Last week, I traveled to Japan for 900 Global’s Summer BowlJam. Each day, I traveled to a different city, giving lessons, providing one-on-one coaching, demonstrating the new bowling balls in the line and bowling in pro-am events at night. It was definitely a lot of work, but a very fun trip!
Our fearless Team for Summer BowlJam:
900 Global Saleman Matsu, myself and 900 Global Qubica/AMF Dqa translator, Sumie Tanaka
Day 1 of Summer BowlJam took us to the northern part of Japan. We flew to Aomori and traveled to East Bowl where I gave a one-hour lecture and then provided one-on-one instruction. We later had a bowling ball demonstration, showing the fans and pro-am participants the new products. Luckily, every day the demonstrations went very well and the bowling balls looked great on the lanes! J
Afterwards, we had a very successful and fun pro-am event. In Japan, pro-am events are a little different than in the States. In Japan, there will only be 1-3 pros bowling with over 50 pro-am participants. There isn’t one pro on each pair of lanes. Sometimes, people will pay more money to actually get the chance to bowl on the same pair as the pro. Pros bowl an entire game before moving pairs and everyone bowls regular games (not no-tap). This particular bowling center also charged people to watch the pro-am event. East Bowl also made a commercial for the BowlJam event that aired on local TV stations prior to the event. So we had a great turnout and the local news came out and covered the event. The last game of the tournament, I shot 278, with the front 7, using my purple/pink Jewel. Everyone was really excited!
At the conclusion of every pro-am event, I had an autograph session and then gave away the tournament prizes to the bowlers.
The next day, we took another flight back to Tokyo and then drove 2 hours to Daigaku Bowl in Ibaragi prefecture. (In Japan, the country is split up into prefectures, similar to our states in the U.S.) This day was a big event as the bowling center was using BowlJam to help celebrate their 30th anniversary. I again had a lecture and then provided one-on-one coaching. We also had demo balls on hand for people to try.
The pro-am event that night was very big with 84 participants. Due to the 30th anniversary celebration, 900 Global had JPBA pro and P League Member Ayano and 2 other male JPBA pros were also on hand for the pro-am tournament. After the pro-am event, we had a special dinner party with all of the participants and gave away the prizes then.
Day 3 of Summer BowlJam took us to Atsugi Tsumada Bowl in Kanagawa prefecture. We left pretty early in the morning to drive to our destination and it was a good thing as there was a lot of traffic going through Tokyo. Come to find out, there was a parade going on in Tokyo for all of the Olympic athletes returning from the Olympic games.
For that day’s event, after the lecture and one-on-one coaching, I bowled 1 game with all of the people who attended the clinic. I shot 220 and the next highest person shot 190, so everyone was super excited.
Afterwards, I took a little break and played a Japanese video game, courtesy of the bowling center, which was very fun! It’s like “Rock Band” but with taiko drums. Then later that night, I bowled in the 4-game pro-am event and gave away the prizes at the end of the night.
Before each pro-am officially starts, the center will have me throw out the first ball. This particular night was very interesting...As I was walking up the approach and just after I threw the ball, there was a small earthquake. Everyone was laughing saying that I destroyed the pins so much so that I caused an earthquake. It was pretty funny timing.
The next day, we stayed in Kanagawa prefecture and traveled to Sagamihara Parklanes. I had a lot of fun at this event! The itinerary for this day was a little different than normal. Instead of a lecture/clinic, I bowled two pro-ams events, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, with a ball demonstration in the middle. There were over 50 people for each event and everyone was really excited to meet me.
During the first pro-am event, I shot 710 using the Freight Train. I also bowled with a few junior bowlers that threw the ball very well. One in particular caught my eye and that was 12 year old Kaya. She’s’ definitely going to be someone to watch out for! Her mother showed me a magazine article that she was featured in and Sumie translated it for me. In the article, she said that I was her role model and that she wants to be like me when she grows up because I travel all over the world and can beat the boys. LOL! That totally made my day! Check out the video of 12 year old Kaya!
During both pro-am events, I had a lot of fun with all of the bowlers. Everyone was very outgoing and talkative, which is always fun. I also had a few little fans that were 2 years old and 4 and 5 years old that were all eager to give me high-5s whenever I struck. I particularly had a great time with “Team Relax” in the evening pro-am. I gave the guys some pointers as we were bowling and explained the importance of relaxing while you bowl. So after my tip, every time they struck, they said “Relax, Relax, Relax,” so it became the motto of the night. They named themselves “Team Relax.”
The final day of Summer BowlJam, we again stayed in Kanagawa prefecture and traveled to Kanachu Hiratsuka Bowl. This day we also had two pro-am events with a ball demonstration in the middle. In the first pro-am event, I shot 248, 259 and 251 for 758 series using the Freight Train.
Before the final pro-am event of the trip, we went out to dinner and had okonomiyaki. I had never tried it before and it’s really yummy! It’s a mixture of flour, uncooked egg and some other veggies and then whatever meat you want in it. I choose pork. So the waitress mixes it all up and cooks it right in front of you. In the end, it kind of looks like a pancake-shaped omelet. It was super yummy!
The bowling ball demonstration and pro-am later that night also went very well.
I don’t actually remember all of my scores from every pro-am event, but I bowled well in all of them, using either the 900 Global purple/pink Jewel or Freight Train.
Although it was a quick trip and a lot of work, I definitely had a lot of fun and hope to travel back to Japan again soon! J