Sunday, June 17, 2012


After an amazing weekend and 2 wins, we flew back to our "hometown." Wiggins packed up and was off early the next morning, while my mom, my brother, and I were off to Kyoto. The company pays for our families to visit Japan for 5 days. Instead of going back a day early, we decided to explore and see one of the cities on our last day. Kyoto was where our opening games were held. I really liked the city and saw they had a lot of historical sites, but didn't have time to see anything. I thought it would be perfect for my family to experience the historical parts. Kyoto is one of the most historical cities in all of Japan. Little historical tid bit for y'all: Kyoto was actually ruled out by the U.S. as a possible city to drop the atomic bomb because of the immense historical meaning and landmarks. Learn something new every day!
Me and my brother in front of the Shinkansen aka
The Bullet Train. Soooooo fast
In case you haven't read any of my previous posts, I am what people would call "directionally challenged" aka I get lost wherever I go. I get lost in my hometown (been there for 23 years now). I have perfected the u-turn and the ever-so discreet parking lot turn around. So, it was only a little discerning that I was supposed to lead myself and my mom and brother to and around Kyoto. Getting to Nagoya - the nearest city - is fairly simple and I had been there before a couple times with our translator. Getting to Kyoto, however, required taking a train, then bullet train, then another train and the bus to get around the city. That's a lot of travelling. That's a lot of opportunity for me to get myself and my family so lost that finding our way back to our hometown in time for our flight the next morning would be improbable. I had planned out everything to do with travel about a week in advance - half because I was nervous about getting lost, half because I was bored with nothing to do since I had already packed the week before. I had everything mapped out and even had a cheat sheet with Japanese phrases. I had everything from "Where is _____?" to "I'm lost" and "Where's the nearest Starbucks?" (priorities people, I have to have my coffee). 
The next morning we were off. Navigating around to the Bullet Train (Shinkansen) was actually pretty effortless. The only problem was figuring out what city we were heading towards. They had trains to Tokyo and trains to Osaka, heading in different directions. I had to figure out which way Kyoto was and considering I still didn't know where I was in the country after 3 months, this was more difficult than originally predicted. After my minimal (bare minimum) Japanese somehow found us on the right platform, we were off on the train within a couple minutes. The train was SUPER nice. Huge chairs with reclining features and footrests. We thought it was too good to be true. Turns out it was. We were in the "reserved" section without knowing it. We got a slap on the wrist from the conductor who basically called us stupid Americans - those words never were spoken but we got the point. While walking to the "general" section, the seats got smaller and smaller; the people grew more abundant; and the fancy features of the recline and foot rests disappeared. Back to reality. A fast one. The bullet train is aptly named, for sure. It was fast. Ricky Bobby fast. If you don't get that reference, look it up, then slap yourself for never seeing that hilarious movie.

The view of Kiyomizudera. Picture doesn't do the view justice

We got in Kyoto without a problem, and even spotted a Starbucks right out of the station. We got our bus passes and we were off. We saw some gorgeous temples and parts of the city. We first went to Kiyomizudera Temple. It was HUGE. It was tucked away at the top of this mountain and had absolutely breathtaking views. It seemed as though we were in the middle of a forest, while in reality, the heart of the city was just about a mile away. The temple also had a waterfall that is said to make any drinkers' truest wish come true. Of course, we had to take a sip and try out our luck. Can't say I wished for anything softball related, though. I've already gotten everything I could possibly want out of this amazing sport. Everything I receive from here on out is just cherry on a sundae. And I love cherries so hopefully theres much more to come ;)

Drinking from the "magic" waterfall. My mom's face is pretty
priceless. The water tasted good to me....
From Kiyomizudera, there was a pathway that led down through the town. It was an olden street with shops all along the sides. In these streets, we bought some fans, some traditional food and candy, and a little blessing figurine. The road was super crowded with a bunch of tourists and school kids. I swear they never go to school. Everywhere I go, there's children wearing school uniforms roaming the streets. I thought they were in school from like 6am til midnight. Apparently not. 

From there, we headed over to the Golden Temple. It was clear across the city from where we were, so it took awhile, but we made it - after temporarily getting lost in the subway and trains. This temple was so gorgeous, and on a much smaller scale than the enormous one we had just came from. The Golden Temple was appropriately named since it was covered in gold leafs. Real gold leafs. Unfortunately, by that time it had turned kind of cloudy and a bit rainy. Nevertheless, the temple was amazing and we got some great pictures that don't even look real. Constantly while in Japan, I feel like I'm living in a postcard. Everything's so clean and perfect. It doesn't seem real at all. Definitely provides for some awesome pictures, though. 

The Golden Temple seriously did not seem real. So pretty!

On the way back from the Golden Temple is where we hit a bit of a snag. We had taken a few different subway trains up to the area, and tried to take the bus back. We were on this bus for a good hour before actually reaching our destination. For a solid 45 minutes I was panicking that we were on the wrong bus and would end up in Tokyo or something. Thankfully, we somehow ended up at our location - much later than anticipated, but we made it. 
Once we got to the train station, everything was easy from there on out. It was definitely a great day with my family and I am extremely blessed that they could come out and see how I've been living for the past 3 months. The next day, we headed back to Los Angeles and "normal" life. I was very ready to be back home and non-foreign life. I wanted American food and wanted a conversation that didn't involve a translator. I was also very excited to get back to my USA teammates and get to training for our World Cup and World Championship tournaments. Can't wait to reunite with them!! 

I'll keep up with the blogging throughout our USA season. Sorry, there will be no lost in translation stories (thankfully for me I'm staying in English speaking countries). 

