November 16, 2011

From Ultimate Failure to Success

Most of the readers probably know that I play ultimate frisbee and the title of the entry refers to that. With the intended pun, of course. To tell you the truth, I was not in a rush to start playing ultimate again, because after the very eventful ultimate summer I was not only bruised, battered and physically exhausted, but I needed to put it out of my mind as well. As the weeks passed, though, I had to give in to the temptation to play ultimate again.

Looking for an ultimate team was actually harder than I thought. The major obstacle was the language barrier since all the information was in Japanese. I spent countless hours trying to decipher kanjis using google translate and electronic dictionaries. The other obstacle was the surprisingly large amount of outdated information, which hindered my search. Even the Aichi flying disc federation (the region comprising Nagoya and its surroundings) had a lot of links to non-existing webpages and teams that no longer played. Despite the difficulties, I found out that the teams from Aichi face each other four times a year in a regional tournament, the Toukai Open, which was held for the last time this year at the end of October in the nearby city of Okazaki. A perfect occasion to get to know the local ultimate scene and find a team. Adding to my excitement was also the news that UNO, one of the best women ultimate teams in the world, was participating to the event.

Okazaki Sports Center

I nearly overslept the whole thing, because what was supposed to be one or two beers the previous night turned into partying the night away. Anyway, I was able to leave around noon and arrived to Okazaki around 2 pm, an hour later than I anticipated, because switching trains from two different railway companies and then finding the right bus in an unknown place took longer than I had imagined. Okazaki Sports Center extended over a hill and it took me some time to go around looking for the ultimate tournament. By 3 pm I had been everywhere, but I hadn't seen a single frisbee, player or team. The whole thing turned out to be an ultimate failure. Perhaps the games were already over by 2-3 pm, but I never got any confirmation to this and never found any tournament results. Luckily the weather was nice, so I went for a walk and tried to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the top of the hill despite the disappointment.

But where are the ultimate fields??

At the top of the hill with the city of Okazaki faintly visible in the distance.

Blooms, the ultimate team of Nagoya University, practices every Saturday morning from 9 to 12 am and two weeks after the Okazaki incident, I was able to participate. The team consists mostly of first and second year ultimate players with a few more experienced players, all in all a dozen players. The drills were quite basic throwing drills with one slightly more challenging one, ダンプ練習 (dampu renshuu) or more familiarly a dump drill with a few well-timed cutbacks from upfield. After the practice the whole team went to eat an abundant tonkatsu meal at a nearby restaurant, a custom after every Saturday practice. Such a habit is elusive in Finland, although it could be plausible a little bit more unfrequently, say once a month. At present our team in Finland goes to eat together only at the end of the season, so in my opinion such a habit would be very welcome.

The vending machines at the Sports Center sell two suitably named sports
beverages: Pocari Sweat and Match.

Next week Blooms has a practice match and I will go play with AG Funks, a non-university team based in the city of Toyota. So stay tuned, there will be more ultimate news in the near future!


  1. Hi Tommi,
    my name is Robert and I'm coming to Nagoya in about two weeks. I'm desperately looking for a chance to play some ultimate while there. I've been searching the internet forever, but can't read kanji to save my life. From what you write I suppose, you finally made it to a practice session. Could you help me in finding some opportunity to play (have been playing for roughly 5 years now)?
    Best Regards from Germany

    1. Hey Robert,
      Glad to hear you want to play some ultimate. Indeed, I did find an ultimate team and I'm actively playing with them. Most of the teams from Nagoya play at Toyota (a nearby town) every Sunday. It seems like only university teams practice weekdays (mon-fri). If you want to come play on Sundays, I'll ask if you can join (I can't see why, it's just a Japanese convention). How long are you staying in Nagoya?

  2. Hey Tommi,
    thanks a lot for your speedy reply. I am going to study at NUCB and plan on staying until end of July - so rather for a short period (hope this is no problem). I'd be glad to join and Sundays sounds great!

    From what you write I figure that university teams are pretty competitive? I've not been able to find out much about the ultimate scene in Nagoya, but I'm looking forward towards meeting y'all and playing some good ultimate.

    Thank you again for helping.

  3. Hey,

    No problem, I'm glad to hear that my blog was of some help. That's why I wrote about ultimate in the first place, because I was so frustrated with the same situation.

    I've only seen a couple of university teams so far and I have to say I wasn't too impressed. But I know there are some good ones too, just haven't seen them yet. The reason why university teams practice on weekdays is that they have time. Employed people work so late that it's just impossible for them to practice weekdays, not to mention the long commuting distances.

