This is my first instalment for the Japan trip. Of course we haven’t made it to the Radio event yet (since when have we ever been boring and gone straight to the event ?). It’s late on the night of our second night in Japan and I’m typing this on my laptop whilst lying in bed. Had a few ales, so the prose might be lacking, but more about that later.
Firstly, yesterday. A day of plane trains and automobiles. Well you know we’ve made it here, so at least it didn’t go completely awry, but there were a few moments there where events tried pretty hard to unravel. For instance the lovely time of the 6:05am flight from Sydney airport we’d managed to put so far the the back of our minds that the implication of having to get up prior to 4am hadn’t entirely sunk in till we had to set the alarm clock whilst chatting to my cousin Jenny at their place in Sydney the night before. Or maybe the fact that after heaving out of bed at that pre-dawn no-existent time of the morning, the taxi ordered the night before didn’t arrive, and continued to refuse to arrive, despite increasingly panic-ed calls to the Taxi company, 20 minutes later ! It’s perhaps just the way things go that it wasn’t till just *after* I’d woken aforementioned cousin Jenny (who had already had to cope with an very unhappy infant at midnight), that finally a taxi driver got around to accepting the job and rolled up outside. “Errr sorry Jenny, bye….”
All seemed to go smoothly for a while, till the puzzled girl at the Qantas check-in counter wanted to know what flight we wanted to check in for at that hour. We knew we were going via Brisbane, but nothing had made us wonder if the Sydney-Brisbane leg might be actually be a domestic flight. Yep, you guessed it…wrong airport ! So another taxi ride (the shuttle bus doesn’t operate that early). The taxi driver wasn’t at all keen either, as he’d now lost his first place in the taxi rank, carefully gained, he lost no time in telling us, by getting to the airport at 2:30am. Still, it’s a domestic flight, right ?, we don’t have to be as early for that ! We’re still going to be ok. Phew.
Ok, (boring), it was. A bit tight doing all the Immigration stuff in Brisbane, but made it through ok and we weren’t even the last on the Tokyo flight !
New Ontani Hotel organised for us at special discount rates by our man-on-the-ground-in-Tokyo, Douglas, turns out to be pretty spiffo, and though it’s expensive by our standards, it’s real real bargain for the centre of Tokyo. For those who have no idea who Douglas is: He’s an Aussie living here who used to foxhunt with the YQN foxhunt team from when he was a teenager.
Not only did he organise the Hotel, but we did the tricky business of booking all our train tickets for our stay here (we’re all doing slightly different things) this morning at the Tokyo Central station this morning, but also has been showing us around today.
Few use cars here (Douglas doesn’t own one) which means the public transport really has to work well, and it does. Much use of the subway and train system, and plain old walking, and we did a mixture of the tourist thing and lurking in the odd but amazing electronics (and amateur radio stores) district. The new stuff wasn’t particularly cheap but the second-hand could have some real bargains (in we had the room to carry it!). Good junk :). We also fitted in a pleasant river boat trip under the many bridges, a trip up a tall tower for the view and and a quick look at the the Roppongi (sort of red light) area this evening after dinner. Oh and Sue, we managed to hold Mark back from all sorts of evil temptations and he is safe in (his) bed.
Oh yeah and the beers ?
Well the beer glasses were kinda large, but Douglas assured us that lurching about in public is perfectly socially acceptable in Tokyo (afterall noone is driving home), and in fact is to be almost expected, and let me buy you another beer…
Weather is not too hot, but quite humid. Fine for walking around but could be hard going for the competition. Sleep time. <Coughs loudly to wake up Mark enough to stop him snoring…>
Back again for the 2nd instalment !
If all went well Douglas should have been able to send out the first one this evening.
Unlikely to have a chance to get onto the net myself till tomorrow (Monday), so no pictures yet.
Tomorrow we take the fast train north to Niigata and the Radio competition, but I’m getting ahead of myself !
