GP Sydney

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In a complete change from the brutal winter of Europe, we're once again back in Australia, midsummer, but this time Sydney! GP Sydney was held from February 1st through the 3rd and being really sensitive to the cold I was ecstatic to be spending the coldest time of the year in Japan in the Australian summer. One thing about a business trip to a warm environment is that you don’t need to bring so many pieces of clothing and packing is way easier. (The picture above is of Bondi Beach, which is 20 minutes away from the city center by car. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a place to relax.)

Ever heard of Darling Harbor?

The GP was held in the ICC or International Convention Center Sydney in Darling Harbor, which has a shopping mall, hotels and tons of restaurants. Darling Harbor is a massive open space area has the same sort of feel as Minato Mirai in Yokohama, with a ferris wheel and street performers. It's about a 30 minute walk from The Circular Quay and The Rocks area, where the famous tourist attractions like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, but Darling Harbor is a place for relaxation for locals and tourists alike. There’s also a mall with plenty of cafes and restaurants if you want to take a break from all the sightseeing.

The colorfully lit-up building on the left is the ICC

The colorfully lit-up building on the left is the ICC

The Activities of a Japanese Magic Player

Have any of you thought of attending an overseas GP? I attend overseas GPs fairly often and every now and then see a Japanese player. Going to an international GP, that spans over a language barrier and a culture barrier may seem like a big hurdle, but you get to enjoy a totally new atmosphere from the normal Japanese GP. So if you ever find yourself at one of these GPs make sure to stop by and say hello!

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Two Japanese players, Teruya Kakumae and Shuhei Nakamura, actually made top 8 at GP Sydney! Shuhei Nakamura, who is second Japanese player to enter the Magic Hall of Fame, had a lot of eyes on him at this GP, for if he were to have won, he would have become the player with the most career GP wins of all time. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to pull it off this time, but that final win doesn’t seem so far away.

2019 is the Year of the Pig!?

As per usual, we spent some time exploring the city before and after the GP and found something pretty interesting this time! As you may already know, Australia has a large foreign-born population and above all others the amount of Chinese immigrants has significantly increased in the last several years; particularly in large cities like Sydney and Melbourne. I noticed a lot of Chinese people while walking through the city.

Something caught my eye while I was in the city this time though; posters and decorations with “Happy Lunar Year!” dancing around on them. Lunar Year refers to the Chinese New Year and there were tons of shops and companies with posters celebrating the Lunar Festival. Flags that read “Sydney Lunar Festival” were hanging all over the place and there was even a huge pig statue in front of the convention center! “Is that a pig?” That’s right! In Japan it’s the year of the wild boar, but in most asian countries it’s the year of the pig.

"Year of the Pig 2019, Sydney Lunar Festival" flags in the city center

"Year of the Pig 2019, Sydney Lunar Festival" flags in the city center

The big pig statue that appeared in front of the GP venue Celebrating the Lunar Festival in the mall

The big pig statue that appeared in front of the GP venue Celebrating the Lunar Festival in the mall

Australia, The Multicultural Nation

The timing of GP Sydney was perfectly in line with the Lunar Festival. As I mentioned before, there are a lot of Chinese immigrants in Sydney and that filled the whole city with the Lunar Festival cheer. There were fireworks that evening in celebration of New Year’s day and all sorts of people gathered to enjoy it together. For nearly half a century, Australia has been endorsing cultural diversity through a policy of multiculturalism and I could definitely seem their respect for other ethnic cultures.  

Seeing all of this brought a thought to mind: “There are plenty of Chinese people living in Japan as well, but I have yet to see a proper celebration of the Lunar Festival in the city.” Since I’m originally from Yokohama, I know they celebrate the new year in Chinatown at least. That said though, I haven’t seen any celebrations outside of Chinatown. So I had no idea that the year of the wild boar we celebrate in Japan, is the year of the pig in China. I was honestly shocked with the realization that Japan doesn’t really pay any attention to the cultures of those living around them.

Recently the Japanese government is moving towards expanding their acceptance of immigrants due to the declining birthrate and labor shortages in Japan. However, in order to establish a truly multicultural society, they’ll need to not only adjust aspects on legal side of things, but also on the more abstract/human side. I want Japan to start to improve their overall attitude and atmosphere, and start to understand, respect and accept other cultures. For starters, what I can do is try and inform people of the current situation through this article. Are there people in your life that are from different cultures? The first step is being aware. Do that and you may notice a whole new world you didn’t before and there are plenty of new encounters and discoveries waiting for you!

Colorful decorations for the Lunar Festival at a shopping mall

Colorful decorations for the Lunar Festival at a shopping mall