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Dr Ian Plummer

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Croquet in Japan

Japanese players, February 2008. Photograph courtesy Satoru OshidaEnthusiastic members meet in Tokyo every weekend throughout the year to play croquet in the Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo. Their club boasts two full-size lawns: a splendid artificial surface and a turf covered one. The artificial surface was playing at ~12 Plummers.

The Club members are extremely dedicated. One travels for two hours to get to the lawns and they play in all weathers. This February I was kindly entertained by the Club in absolutely freezing conditions with a dust storm adding to a huge wind chill. At its worst the wind stirred a stationary ball and moved it 18".

The Clubs boast some expert players, indeed Masaaki Yamada had just returned from the World Championships in New Zealand. I was easily defeated on the testing surface by my host, Satoru Oshida, who made my visit possible.

The Club has welcomed famous croquet names in the past including Bernard Neal and Stephen Mulliner - to say nothing of Russell Bretherton whose mallet is still in the club (intentionally left or lost, it is difficult to decide).

The Japanese Croquet Association (http://www.croquet.jp/, translated here) encourages croquet in Japan. It holds annual competitions and Satoru Oshida has translated the Beginners' Coaching Notes into Japanese. There were two eager novices braving the bitterly cold weather during my visit.

Showa Club members enjoying their BBQ.  Photograph courtesy Satoru OshidaThe members kindly invited me to join them in a BBQ accompanied by beers, an excellent Riesling (!) and Johnnie Walker Red Label - true croquet players! Mr Takano, croquet player turned chef, produced steaks, sausages, scallops, pork, cabbage stir fry, noodles ... all helped to warm us up.

I am extremely grateful to the Japanese Croquet Association and its members for giving me a most pleasant and memorable experience during my visit.

Members of the public can rent the lawns in the park for ~£1.50/hr with equipment included.

March 2008
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Updated 22.ii.17
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