row. I should go check it out.

So yesterday, I told my boss about wanting to look into the matter. He said sure, let's go see what's up.

We drove over to the rowing club today and walked inside. There was a middle-aged guy finishing his erg workout, so my boss started chatting with him. There was some staccato Japanese, lots of business cards flying back and forth, some bowing, and now I've apparently joined a rowing club. My first practice is this Sunday, 6:00AM. Wait, WHAT?

The strangest thing about the whole scenario was when I asked about coming in to use the ergs sometimes.
"So, I can come work out here?"

"Yes yes yes, you can come work out whenever you want!"

"Oh. So, who do I talk to in order to get permission to come in?"

"Nobody! You can just come in whenever you want!"

"Uh, don't I have to have a membership, and pay a fee to join? How do I get into the building?"

"No no, it's free. And you can get in any time! I think guys from the paper company come here in the morning. Just come in when they are here! Maybe if someone thinks you are trustworthy, they will give you a key!"

"That's their security?" I could scarcely believe this, thinking back to the dire warnings I received in high school and college--something along the lines of, you little bastards better make sure to lock the door at night, because each one of these boats costs more than your life.

"Ha ha," my boss replied, "you don't need much security for a place like this! Who is going to steal a boat? What would you do with it?"

Is this surreal to anybody else? This is what it's like living in a country governed by semi-socialist politics where the population refuses to commit crimes.


-M said...

I hope you'll be posting a picture of the boat house soon -- and what is the river's name???

d said...


d said...

Darned html; your head should be shifted to the right four spaces to behold the full effect of the comment.

Big Awesome Matt said...

"I try to get out, and they pull me back in."

I think the funniest part is that your curiosity of the boathouse and its rowers lead you to be suckered back into the sport. I think that actually happens quite a bit with rowing. Since former rowers see a boathouse, just stop in to check it out, and next thing they know they are recruited for a quad with practices at 4 am. However, I do believe this scenario shall lend itself to some great posts on rowing cultural differences between the US and Japan.

Additionally, it is quite disturbing that they don't care about their boathouse and boats' security like they do in America. Maybe they aren't as uber competitive as us in getting the best boat and making sure nothing at all happens to it for 2 years because supposedly that's the "golden age" of the boat. Maybe they just enjoy the fun of rowing....cause there is fun in rowing, right?

David said...

i think your japan junior rowing jacket will do nicely for practice gear.

Luke said...

On a completely unrelated noted, how much TV do you watch? I would be watching it 24/7 if I was in your position...

Nate said...

Crap! I didn't bring my Japan jacket. That would have been prime practice gear. Maybe I can trade someone a Brown uni for a new one!

But yeah, I actually think it will be pretty fun. It's always easier to make friends when you start an activity you don't suck at, so you aren't the annoying n00b.

All I really wanted to do was use their ergs. I hate running, and the bike I have here is too small for a proper work out, and the gym is really expensive.

Matt: I will give you a weekly "smile report." We can delve into this so-called "fun at rowing" concept more deeply. Like the dodo and the black republican, it might be a myth.

Nate said...

luke- I defy you to watch Japanese TV for 24 hours. you would come out a slobbering, twitching, mess. The Western mind isn't built to withstand the amount of noise/color/shouting that comes out of their TVs.

Tom said...

i practiced with a team briefly years ago in mutsu. they used a "knuckle 4" which is a heavy, keeled rowboat with traditional rowing oars. though a semi-passionate rower at the time, the knuckle 4 completely took the "joy (?)" out of rowing. maybe the early morning sunrises will put the "joy" back into rowing for you!

Lisa said...

Now, when you say 6am practice, will this involve you sitting in the same boat as many small, Japanese old men, or taking out singles with many small, Japanese old men? I think the former would be much funnier, but I think the latter would get you more praise and admiring looks. You do understand of course, that if you get river water on your workout clothes you will have to do laundry even more often.

Nate said...

I think it's kind of a free-for-all where you can do whatever you feel like. If there's enough people for an eight, fine. If not, singles.

Also, it might not be quite as hilarious as you think. Due to leaps better nutrition and the caloric increases from western dietary influence, coupled with the fact that I've never been tall for a rower in the first place, and you have a small difference in heights. The guy we met the other day was probably 5'10, so only a couple inches shorter than me. The deficit will be less than it was with me and all you gangly 6'5 bastards from school.

matthew said...

i'd love to see pics of the boats- are they all that different?