Well it was a little warmer today at 32Deg, but according to Douglas perfect weather compared to last week when it was stinking hot & humid. Hmmm, well these things are all relative as it felt pretty hot & humid to me already !
Waited for Douglas at the subway station for a while till I timed out and went in search of a phone to call him. Seems it’d been a big night (4 bars worth) last night and he’d only managed to get home at 4am. We took pity and elected to meet up with him later this afternoon.
Sony building in Ginza: Mainly a showcase for Sony products. Aibo robots were cute but otherwise not as impressive as I’d been expecting. Lots of dull laptop displays and endless home-movie setups. Nice, but…
Back to the subway again (just follow the colour coding) and along the street leading to Meiji, the largest shrine in Tokyo. Temples are Buddhist, Shrines are Kinto and they happily coexist. Due to the public holiday this weekend we were lucky to witness a number of ceremonies where the gods go portable for a day in hand-Bourne shrines.
All the shrine-bearers wear traditional costumes (except two who seemed to be wearing only shirts (very odd)) and chant, drum and bounce the shrine along the way (must be a bumpy ride for the god!).
Grab some lunch along the way up the tree-lined street and meet Douglas who has emerged from his cave. Go to have a look at the Goth girls. For some reason they all like to dress up Goth and congregate in one particular square.
Many are weekend-only Goths who return to normality for work & school midweek. They were there again today, but not in huge numbers, possibly because of the warmth in the sun, or the public holiday weekend (some more non-posing-Goth things to do perhaps).
Even more disappointing was the poor showing of Elvis’s at another nearby square that Elvis calls his own. Yes a few there, but mainly sitting merely listening to Elvis tapes. It seems Elvis had left the building.
Despite this being a very central part of Tokyo, a large area of park and forest surrounds the shrine. Since it looked so shady and inviting we walked through up the forest path to the shrine. There was even a wedding while we were there, so we got to see a priest or two as well.
One of the interesting parts of life here are the Pachinko machine halls. These are like pokies, but involve launching metal ball bearings around what is a bit like a vertical pinball machine. Occasionally it pays out in yet more ball bearings.
Since gambling is officially illegal here, you can’t officially get money back if you turn back in your hard won boxes of bearings, but there’s always a loophole. You return your boxes and the staff are so happy you’ve given them back the balls that they present you a gift, like say, a teddy bear. You then take this gift to the attached shop next door where they suddenly take a liking to the teddy and value it at just about exactly the ball return cost (which is half the ball purchase cost). See ? No gambling at all.
Getting late now so goodnight from Tokyo.
Last minute update: NO INTERNET !!! If you are reading this it’s because I’ve managed to get someone to email if for me somehow, or it’s all over…..
Well it looks like there is no internet here.
Like…NONE! Not even international phones. I have managed to ask one of the Japanese organisers to email these out when he has a chance. Apparently he can drive a few km to get to a place his mobile phone card works in his PC.
Therefore I have no way of knowing if these emails are getting out or not, but I’ll continue assuming they are. Sorry no pictures possible till later.
The area is hilly and green with heavy forests. We’re all in a small village nestled in a valley, or to be more accurate, two separate villages. We are spread out a bit with about 2 countries per traditional Japanese rooming house. We’re in for the full Japanese experience with meals on the floor, sleeping mats and bath houses.
Mark is a bit dubious about some of the seafood and sushi, but there’s enough other things to survive 🙂 The rest of us are loving the food. We are staying with the chinese team. Korea is next door. The Yanks, Russia and Thailand are up the road a bit, and Mongolia, Kazahkstan and Japan are in the other village a few km away.
It is now the morning before the receiver testing (rather hopefully called “training”) followed this afternoon by the Opening ceremony. Hopefully we’ll have no problems with the 80m frequency being so low (3.52Mhz) compared to our usual 3.58Mhz.
Shimmer Shimmer Shimmer (lots of hand waving and clock hands speeding round) Wobble Wobble Wobble
Now for those of you who have no interest in things to do with the event, it’s possibly a good idea to tune out for a few paragraphs ! If you’re really boring scan through to the last paragraph to see how we did.
