story relates to the Hanshin Tigers, a famous
landmark in Osaka, and my way of killing time on the night of Friday June
14th 2002. If you have the time and want the background to this story then
[go to that page and then scroll down to "Wild scenes at Dotonbori" and read from there]
So I went to the Shinsaibashi area of Osaka (near the Dotonbori river) to watch the USA vs. Poland game. Needless to say I got bored pretty quick with the poor USA showing [is your dad Polish? I think I remember that from somewhere]. So at halftime with the USA down 2-0 I left the "American Beauty" bar and started walking around. Well this was like 10pm and the streets in that area were completely jammed packed with Japanese Soccer fans. I mean I couldn't even control where I was going really (not to mention I had no direction anyway and didn't care where I was going). So finally I end up on this bridge filled with people all chanting "Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!" It was just filled with energy and excitement and I was immediately filled with giddiness and joy. So before long (and perhaps all the karaoke I'd been singing before had something to do with it) I too was chanting away with the rest of the horde oblivious to all the police offers blockading the bridge. Then I looked up at the surrounding buildings and started to recognize my surroundings.
The futuristic looking Kirin Building... the Neon Glow of all the signs along the... ahh... the Dotonbori River! [which you can see in the movies "Blade Runner" and "Black Rain" etc]
Then I noticed the people standing on the rail of the bridge. Then I noticed them jumping off. Suddenly I was brought back to that Hanshin Tigers story from their 1985 Japan Series victory and I decided that I wasn't going to wait around for the Tigers to win the series again. I was going to have my Dotonbori River experience right then. So I clambered my way to the front,and after I climbed up on the rail some people actually handed me a pair of Hanshin Tigers megaphones and I started screaming "HAAAAANNNNNNNNNSHHHHHHHIIIIIINNNNNNNN TIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGEEEERRRSSSSSSSS!" To which the crowd (there were hundreds of people all crammed onto that little bridge) started chanting "Let's go Georgie! Let's go Georgie!" [which is the chant Tigers fans use when the Home Run Leading American George Arias goes up to bat] And once the fever reached a level to my liking I jumped into that putrid smelling cess pool of a river.
Once in the first thing I wanted to do was get out. I mean that water was NASTY. I had images of dead bodies and poop floating by and had no desire to stay in there any longer then I had to be. The problem was the ladder on the wall climbed up about 3 feet of the 8 foot wall. So I had to climb that ladder and then while hanging on catch a towel that a guy was hanging down and then that guy who was like 1/3rd my size was going to hoist me up. Well I tried it anyway and only succeeded in ripping the towel out of his hands. The people on the bridge thought this was hilarious of course (not that I didn't) and started the "Let's go Georgie" chant right back up. After about 5 or 6 tries I managed to get the towel back up to the guy. Then I tried climbing up the ladder and grabbing hold about 5 times before I realized this was an exercise in futility.
Looking around I saw there was a low platform down river that I would easily be able to clamber on to and at that point I was too tired to care about the two police officers waiting for me there. So I swam over to the platform, was helped up by the officers who then slapped me on the back and whispered "Go Tigers" in my ear.
From there it was back to the bridge to find my cell phone (which I had thoughtfully given to a bystander before jumping in). I found it easily as people cleared out of my way on the crowded bridge with what I first thought was respect (because they were all yelling "Georgie"), but later realized was disgust because I was covered from head to toe in Dotonbori filth. After getting my phone I met up with one of my friends and as we were walking by another bridge on the Dotonbori someone recognized me and enticed "Georgie" to jump in the river once more. This time the bridge wasn't as big nor was the crowd, but the climb up was much much easier.
The story about people jumping in on Friday (the same night I went in) is all on the following site:
|Basically what the article tells you is that about 500 fans jumped in the river (499 if you don't count me twice) despite the presence of 400 police officers that were dispatched to prevent just that. It also mentions that the jumping was a recreation of the 1985 Tigers spectacle.||
|This picture is of me after returning home from the river. It was taken about an hour after I jumped in so most of the excess debris had fallen off by that point, but you can still get an idea of how dirty I looked. Fortunately you can't experience how bad I smelled, it was strong enough to clear a 3 foot circle around me on the subway home.|
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