I’m back!

Due to the San Francisco airport being a pile of dead Boeings right now, my trip to glorious Nippon had to start in Osaka after an emergency rebooking thanks to missing my initial connection because of SFO delays. So I spent a day in Osaka to start my trip. The highlight of the day was stopping by Osaka Castle. The castle itself was fine, a bit too crowded to truly enjoy, but the best part of the adventure occurred as I was walking up the steps to the entrance.

There was a guard on the steps guiding people between two lines for the elevator and stairs. When I approached, he looked at me, and appeared to react to seeing something on me. He then said “Go Giants!” I did not respond, as I was not paying full attention to him and it took me a second to process he had not only seen me but commented on my hat. He hustled over, pointed to my hat, said “Go Giants! Football!” again, seemingly testing that I knew what he was referencing. I got it that time, and responded “Yeah, Giants! Go Giants!” in kind. He then whipped out his phone and his background was a Steelers hall of fame logo.

I looked back at him and said “Oh, are you a Steelers fan? Go Steelers!”. Of course, I do not wish for the Steelers to go, as I do not care much for the Steelers, but I was not going to yuck his yum as he tried to bond with a big doofy foreigner. He looked back at me, said “I love the Steelers! Russell Wilson! Can’t wait!”. He then walked back to his post, gave me a final glance, smiled, looked up at the sky, shook his two thumbs up in the air and said “No more Kenny Pickett!” and then cackled. We exchanged one more “Go Giants” as we passed him and went about our day.

I’ve had a lot of random sports fan interactions in public in my life. It’s one of my favorite aspects of being a sports fan, seeing a piece of gear on a stranger and being able to randomly strike up a quick conversation with them about ball. This extremely unexpected encounter with a random Japanese man who loves American football, however brief it was, may be my favorite random encounter I’ve ever had. I can still see him smiling and cackling as he threw Kenny Pickett under a bus from half a world away.

Outside that, I only ever encountered evidence of American Football one other place in my two weeks. In Harajuku, a shopping area in Tokyo, there is a small cafe called Latte Pocket, where an artist specializes in making foam art on your coffee. I was waiting in line and at the payment counter was several small toys and figurines. A Pikachu, Kirby, several other Pokemon, other characters I did not recognize. There was one other figure. You’d be suprised to see who it was.

EDIT: A twitter follower has brought to my attention the Latte Art shop owner is apparently an NFL fan. I wish I’d known this going in, I would have gotten a football themed latte art instead of a Kirby.

Regular update schedule is now back. I did not engage with football at all otherwise on this trip and am still catching up on what I missed. If you have any questions about my trip, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.