Expat Life, Japan

Middle School Revisited

Citizen Ice Skating Rink in Tokyo
Today I relived the seventh grade and went ice skating at a skating rink in Shinjuku. This was ironic in that I was told by a friend that there were no ice skating rinks in Tokyo…and in a way, that was true.
As an American, when I think ‘ice skating on a national holiday’, I think 12 -year- olds teetering around the ice on group dates and chubby, nervous middle-aged women in mom jeans and mall hair teetering around the ice behind two-year-olds– in heavily padded ski pants. I think over-priced, over-cooked hot dogs that taste like cotton, and two day old cotton candy that tastes like hot dogs. I think hot cocoa and Madonna’s “Holiday”, Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby”, the Twist and the Limbo.
But ice skating in Japan was a little different.
For starters, there was no food. Not that I’d expected they’d be selling nachos with that fake, plastic-tasting cheese, but some Ramen would have been nice. Or at least a vending machine that sold hot drinks.
Secondly, there was the unspoken agreement among skaters that everyone arrive dressed in a pink, lacy skating costume. Or if you were a dude, black leggings and a skin-tight turtle neck sweater.
Thirdly, one had to be a Winter Olympic hopeful, or damn near close, in order to step foot on the ice…or else risk getting decapitated by one of the many 9- year- olds triple axel-ing in every direction.
In other words, the rink was crowded with top-notch skaters and it was really dangerous. And I’m saying this as a decent skater. Two years of weekly skating lessons as a child and I can weave my around a crowded rink. But after getting involved in three separate skating collisions, I gave up and stuck close to the edge of the rink with the few other uneasy novices.
I guess that in Japan, ice-skating isn’t the stuff of a typical family outing or social life of a ninth grader. If you ice skate, you either have a life-long passion for the sport or hope to become the next gold-medalist. Either way, they take the sport seriously. At least, that was my friend’s theory.
I had fun though. I made a new friend and got to know a girl from my Japanese class a bit better. Plus, going around and around in a circle in an ice box to the sounds of Destiny’s Child is always a fun way to spend an afternoon.

In case you’re interested in a visit…here are the vitals:

Citizen Ice Skating Rink

Nearest Station: Takadanobaba

4-29-27 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo


Home Page:
http://www.h2.dion.ne.jp (In Japanese)

Business Hours:
12:00pm-7:45pm, Sunday: 10:00am-6:30pm

Admission: 1300 yen, 1000 yen after 5:00pm, 500 yen to rent ice skates

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