    I'm writing soon about the ultimate scene in Nagoya in more detail and about the upcoming Dream Cup...hopefully this week :) Also, let me know when you arrive and of course let's play some ultimate!


  4. Hey,

    I arrived this morning and am completely fascinated by Nagoya. Tomorrow is orientation day and I guess that I will have a chance to see some of Nagoya. School begins Monday and I have no plans for the weekend yet. So in case there are some discs in the air anywhere around I'd love to join and meet some people.

    Sunday in two weeks there is some event hosted by the university which I'll need to attend meaning no ultimate. You can also get me on email:

    Hope to meet you on the pitch soon

  5. the @ is missing in front of the g
    robertmartens at


  6. hey tommi? this is rei and i live in gifu, like robert i also had a difficult time looking for a team since all the websites here in japan are, well, in japanese. i was so glad when i saw your blog and i was hoping if you can help me find a team near my place, or better yet, join your team. Please reply, you can email me at Thanks again and hope to play with you guys sometime.

  7. Hey Folks!
    I'm going to jump on this bandwagon! Tommi, just found your blog. Hello to Robert and Rei. I have been in Japan since July 2011. I came from a competitive ultimate background in the states (playing almost 10 years), hoping to play here. As you all have expressed finding and joining ultimate in Japan is a nightmare. I have been connected with UNO and practiced from time to time with them in Toyota. I'm in Fukui, so it's quite difficult to commute 4-5 hours for ultimate. But I live for ultimate!

    I just wanted to communicate with all 3 of you. Are any of you still in Japan? We have a team in Fukui made up of mostly foreigners. I'm the only one that came to Japan as an ultimate player, but we are improving and interest is growing. I'd welcome more players if you ever found your way into Fukui on the weekends.

    Please let me know if you all are still in Japan! Tommi looks like no blogs lately from you so I'm guessing you are gone? And Robert, sounds like you were gone in July? Rei, are you still around? Even if you all have left Japan, maybe we could start an email thread with each other. I'd love to hear how ultimate turned out for you in Japan. I've been learning about the mindset of Japanese teams (which have really never had foreigners play with them), and I might look into starting and ENGLISH internet page for ultimate in Japan and I would be interested in what you learned.


    1. Hey Julia,

      Great to hear you found the blog and also great to hear that there are more expat ultimate players seeking information and actively promoting the sport! We are definitely a small community in this part of Japan.

      I spent many Sundays practicing in Toyota last winter, spring and summer until WUGC. After Worlds I took some time off of ultimate and only participated in some tournaments with A.G. Funks in late summer. I returned to Finland in September. Robert also practiced a few times in Toyota but already returned to his country. Unfortunately I never met with Rei although we had plans to meet at the Sunday practices. I have no clue about Rei's situation at the moment. It would have been fun to see you in Toyota since I thought Robert and me were the only foreigners playing there.

      I'd gladly hear from your experiences as well and although I'm back in Finland I'm still planning on writing about ultimate in this blog, since it turned out to be helpful for foreign ultimate players in the Aichi region! You can contact me at tommi.palomaki (at) and I can add Robert to the conversation. Perhaps we can try to reach Rei as well!


  8. Hi Tommi,

    My names Rob and I run
    I'm looking to collect info on sports teams around Nagoya and stumbled across your blog.

    Is it possible to get details of the Sunday event - that is, if it's public of course.



    1. Hey Rob,

      Most of the teams in Aichi participate to the Sunday events, at least occasionally. Some are university teams and some are adult or non-university teams. If someone wants to find a team or learn about the ultimate scene in Aichi, it is a great place to go. It is a public event and as far as I know new players are welcome. As expected in Japan, the community culture or being part of a group is very important and I suggest to ask to join a team if someone plans on going there regularly.

      As general info and to those people who stumble upon the blog, the practices start usually at 9 am and finish some time between 12 am and 3 pm. The venue is on the riverbank right next to the bridge leading to Toyota stadium. Depending on the weekend, the practices can be on the stadium side or the opposite side of the river, but you can see the fields/games from the bridge. During holiday periods and when there are big national tournaments, there are no practices. I don't want to publicly give any contact informations, but if you are interested in participating, send me an email and I can hook you up with some local ultimate player.

      I hope you can post something about ultimate on If you need additional info, let me know.


  9. Hi Tommi and all,

    I just moved to Aichi (Toyohashi, specifically) and love to play ultimate. I was wondering if you could perhaps direct me to some information on teams in the nearby area? Please feel free to email me at:

    Thanks everyone for your help,