...'til then
xoxo Jordan 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


So, I know I haven't updated in awhile. Sorry 'bout that. Anyways....
Our season in Japan wrapped up last week. We ended with a 9-2 record for the first half and we're solidly in 2nd place, being 3 games ahead of the teams tied for 3rd. The top 4 teams make the playoffs out of the 12 total teams. So, looks like team DENSO will be making our 1st playoff appearance in 5 years! It's very exciting for these girls who have worked so hard to break through to that top spot. We were definitely picking up momentum as the first half was winding down, so hopefully we can come back just as strong in September.
Receiving my MVP award. Had to give a speech to the crowd.
Thankfully, Maki was there to translate....although,
I did have to actually speak to them. Butchered it. 
One of the coolest things happened in one of our last games. Chibby, our center fielder, has been playing in the league for 10 years. She's really good. Like, really REALLY goooooood. In the middle of one of our games, she hit her 200th career hit. I know this probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but  you have to take into account that they only play 22 games each season and it is very rare for rookies to play. As soon as she got her hit, they stopped the game. People came out with flowers and a banner, there was a speech made, and even the mayor of the town was there. This huge celebration happened.....then she got back on first base and the game resumed. It was insane. It was like a blink-and-you-missed-it celebration. After the game, DENSO people came with more presents and banners. It was pretty awesome to witness all of it. U.S. step your game up, please. These mini-celebrations are awesome. I even got a present for getting Player of the Game in our last game. My present........RAW SQUID. Like chopped up, straight off the boat, squid. Where we were playing, they are very famous for their seafood. So, I guess I can see why I received raw squid. But it was definitely the strangest present I've ever gotten; and I once got a postcard with my head photoshopped on a gladiator from a superfan (not kidding).
I was lucky enough to have my family visit in my last week of the first half. The company pays for our families to visit for 5 days, all expenses paid. I love Japanese softball. 

Thankfully, it happened to be the only weekend that my little brother, Hayden could manage a free weekend before he left for college. And even more thankfully, that weekend happened to be the weekend that we visited one of the most beautiful places that I've ever been. And I've been to Hawaii. And Mexico. And Northern Canada. Really pretty places. They have nothing on Hokkaido, Japan. It's the northern island, so we had to take a plane to get there. Travelling with the team was much easier than my solo adventures with air travel (aka my 5-hour-delayed-flight-and-subsequent-missed-connection-and-staying-overnight-adventure). Once we got to the town, it was like we were in a postcard. Nothing seemed real. All the buildings were very similar old, brick buildings. They were probably all at one time fish warehouses of some sort. It was definitely a fishing town, being right on the water (the Pacific Ocean - the other side of it). At night, all the buildings are lit up, as well as the boats along the harbor. Extremely pretty. Again, I felt like I was in a postcard. Oh! And bonus points.......there was a Starbucks. My obsession with the lovely coffee chain is equalled by my mother. It's kind of our thing to go to Starbucks. Every morning before our games, she would show up to the hotel with my Peppermint Mocha in hand. It became a known thing that I would meet my mom in the lobby prior to the bus leaving. I might add to that my mom is amazing and superwoman and came to every single one of my games my senior year - and didn't miss many my junior year. She's kinda sorta my biggest fan and the reason I am where I am. I love my mama!

This is my amazing and beautiful mother!

One of five king crabs. The amount of food was outrageous!
My family definitely got to experience the full team experience since it was the last weekend. Everyone was ready to celebrate our 2nd place status and great end to the first half by letting loose a bit. Some of the girls arranged for us to have basically all-you-can eat and drink meal at a restaurant across the street. They got to sit on the ground and everything. FULL experience for my mom and brother. To say my team are lightweights would probably be a bit generous. They can't really handle their alcohol. But, Lord do they try. I will say that they are one of the most fun groups of people I've ever drank with, though. They definitely know how to have a good time. 
Again, the place we were playing was famous for their seafood. So, when we arrived, there were about 5 huge platters of crab, each topped off with a king crab that the owner threw in for free. I thought there was definitely going to be enough food - and then some - for everyone on the table. Apparently, the owner did not agree, seeing as he sent up about 8 more rounds of food. After the crab, there was chicken, there was fish, some baked potatoes came out, squid, vegetables, shrimp (raw and full-bodied), calamari, and I honestly don't know what the other plates were. Not that I don't remember, I literally don't know what the food was. And after a few drinks, I really didn't feel like asking or knowing. After awhile, some of the girls started wavering in their ability to form sentences and keep their eyes open. After about an hour, one of them was passed out in the corner. Two more followed suit within the next half hour. Dropping like flies while us Americans were completely coherent and cracking up (and stuffing our faces). 
Towards the end of the dinner, the girls called out Chibby to chug her drink since she had eclipsed the 200 hit mark the previous week. Chibby is 4'10. Tiny little thing. Her thigh is my arm - not kidding. She was already a couple drinks in, and this chugging definitely sent her overboard. The calling out of people to drink definitely did not stop there. Soon enough, everyone was brainstorming ideas to come up with a reason for each person to drink. And even sooner enough, it came to me - my reason being because I got MVP of the last game. Getting the raw squid was enough, I didn't need to chug too. Worse enough, it was in front of my mom and little brother.  Never been a fan of chugging but it seemed as though I didn't really have a choice with 22 girls chanting and screaming in a public setting. I ended up saying the hell with it and looked down and said sorry then continued to chug my rather large pint of beer. Ended up basically crying because it was ice cold and never-ending. 
The night ended in about 10 of the girls laying down on the floor and massive amounts of food still left on the table. But, it was a great time and great way to spend our last night with the team. Bright and early the next morning, we were off and back to our "hometown." 
It's weird but I miss those girls and their lightweight selves already....

xo Jordan