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Japanese Cricket at Suginami Festa in Tokyo

Cricket in Japan?  Are you serious?  Yes, I’m very serious!  Do the Japanese play cricket?  Yes, they do.  It’s a real thing.  And I was ecstatic to photograph it.  To see the great game played in Tokyo was most pleasing.  And it happened near my house!

young girl hitting cricket ball at Suginami Festa

If you went to Momoiharappa Park near Ogikubo Station in 2020, you would have seen it at Suginami Festa.  Suginami Festa was a family-style community event.  It was a great day out with its many food and drink stalls, plus on-stage entertainment.  That was where the game could be seen at the “Cricket have a go Dome.”  As an avid cricket fan, I went there to get some pictures.

Japanese cricketer teaching young boy

The Japan Cricket Association was the organizer.  They had many players on hand to coach both kids and parents.  It was free for everyone, and the purpose was to promote the game in Japan.  

The participants were full of enthusiasm, and quite a few belted the balls with relish.  And hopefully, after the event, a few went home wanting to learn more about the game.  I doubt anyone who attended the event today had ever heard of my cricket heroes, Don Bradman or Bill O’Reilly.  

kids cricket Japan

The kids, boys and girls, loved it.  They got many tips from the coaches and players.  It was a completely new experience for them, and many didn’t seem to want to give up the balls and bats!  I saw quite a few that wanted to continue.  One might even become Japan’s Mahendra Dhoni and star in test cricket or twenty20!

Japanese boy running with cricket bat

Unfortunately, I have no idea how many attended the dome.  At the festival itself, there were thousands.  The line of people wanting to try their hand at the game was very long!  There wasn’t any downtime for the staff.  

Japanese girl bowling at Suginami Festa 2020

It was interesting watching people bat.  Cricket is a game where the bat is held vertically.  In Japan, people only know baseball and so wielded it horizontally.  As cricket becomes more popular, knowledge and skill levels will increase.  It is something I’m looking forward to seeing.

Cricket has a long way to go, though.  Baseball is the dominant sport here, so it has a fight on its hand.  But the Japan Cricket Association is working on it.  The group is active and holds many events to raise awareness of the game.

Japanese boy playing sport at Suginami Festa

The association puts on displays and holds clinics at many schools.  It’s a good idea to get involved at a grassroots level.  Japan has a big population, so the game is prime to take off.  

young Japanese girl playing cricket at Suginami Festa

The game was played in the country over one hundred years ago.  But it was only in the 1980s when universities formed clubs and started playing it regularly.  Since then, it has slowly and surely been making progress.  Now it is an ICC associate member!  Things are looking up. 

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2 thoughts on “Japanese Cricket at Suginami Festa in Tokyo”

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