Blues Tour 2023: Tokyo
The team left for the 8:55 am flight at Heathrow Airport. After a 14 hour direct flight to Haneda Airport, three representatives from Keio University, Yuka, Mai, and Ryo, picked us all up, directing us to our accommodation on the campus site. After giving us a brief tour of the campus, the Oxford team had dinner and was introduced to Keio’s Men and Women tennis teams, in which there was an emphasis of a reunion of exchange between our two schools.
The Oxford tennis team had a fixture against Tokyo University, in which Seiyo was one of the representatives. After picking us up at Todaimae Station, the Oxford team followed the same usual routine and practice Tokyo University does. After two hours of practice with an hour lunch intermission, we had a 2 hour match against them, interacting with them mostly through mixed doubles. After the practice and match exchange, the Tokyo University took us to a sushi belt, where both teams were able to better communicate and get to know one another.
The Oxford team had a 2.5 hour practice session with the Keio tennis team from 7:30 to 10 am. We did a 20 minute warmup along with an hour of drilling. The remaining of the session included practice points. After practice, the team did some sightseeings at Akihabara, where most of the anime and manga is located, along with Sensoji Temple, Japan’s biggest and most famous traditional temple.
Again, the Oxford team had another 2.5 hour practice session with the Keio tennis team. After another great session, the team visited Shibuya, seeing the famous Shibuya cross-section. Additionally, the team went on a shopping spree, ate gyoza and dango, and had dinner at a small traditional udon restaurant.
Unfortunately, the weather was quite bad due to heavy rain, so the practice session with Mitsubishi Corporation Tennis Club was cancelled. In exchange, the team had a full day of exploring around Hiyoshi Station and wandering around the entire Keio University Campus.
At 10 am, the Oxford tennis team had a fixture against Hosei University, with the help of an old Blue, Megumi. The team had an amazing experience with the Hosei Men’s and Women’s team, in which Oxford and Hosei loudly cheered for both teams. The fixture mostly consisted of same sex and mixed doubles, combining players from both schools. After playing until 5 pm, the Hosei team took us to an Izakaya, which is a combination of a bar and a restaurant that endorses lot of interaction.
The Oxford team had its fixture against its host, Keio University, in which the women’s team is the number 1 team in the nation followed by the men’s team as number 2. However, the Oxford team came out quite strong, winning 4/5 doubles matches. After a great fixture, the Keio team took us to a traditional restaurant, eating foods such as takoyaki.
This day was a full day of sightseeing, in which the team went to Tsukiji Fishmarket, a famous and the largest fish market in the world. We had a range of seafood, such as sea urchin, bluefin tuna, scallop, and salmon roe eggs. We also got to taste daifuku, a traditional Japanese sweet filled with red bean paste that is topped with a strawberry. After tasting various traditional Japanese foods, we went to Yoyogi Park, to enjoy the warm weather and played frisbee. After this, we went back to Shibuya to enjoy the night scenery.
Before sightseeing, the team was able to see a fixture against Hosei and Keio University, in which many of the friends we made in both fixtures were playing. As our last full day in Tokyo, the team visited Nezu Shrine, a traditional shrine that is famous for its pathway of bright orange wooden holdings. After this, we brought our traditional bentos to Ueno Park to eat there while enjoying the blooming cherry blossom trees.
The team left at 5:30 to head back to Haneda Airport to catch our 9:45 am flight. The flight was about 14.5 hours long, which we safely landed back to London Heathrow Airport.
Overall, it was a very successful tour with plenty of training and matches, cultural exchange, and new friends made. Thank you for all the teams in Tokyo, with each match played in good spirits and kindly welcoming us with open arms to their home city. We thank Megumi Kitazato, and Old Blue who went over and beyond in helping the planning of this trip, from getting us in touch with teams to translating every correspondence in advance. The men's and women's team are ready to bring the team spirit in preparation for Varsity!