It’s now just after the 80m competition on Wednesday.
Unusual to have 80m first, but this is just what they have decided to do. Not a great deal to say about yesterday. Mark had to modify his sniffer a bit and Bryan had to fix a broken one to use as the team spare today, but thats about it.
The opening ceremony was held in an auditorium after the obligigatory hour of team photos (a typical Asian experience). After a few speeches (in both Japanese and English, except for Mr Parkes in English) which take forever, we had some traditional dancers. Mr Arisaka (Japan) interestingly decided he didn’t need to give a yet another welcome speech (Yay for Mr Arisaka), but it was noticeable how much longer the Mayors speech went in Japanese compared to English :). Somehow methinks we weren’t hearing the same stuff.
Team Leader meeting last night was typical of these sorts of things:
Russia, Kazahkstan and Mongolia are a bit worried about how close to each other the two frequencies (fox and homing beacon) are and are concerned their older Russian made receivers won’t be able to cope too well, but the Japanese organisers explained that frequency allocations in the narrow 2m band in Japan are very strict.
No water at the transmitters today, so I decided to carry a water bottle taped to a belt. Damm, I should have put in that Camel pack afterall !
They asked people to not turn on receivers when they get off the bus at the start as they’d be doing transmitter tests at that time. After the problems in Mongolia 4 years ago with this I “suggested” they hold off transmitter testing till all receivers had been impounded, and after some discussion they decided to do that.
The map is not to IOF standard, and most significantly has not runnability grading ! Actually we found out today in actual practice that anywhere on the map in white was invariably “fight” or deep green.
The event start turned out to be in a sports hall next door to where we’d had the opening cermony yesterday, a few km from here at out lodgings. I’m happy I didn’t have to wait too long. It’s hard not to get nervous. Mark and I had early starts so that Adam and Bryan can start early on Friday as they have to zip off to the train station straight from the competition.
One amusing thing at the start was a young Chinese (M19) competitor who elected to not even take his map with him.
Apparently he couldn’t read them anyway (I wonder if his name was Jack?). I was trying to discourage him from talking to me at the start line, not because I was being unfriendly, but because I didn’t want to be disqualified for assisting or something similar.
So the course itself ?
Essential to stick to the roads/tracks otherwise have to clamber through jungle. I did decide to at one stage on the way to my first transmitter to brave the “white”
on the map as I got to a dead-end with only a long way back around. It was tough. Hard to know if it was worth it, especially as I was swearing at the vines stangling my legs and broad leaf shrubbery up to my head as I semi-tumbled down the side of a gully.
The course setter had put a lot of thought into making the transmitter order important. Miss the couple of transmitters down the bottom of the map on the way and you were in for a lot of back tracking. Myself I was lucky to pick up the lower one (my route there wasn’t perfect though…see above) on the way.
The other low down one I didn’t have to get for M40. I then ran nearly the entire height of the map to get the most distant transmitter next and filter down through the middle getting the last 2 on the way to the finish, which was in the middle of the map.
This turned out to be the optimum route. I only had to contend with the jungle once more, but that time was really unavoidable. I drank all my water so I was glad I’d taken it along.
Bryan did the same route as I but taking about 80mins (there are no results as yet…see below). I took around 93mins (the cost of that bush-bashing early on). Our course distances measure at about 12.1 and 12.8km respectively.
Interestingly we both went within about 40m of the transmitter we didn’t have to get, so the overall optimum length is possibly something like 10-11km.
Mark found 4 of his 5 tx, taking about 120 mins, 13.5km, being sure to be back on time. His initial course was excellent, but he didn’t pick up that way up top distant one next so it made it too messy to get the last transmitter. Adam did a rather strange order for all 5 taking 19.6km and 130mins. It illustrates how important transmitter order was on this competition and the importance of early bearings for decision making.
