People in Tokyo's Shibuya and Osaka's Minami entertainment district erupted in celebration on Nov. 23, after Japan overcame a one-goal deficit to stun Germany 2-1 in their opening match at the men's soccer World Cup in Qatar.
The mood heated up quickly in front of JR Shibuya Station after Japan scored two late goals to take the upper hand. In the plaza in front of the station, people were seen gathered around a fan watching a live broadcast on their phone, and as the clock ticked down, onlookers cheered the team on, saying "Just one minute left," "Go for it!" When the final whistle blew, jubilant supporters started chanting Japan's name: "Nippon! Nippon! Nippon!"
Shunsuke Kimura, a 22-year-old university student who was watching the match on the phone screen commented, "A few of us were watching the live telecast when people started gathering around until there were about 30 people. It was the greatest feeling."
After midnight, people wearing Japanese "Samurai Blue" team uniforms who had been watching the match at local restaurants came out to the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, energizing the atmosphere. A happy Ryunosuke Ito, 19, who had been watching the match at a sports bar with friends, commented, "When the other team scored the first goal, the mood started to sink, but when our team caught up and then went on to score a second goal the excitement peaked. I'm glad I believed in them and cheered them on."
People could be seen leaping in the middle of the crossing and banging plastic megaphones. Police dispatched to the area cautioned pedestrians when the lights were going to change and told them to proceed without stopping. According to Shibuya Police Station, no major trouble or accidents had occurred as of 1 a.m. on Nov. 24.
Sasuke Takeuchi, 20, who was walking in the area with friends, commented, "It's the greatest feeling, but there was that big accident in South Korea and so I want to be careful having fun."
In Osaka, meanwhile, sports bar DiJest in the city's Chuo Ward was alive with the over 400 people crowding its confines to watch. Akihiro Matsushita, 41, a contract worker from the Osaka Prefecture city of Takaishi, commented with excitement, "I believed they could definitely win, and that feeling made it through. The moment they scored the goal to take the lead, it was the greatest."
Kaya Morimoto, a 31-year-old day care worker from Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, said of Japan's upset win, "We were up against Germany, so I thought maybe we could draw at best, but when we achieved that unexpected victory, I was on the verge of tears. Gonda's saves as goalkeeper were brilliant. I'll be able to do my best at work tomorrow."
People wearing Japanese team uniforms who had been watching the game in restaurants and bars gathered in the area near Ebisu Bridge over the Dotonbori River in the central Minami district after midnight, chanting "Nippon" and banging drums. Police dispatched to the area guided people and no major accidents or trouble had occurred as of the morning of Nov. 24.
(Japanese original by Yongho Lee and Tomonori Matsuo, Tokyo City News Department; and Hanami Matsumuro, Osaka Regional News Department)