It was a night full of unexpected developments!

As Japan’s Samurai Blue team is kicking butt and moving on to the next round of the FIFA World Cup, Japanese fans seem to be finding friends everywhere. For one, they found comrades in Colombian supporters when they helped clean up the stadium after their match, a practice which now seems to have spread to other countries’ spectators who haven’t even interacted with Japanese fans!

Sports bring people together, and that’s something Mr. Sato learned when he watched the Japan vs. Colombia game live at a Colombian bar in Tokyo. Mr. Sato is the kind of soccer fan who gets pumped about the sport about once every four years, and this year happened to be that year. Coincidentally, it also happens to be the year of the FIFA World Cup! What are the odds!?

Because of his temporarily undying love for the Samurai Blue, he wanted to watch Japan’s first game of the tournament in style. That’s why he picked the Colombian bar Punto Punta, in Ebisu, Tokyo. They planned to project the game onto a huge screen so that all could see the game, which Mr. Sato thought would be a great view, and he hoped to make some Colombian friends at the same time.

On the day of the match, Mr. Sato arrived early and introduced himself to Akira, the owner of the bar. He’d hoped that, despite it being a Colombian bar, there would be a friendly atmosphere. But was it Mr. Sato’s imagination, or does Akira look a little displeased with Mr. Sato’s samurai blue get-up?

Business drew Mr. Sato away before the start of the game, but he managed to make it back before the first kick. Unfortunately, when he returned he found that the bar was completely packed!

Mr. Sato feared it would be full of Colombia supporters who might bully him away with his blue jersey and towel, but actually, Japan supporters and regular customers had also come to see the game, so he was a little relieved. Sadly, though, the bar was so full that he was forced to stand outside and watch the game through the doorway.

▼ This was not exactly what he’d hoped for, but at least the screen was big enough to see.

Never mind, never mind. It was an exciting game, and Mr. Sato was looking forward to watching Japan, who was ranked sixty-first in the world, play against Colombia, who ranked at number 16. He didn’t expect a win, but if they could just draw….

All of a sudden, less than five minutes into the start of the game a chance revealed itself! A Colombian player in the penalty box unintentionally stuck out his hand to block a shot headed toward the goal, and the resulting red card for Colombia let Japan take a fortuitous penalty kick. Shinji Kagawa took the shot…and he scored!!

Now if they could just keep the lead, for the next 85 minutes….but of course, the Colombian team was not such a pushover. Just before the end of the first half, Colombia scored a goal with a free kick and tied the game.

At this point Mr. Sato resigned himself to the game ending in a tie, but the Japanese team weren’t about to give up. 26 minutes into the second half, Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda kicked the ball straight from the corner to teammate Yuya Osako, who scored a goal with an impressive header, putting Japan ahead of Colombia by one point.

▼ Imagine this crowd going wild for that second goal!

That was the last goal of the game, and, as you may or may not know, in the end Japan beat Colombia 2-1. Japan supporters hadn’t expected their team to win, but with this victory, they were over the moon.

Mr. Sato was overjoyed, but how did the Colombian fans feel? They seemed a bit disappointed by their loss, but when he spoke with them he found that they had great sportsmanship. They all acknowledged that both teams fought hard, and that it was a great game. They weren’t angry, and they didn’t kick him and his blue jersey out, to his relief.

In fact, there was one man with whom Mr. Sato sparked a new friendship: Punto Punta’s owner Akira, whom Mr. Sato had previously doubted. After the match Mr. Sato squeezed his way into the bar and exchanged a firm handshake and a “good game” with the half-Colombian half-Japanese barkeep.

Emboldened by the friendly handshake, Mr. Sato sought to bond further with him by asking what he thought of the game. “The bar was really busy so I couldn’t really watch it,” he replied, shrugging.

Okay, so maybe it’s nothing like the new friendship spawned by Japanese and Senegalese fans who sang the One Piece theme song after the Senegal vs. Japan game, but Mr. Sato firmly believes that that handshake and noncommittal response was the start of something glorious.

Bar Information
Punto Punta / プント プンタ
Address: Tokyo-to Shibuya-ku Ebisu Minami 2-13-14 Chayazaka T&K Building 1F
東京都渋谷区恵比寿南2-13-14 茶屋坂T&Kビル 1F
Open: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Closed: Sundays

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