It’s hard to gauge how well we’ve done in the team category at this stage as there are so many variables there, but we have a reasonable chance of a team placing for M40. I’ll promise not to delete the above line later when I find out the real results 🙂
<More wobbling and shimmering> Oh, use your imagination !
Results are up ! (bit lax not having them at the event really)
M40 Gold overall: Bryan Ackerly 1:17
M40 Silver overall: Bruce Paterson 1:32
(and 30mins onto the Bronze competitor from China)
M21 Silver Region 3: Adam Scammell 2:11 (5 TX)
M21 Bronze Region 3: Mark Diggins 2:01 (4 TX) Gold was taken by a Mongolian competitor, and above that two Kazahkstan competitors who don’t count to Region 3. Notably 2nd overall was Nikolay Tarrasov who was profiled in AO. He admitted to having an awful run, mucking up the order badly.
Of course in M40 we will also get the Region 3 team gold, but the surprise news is also gold team result for M21 since the 2nd Mongolian was well down the list and also had 4TX, so the addition of their two times was less than Adam and Marks.
Anyway great news for the Aussie team.
I’ll deliver this via flash stick to Mr Hirochi now…..
Hi again everyone,
Managed to get onto the net last night at another lodging hotel, but thats likely to be a one-off, so these will continue to be communications out of the great beyond.
Well we were more than a little surprised at the results for yesterday. What happened to the Japan home town advantage. It is also worth noting that both Bryan’s and my times were faster than the quickest M21 times even though we were doing M40. Ok we didn’t need to go actually into #5, but we both went so close to it, it would have been a few minutes at most.
Our Japanese host, Yoshimoro, who was a competitor at Ballarat but is on staff here, gave us a couple of bottles of Saki (rice wine) to celebrate.
Have a look at https://ardf.org.au and follow the International links to the Japan R3 championships site to get to the results. An article will appear after the champs at the JARL website http://www.jarl.or.jp
Today turned out to be an amusing tour day, but probably not for the best of reasons. The plan was to spend 4 hours in Niigata city (doing shopping, lunch etc, whatever you want), a couple of hours at a Theme park (?) and a barbeque dinner.
What it turned out to be was a few hours of mutual confusion as our young student guides tried to cope with 4 Aussies and 2 Yanks who all had this tendency to not strictly follow the herd. Things started to get better at the theme park, however.
The theme park to out to be a geriatric, somewhat rusting and dilapidated fun park which appeared to groan into oily activity at our arrival. We’d been given a book of tokens each to go on whatever rides we wanted.
Our hapless guide kept trying to enthusiatically guide us towards the ferris wheel and other such exciting activities. The theme of rusting machinery and cracked paintwork though a bit sad, started to became funny as we started to find how pissweak the rides were. The devastation of our young guide, (1st year University English student), when we expressed such disappointment that the rusted hulk of a chairlift (well past Arthurs Seat state) was broken was comical. When Mark pretended to start to back a dogem car out of a shed, ostensibly to ride it down the hill on a concrete drain, he became very alarmed. How was he to cope with these impossible Australians.
After that we really started to get into the swing of “pisstopia” world. Harley and Mark even went on a ride on the exteremely lazy ferris wheel. After waiting for their return we weren’t even able to use up our tickets as all the rides closed down, but we didn’t mind much. It’d been fun.
The barbeque with free Sapporo beer was great. Each table had a small burner with thinly sliced meat and vegetables.
A bit like the Australian version of a Mongolian BBQ. Lots of photos again, and unfortunately (but inevitabably) Kareoke. Still, free grog always helps 🙂
Just before Adam let off his fireworks from a 100Yen shop (ok, he was a bit drunk tonight).
I’m now in the team leaders meeting. Always a good time to update a report.
Everything will be much the same as yesterday for tommorrows competition, but there will be water at the controls !
Every morning at 6am we are woken by the large bell (which sounds like a gong) from the temple at the end of our street. Quite why it is struck 9 times none seems to be able to tell us !
