Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Top Of The World (Unlike Sapporo's Soccer Team)

2nd June, 2010 - Today's post is a continuation of the survey of playground in Sapporo. OK, it's not like we're trying to go to every single playground in Sapporo (though sometimes it feels that way), it's just that if we go somewhere, we tend to look around to see if there's a good playground around the area. How useful is this to you, the 0.75 readers of this blog? Perhaps only marginally more useful than knowing the stock levels of the local drink vending machine.. However, it's perhaps not a side of Sapporo (or Japan) you might have seen that often. And if you have children, and you're thinking of moving to Sapporo (the odds of this being my 0.75th reader are astronomical), then perhaps it's sort of interesting.

Enough of the verbage. Let's get on with it.

Today, I'm writing about a small playground that T-chan took our son L-kun to. Not an overly remarkable playground (but not bad either). The playground is just across the road from the Ishiya Chocolate factory (hmmm - did I mention having a good reason to be somewhere?) and right behind the Consadole Soccer Club rooms (and pitch). 

View Sapporo

Now the Consadole Soccer Team is Sapporo's black sheep (or is that prodigal son?) that is still at centre of Sapporo's other sports dreams (the Sapporo Nippon-Ham Fighter Baseball team is the number one attraction). Now whether you call it Soccer or Football, it's a universal game. And Sapporo's Consadole's team is an almost universal constant in terms or relegation to the 2nd division from the 1st division. You gotta give it to them, even though they've been relegated three times since it's inception in 1996, they still keep plugging away (and of course, being relegated that many times also means they've been promoted that many times as well... taking the glass half full view).
Consadole club rooms
Consadole, as a name, comes from a very bizarre (alchhemist-like) formula where they took the name of the iconic Hokkaido draft horse (known as the dosanko), and reversed the Japanese syllables (do-sa-n-ko = ko-n-sa-do) and added a bit of Spanish exclamation (ole!) to the end. And all of that turned into Consadole. A word of advice... keep it simple, stupid. Sapporo's baseball team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters might be an odd name, but it at least well reflects their team sponsors, Nippon-Ham.

Enough about soccer. And baseball.

The thing I like about Japanese playgrounds (a clue, it isn't the ground cover) is the variety of play equipment. Back here in Adelaide, Australia, there's a certain... hmmm... predictability of the equipment you'll find. In Sapporo, there seems to be (outside the very small local suburban playgrounds) something equating to pride at the uniqueness or variety of their playgrounds.

There also seems an infinite variety of contraptions that make up the play equipment... and whilst some of it sometimes seems to have come from an SAS training course, I always feel impressed at the imagination. And the proof is in the pudding... or more precisely the eating of the pudding (what happens after that is perhaps best not discussed on this blog). L-kun loves playgrounds in Japan. Ok, he loves playgrounds everywhere, but he seems to love them particularly in Sapporo.

There's always a slightly different challenge, or skill to master. After all, there's only so many slippery slides you can go down... hold on... they have them too (but the in thing in Japan is the roller slide). L-kun's quite partial to those as well.

Neighbourhood playgrounds tend to (strangely enough) have neighbourhood children... and that means there's a certain degree of calm, or community and of camaraderie amongst the children. As a case in point, T-chan told me a story about this particular playground where L-kun was playing. L-kun's always a bit nervous in a new environment, but two older children decided to take him under their wing and look after him. It was nice to see children being so supportive of each other (and not just hitting one another).

But at the end of the day - it's all about having fun. After all... shouldn't that be what life's about (when you strip away all of the social convention, mortgage stress, peer pressure, and all sorts of other largely self-induced angst and anxiety). As we get older, we just seem to forget it, wrapped up in our own social balance statement.
Ok - I know that I most probably should rely on L-kun to pay for our house back in Adelaide, but I often wish I could take up a few more of his other skills. Like seeing the world for what it is. Naturally wonderful.

Now if only Consadole can show a little bit of wonderful as well!

(note - we'd actually been to Ishiya and the Consadole club rooms on our first trip to Sapporo in 2003 - but then it was covered in snow, and snowmen... and where we went into the Guinness Book of Records).

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