Sorry. You knew this was coming.
If we are friends on facebook or if you are one of two people actively following my Twitter account, then you are aware that I played disc golf yesterday.
Not just any disc golf. Japanese disc golf.
If you know me, then you know I am gaga for disc golf. I have written about it extensively. In fact, if Lisa sent me packing back to America, third on my list of possible writing projects is chronicling my travels as I play every single disc golf course in Iowa.
I’m not lying. I have one-third of the book plotted out in my head.
Luckily Lisa spent $70 to mail my $20 discs to Tokyo. That’s how much she loves me.
My biggest concern before moving to Japan was whether or not there was indeed a course.
Thank heavens a google search led me to Showa Kinen Park.
After living in Japan for 4 months, I finally made the trip to the park yesterday, Sept. 24, 2012.
It was essentially a reconnaissance trip. As it turned out, I was only able to fit in 8 rushed holes on the 18-hole course.
But the journey is so much more fun to tell than the destination.
I left home two hours later than I intended. The main reason for the delay is football. Monday morning over here is Sunday evening in America. All of the football games were wrapping up and the internet was abuzz with highlights, fantasy scores and replacement ref calamities.
So I spent half an hour deciding if I should drop Jonathan Dwyer for Lance Ball. Five years from now those names will mean nothing to anyone. But yesterday they were as important as the goddamn Senkaku Islands.
Anyway, surprise, surprise, I left the apartment at 2 instead of noon.
Using the google maps app on my iPhone 4, I set out with my bag of goodies – 3 discs, 3 beers, 1 Power Bar and sunscreen.
Of course there were a few miscues along the way – the irony being fully appreciated that my last post was glorifying the wonders of my map app.
At my first train connection, I went to the wrong platform and had to wait 10 minutes for the next train. I then misread the directions on the map, and I missed my next stop. So I had to get off the train and backtrack.
The best part was I got to know Bubaigawara Station very well.
Isn’t that a great name? It’s like an outlying planet in the Star Wars galaxy.
I was also able to ask the ticket agent directions in Japanese. And I even understood his answer!
Anyhow, I finally reached Tachikawa Station at 3:30. It should have only taken an hour, but 30 minutes behind schedule is a bit of a victory for me.
From Tachikawa Station, there were signs in English leading to Showa Kinen Park. It was a quick 5 minute walk to the border of the park.
(Important note: It costs 400 yen to enter. Another long boring story about how I don’t understand Japanese and accidentally bought 2 senior citizen tickets instead of 1 adult ticket and then had to explain my situation to the lady at the gate)
It was a cool park.
There were landscapers everywhere manicuring the grass, gardens and shrubbery. There was a gorgeous view of the Japanese Alps mountain range in the distance. There was a lake with lovers rowing lovingly in rowboats.
As it turned out, not only was Showa Kinen Park a cool park, but it was enormous as well. And the disc golf course happened to be completely on the opposite side of the Akebono Entrance (where I was).
So I arrived at the entrance of the park at 3:30, and I found the course at 4. The park closed at 5. As it turns out, the Nishi-Tachikawa train station is much closer to the actual disc course.
But there was quite a bit to see along the way. The park has a barbecue area, bike rentals, basketball courts, soccer fields, horseshoe courts, bocce ball courts, a water park, children’s gymnasiums, and of course, disc golf.
Full disclosure: I could not find the front nine. That’s my bad.
I did get a chance to play the back nine – I mean – 8 of the back 9.
When I finally arrived at hole 10, there was a group of 6 senior citizens teeing off.
Since the park was close to closing time, I skipped to hole 11.
That was the main difference about Japanese disc golf, almost everyone playing was a senior citizen.
Otherwise the course was similar to a shorter version of Tourist Park in Cedar Falls. There are no woods holes and the tees are dirt, with wood blocks notifying the launch line. The length of each hole averaged 75 meters. While it appeared to be short and wide open, there were several low-lying trees strategically blocking the ideal flight lanes.
The course forced you to throw flat and low, which is one of the toughest shots to shoot accurately in disc golf.
It didn’t help that I was throwing like I was tossing around biscuits and gravy.
It was pretty embarrassing. These senior citizens were showing me up at my game.
I will return, and I will redeem myself.