Anyway it sounded the start to what turned out to be a really tough day. They made up for the lack of hills on the first competition by adding extra ones for this 2m competition.
Start was in a basketball court not far from Pissweak World we visited yesterday, and in fact the finish ended up near a little railway that runs around the theme park right in the middle of the map.
We fully expected to not do as well today as we knew the Japanese mainly practice on 2m (VHF), and it’s a harder band to ‘hunt’ on, especially in hilly terrain.
For me things started off very well, finding my first TX in just over 10 minutes, and even better I was up in the middle of the map after 1/2 hour, with only two TXs to get off to my right, and one above the finish to the left.
Unfortunately I chose the one road too early to head towards my 2nd one (I’d already passed the one I didn’t have to get off to my right). Rather than go all the way back down the hill to the main road again, I elected to bush-bash across a small bit of white to get to the right road…. BAD IDEA !!! I should have learnt from yesterday, but this was worse…far worse !
Half an hour later, sore, hot, and tangled in vines after climbing a cliff only possible in orienteering shoes I made it to *a* road, but which one I wasn’t too sure. I had to do quite a bit of weaving in the jungle just to get through.
It didn’t take me too long to recover and find TX 2, but I still wasn’t sure where I was. The roads kept refusing to fit and somehow I finally relocated myself right up the top of the map. How I actually got there I’ll never know, but since I now knew where I was I figured I’d better get that one above the start now (not my original plan) before getting the one on the far right. I did this pretty well. Then the slog across the top of the map turned out to be uphill, forever…..
Finally got to the peak and had 2 drinks before the return to the finish. It was a long way, and I had to run the entire distance, mostly on tarmac with O-shoes. Ouch ! Anyway, it took a while and I was completely soaked, but made it with 4 minutes to spare before my time limit. If only I’d gone one intersection furthur ages before and I’d have probably done the whole thing in 90 mins.
Bryan couldn’t find the one above the finish, and neither could Mark. Adam found all 5 in just under 2 hours.
So not as impressive a performance today, but we’ll still get some medals:
1 Nikolay Tarrasov, Kazahkstan, 1:16 (remember not in Region 3)
2 Adam Scammell, Australia, 1:58 (1st R3, 2nd outright)
8 Mark Diggins, Australia, 2:08, 3TX (Also 5th R3)
They will still get Gold for the R3 team as the other teams partners let the winners down.
1 K.Makita, Japan, 1:50
5 Brucer Paterson, 2:16
7 Bryan Ackerly, 2:09
Unfortunately we just miss out on Silver R3 team (by 1 minute !), so we get Bronze.
As for those Yankee dudes in M60 ?
Quiet Bob is happy with his Gold medal today, being the only M60 who found all required 3 TX’s in both competitions.
Harley came last in M60, skipping one Tx (got 2), but he did make an attempt at the 3rd putting his time after the others who skipped it straight away. They still got a team Silver.
Got to go now ! The girl at the other Hotel has allowed me to post this from her internet tonight.
I’m in a Hotel in Tokoyo, it’s morning, and since Douglas took us out drinking last night….. well you know how it feels 🙂
The Banquet and closing ceremony went well after the 80m competion, but it felt a little strange for Mark and I having to accept medals on Bryan and Adam’s behalf, as well as our own ! Each of us ended up with about 6 medals each, once you take into account both Region 3 and overall for both individual and team results. Started to get a bit heavy around the neck, and you’d jangle as you walked 🙂 The ceremony went for ages due to all the categories (you may recall at our Ballarat Region 3 champs we didn’t give team results for “friendship” or what Japan calls Open (not to be confused with M21) which cut it down a bit.
Anyway, best to take advantage of the free internet before we checkout so I’ve uploaded some pictures. It’s only for the first part of the trip so far since that’s all I’ve resized !
Mark heads home this afternoon and I head of to Kyoto.
Well this will probably be the last bulletin from overseas (this time!).
Since that’s the case I’d better mention a fwe bits and pieces I’ve forgotten along the way. After that Kyoto (for those interested).
