This summer will see Arsene Wenger lead his Arsenal squad on a money-spinning jolly to the Land of the Rising Sun. In the past, Wenger has been reluctant to take his players on long-haul overseas tours, but newspaper reports are suggesting that he may just have been persuaded by the potential finacial rewards such a tour could provide.
It’s been claimed that the club are considering a week long tour at the end of July, in preparation for the start of the new season.
Japan has a population of over a 127 million people, and there’s already a large fan base out there for Arsenal following their signing of the Japanese teenager, Ryo Miyachi. The tour could net the club around £15 million, which would certainly be worth the 9 hour flight! For any Gooner fans out there thinking of joining the team, here’s The Transfer Tavern’s mini-guide to Japan (albeit with alot of help from Lonely Planet guides!)
- In the summer months Japan’s climate is dominated by warm, moist air currents from the Pacific which means that the country is hot and humid. Except in Hokkaido, where the temperature remains quite balmy throughout the year.
- It’s a well-known fact that the Japanese love sushi (raw-fish) and rice, but did you know that raw horse meat is also considered a delicacy? Many people expect the Japanese to eat a lot of whale meat, but apparently it’s actually quite unpopular with many elderly Japanese associating it with the post-war depression years.
- 70% of Japan in mountainous and the country has 200 volcanoes. The highest peak, Mt. Fuji, is actually an active volcano. On average there’s 1,500 earthquakes a year in Japan.
- Karaoke was invented by the Japanese, and the word actually means ’empty orchestra.’ It’s extremely popular with all members of Japanese society and is taken pretty seriously.
- The most popular sport in Japan is Sumo wrestling, followed by baseball. Sumo wrestlers are considered heroes in Japan, and are actually believed to be extremely sexy by the female population. ‘Rikishi’s’ or junior wrestlers act as valets to the senior wrestlers, bathing them and making sure they are clean for bouts.However, the sport has been dominated by a number of foreign wrestlers of late. Of the last 38 Emperor’s Cups 31 have been won by foreign wrestlers. The best Sumo of all time was a guy called Taiho, who won 32 Emperor’s Cups throughout his career and once famously won 45 consecutive bouts between Autumn 1968 and Spring 1969.
Football in Japan is dominated by the domestic J-League, which last season was won by Nagoya Grampus Eight. It’s a surprisingly close league, with just 2 points seperating 2nd and 4th. The national team is currently the best in Asia, and have been ranked as high as 9th on the FIFA rankings. They currently lie in 17th, between Slovenia and the United States.
The overseas tour has become a regular feature of most Premiership club’s pre-season training. Chelsea have been trying to ‘crack’ America for the last 2 seasons, but for many clubs the Far East is considered an easier sell. A gew seasons ago, Hull, Tottenham and West Ham all travelled to China to take part in a ‘tournament’ in Beijing. Liverpool, meanwhile, took on the Thai national side in the nation’s capital Bangkok. Even Wolves took a 24 hour trip to Australia to build the club’s profile there.
The first Premiership club to consider overseas tours was Manchester United, who estimated that before they started travelling abroad they had 10 million fans outside the UK. That number is now something like 333 million.