I went this evening to poke around the club events of the Mito Koumon festival. I couldn't drive there due to the section of the city being closed, so I took the risk of riding the scooter with a soccer ball under my arm...
The first event was a team ride in a traditional festival cart. At one point the cart parked andthe team stepped off for a quick meet, greet, and signing. I took an official Scottish Premier League ball (supplied by Mitre, the Mito supplier) for the event and it was signed by Honma, Nakamura, Park Chu-Ho, Kanazawa, Biju, Bruno, Hoshino, Nishino, Akahoshi, and Kazuhiro Suzuki.
I also asked Park if he could sign my trilingual Japanese-Korean-English dictionary, but he took it and put it in his bag, thinking it was a gift... I again mentioned that I was hoping for a signature and he wrote it and handed it back. What I had hoped would be a chance to symbolize international appreciation and create conversation turned into a very awkward moment. I usually have a very good rapport with the players but I doubt this made a particularly good way to remember me.
I also talked a bit with Nishino who has been out for quite a while, and was glad to hear him say that he will be back soon.
Afterward, I went to the goods tent and helped out how I could. I mostly spoke with the club president as we helped set up the target game for the kiddies, then stuck around the sales table for a couple of hours.
I got back in time to catch some of the J2 matches that took place. With the match results tonight, Mito is back in 12th place, but a win next Sunday against Kusatsu could mean a chance to be in 9th place. For the first time in years, as well, Mito is a full 12 points ahead of last place, and actually just 14 points shy of a chance at promotion. With 15 games left to play anything can happen, but it's both reassuring and bittersweet to look at the real situation and know that the team is destined to be solid as opposed to fearing the future.