I’m on a free internet connection, courtesy of an ignorant Japanese who has left their wireless network unencrypted ! Works ok from the Hotel, but down to 1Mbps as it’s a bit weak here.
On the bullet train back from Niigata, Mark and I measured our 2m (VHF) course distances (approximately). Mark did nearly exactly the same distance he did on the 80m competition (13.2km) for his 3 Transmitters (if he’d found #4 it would have been slightly less, but missing the distant #3 cuts down the km a lot).
I did just under 17km for my required 4 transmitters. No wonder I had only 4 minutes spare at the end ! I also measured what I considered to be a do-able optimum route (sticking to tracks mainly), and it was about 12km. That’s a touch long for a region 3 event and reflects the longer course times we’ve seen.
I guess the fact you have to use roads does lengthen the straight line distance considerably, more so than in a typical Australian setting.
Arto, from Finland, also wanted to mention that Bayside is well represented in Finland, and you will also see his picture in my Niigata album.
Well this is a complicated one. Lets take the 2008 World ARDF Championships first. Region 3 (asia pacific +) has been nominally allocated the 2008 World Champs, but withing Region 3 we have to work out who, and it has to happen within about a week from now.
China has requested to run it as it coincides with the Beijing Olympics, but wasn’t certain at the champsionships if they could. [Update: China says no]
Korea has also said they might be able to run them. We (Australia/WIA) have said we will run them if noone else can, to make sure they stay in Region 3.
Now taking Region 3 Champs 2007.
Korea has also said if China (or Australia) end up running World Champs 2008) then they at least want to run Region 3 champs. Also Mongolia have put up their hand again, as has new possibility Vladivostok (Eastern Russia). I’m not entirely sure the East Russian are actually in ARDF R3 yet (they have been trying), so maybe this is another way of asking ?
Now this bit is just me, so not really anything to do with the Aussie team any more, but included here if you’re interested.
Firstly, the cheap Hotel Douglas found me is great. All I need, and relatively big by Japanese standards. The bathroom is in a cupboard, but that’s to be expected. And the free (by accident) internet is a bonus. Email is the way to contact me now (but I have to check out tommorrow morning).
I visted Nijo Castle this morning since it’s across the road. The Shogun sure had a lot of meeting rooms ! The interesting things for me were just how massive all the timbers in the construction are, and of course the Nightingale floors that squeak to alert of an assassin. Would drive you insane in the meantime though ! I tried to see how they worked but alas couldn’t get to see under.
Since it worked so well in Prague a while back, I decided to hire a bike to tour around. This worked really well. I started to get Temple overload after a while, so I hiked up a hill behind the Kiyomizu Temple. There were little shrines all the way up, making me suspect this was a path to enlightenment or some such. It was a bit of a dissappointment to pop out at a paved road at the top then 🙂 The narrow cobbled streets near the slopes are fascinating, full of little shops selling gifts at ridiculous prices.
Kyoto Central station was where I ended up for lunch, and I couldn’t resist the yummy buns of many types in a French Pattiserie Cafe in the basement.
Later as I tired of temples, and even the ornamental gardens, I found a bike track beside the river and headed North for a decent ride.
This turned out to be a little microcosm of Kyoto life. The rear of the resturants that are on Pontocho Dori (a famous lane), the people riding, walking, practising instruments (guitar, trumpets, recorder, flutes…) and the some Japanese style BBQs where they bring a little portable griller to cook thinly sliced meat and veges.
Had to return the bike by 7pm, but afterwards went to a Kyoto Kitchen Resturant not far from here (just walked in hoping they had an English menu). Yes they did !
Tommorow afternoon I’m back on the bullet to Tokyo and Narita, so only the morning to do some more exploring.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the reports, and stay tuned for next year, Bulgaria World Championships.
PS: If you liked the reports or wish to make a suggestion, I’d appreciate if you could send me an email. I’ts good to know who is reading them !