Hockey in Niigata
This is the fastest and most exciting sport to watch in Niigata. In winter (like on a Friday night) come and see Niigata play ice hockey verses somebody else. Chad Parker #55, Canadian, often dominates the ice and has a showing of fans who cheer him on.
If you're good enough (perhaps you're Canadian) then you might even want to join yourself
Another good point to go, is that it is FREE.
Equipment: Wear clothes for the cold indoors.
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Jogging along the Shinano Riverside
This is not my cup of tea, but I see people doing it all the time. I'm more of a walker than a jogger. What makes jogging along Niigata's Shinano River riverside so attractive is that the walkway is paved with a soft material that is ideal for running on and has a lesser impact on the joints because of it's absorbant properties.
Equipment: You'll need shoes and running shorts.
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Sado Island Bike Race
There are 4 divisions to race in the Sado Island Bike race. For amateurs like me,
there is group D (40 km (not including all the extra kilometers you'll ride getting to the
starting location and back to the ferry)). After that, there is the more challenging
C group, the B group and finally the A group (120 km).
Advanced preparations and reservations are needed to enter the race. I think a few months before the race you have to register. Then get to Sado Island the day before the race so as to check in early at 5 AM/6 AM or so prior to the start of the race.
Equipment: To do the race you need to make advanced reservations. You will also need a good bike and helmit and entrance fees the day of the race.
Run around shooting your friends
I'm calling this a sport because we do a lot of running, ducking, diving for cover, and just about anything you can think of to avoid being shot. For lack of a name let's call this sport "running around shooting your friends". For those of you who've never tried this please don't knock it (it's not as dangerous as paint-ball which I'd probably do if I were living in the states).
The guns we use shoot small plastic balls (we use biodegradable ones) that sting like flicking yourself with your finger. Whereas in America you'd probably get killed for carrying one of these by a police officer using a real gun, we don't have to worry about that here in Japan.
The game is fun. We usually break up into teams of 2 of 20 people each and play various versions of capture the flag or whatever. The action is fast and the average person only lasts about 5 minutes before getting shot. SO, like real warfare if you wouldn't last very long. Once your 'dead' you usually have to wait about 10 to 15 minutes until the survivors on one team have accomplished the mission.
Equipment: You need to buy, rent, or borrow a battery powered or pressurized gas powered 'gun' or 'guns'.
There are a few stores here in Niigata were you can buy most of the equipment (one of which is Media Power near Josco).
You will also need ammo for your 'gun' or 'guns'. Please buy the Earth-friendly biodegradable type.
It's also a good idea to wear colors that won't make you stand out. And wear clothes you don't mind getting thrashed.
Bring some good shoes for running.
Finally, you must wear safety googles.
Watch or Play Baseball
The Japanese love baseball. In fact, they love it so much that some Japanese people think that baseball was invented by Japan. The Japanese baseball experience is a bit different but, worth seeing. If you get a chance you ought to go to a baseball game here. Perhaps, watch the Tokyo Giants play!!! But, better yet, why not play baseball rather than simply watch it. So my friends and I put together a baseball team.
There are actually 2 foreign baseball teams in Niigata. We play for the fun of it, but we also practice seriously. Overall, as a team we're not bad. We've won most of our games this year and even beat Niigata's 5th most powerful baseball team in a close game. Not bad for a bunch of gaigin!
Equipment: Naturally, you need a glove, a bat, a team, and baseballs.
Uniforms are optional, but you'll be taken more seriously if you have one.
By the way, if you're serious about baseball consider joining and playing with us.
We're always looking for new blood.
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Niigata has several bowling alleys
A number of Japanese people are fairly serious about bowling as a sport. If you're going to be a regular bowler then you're better off buying a pair of bowling shoes as it'll cost you a lot less in the long run to do so.
Equipment: It usually costs about 300 yen to rent bowling shoes. You can buy a pair of bowling shoes for about 3000 yen.
Big One Stadium
Several of the 2002 FIFA World Cup games were played here, magnificent arena and easy to get too, what will it be used for after the football I wonder....... More photos of our trip to watch Ireland play Cameroon on a travelogue.......
Watch a J-League Soccer Game
If you like soccer then you can get a chance to watch Niigata's J-League team, the Albirex,
play at Niigata's "Big-Swan" stadium. The stadium was built in conjunction with a Korean construction company and Niigata Honma construction company. It's a nice stadium to see a game in when the weather is good. I'd recommend going to a game in spring or summer when the weather is more favorable.
The stadium serves Japanese food, beer, and soda beverages. The atmosphere is fun and there are always seats available.
There's also a really good Italian style restaurant located about a 5 minute walk from the stadium. Just walk around the park and you'll see it.
Equipment: Bring a coat and umbrella if the weather is questionable. Niigata's weather can change quickly.
If you're here and able... Learn a martial art.
This sport is only recommended for those
who want to do this and have the time.
I've known a number of foreigners who've been here for a short time and who've become members of Toyano Taikukan (Gym). Toyano Gym has a number of martial arts programs including Judo, Aikido, and Japanese archery.
You'll need to check with the Gym's staff for time schedules.
Equipment: Of course if you join one of these sports, you'll need the equipment. For example, if you're going to do Judo, you'll need a Judo gi (robe). You can buy one and other martial arts materials at a martial arts shop located across from Hakusan Park.
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