Recently BEFC have started a good relationship with J-League Division 2 Champions Shonan Bellmare who are following a vision of becoming a fully internationalised club. We were invited down to their International Day but it clashed with our league matches and then a typhoon which prevented us from getting down there. So Bellmare invited us down again for their last home match of the season and Champions celebration. Despite it being on another league match weekend for us, a few of us managed to get down to experience the hospitality and football of Shonan Bellmare! Plus we love a good celebration!
Shonan Bellmare are pursuing a vision of being a truly international club and reaching out to the local international communities as well as overseas to make Shonan their J-League team!
BEFC are all about relationships through sports and creating as much opportunity as possible for different groups and cultures to come together, so we are well behind Shonan Bellmare's effort and vision to pursue such goals.
Maybe Shonan can become the de-facto team for internationals in Japan to support? After all Shonan is also down by the beach in Kanagawa with a cool coastal vibe for a football team.
With a large portion of the international community living in and around Tokyo why would we want to travel down past Yokohama to Hiratsuka to watch a J-League match?
Well we decided to find out, and we already had two answers....
- Get the heck out of Tokyo and relax!
- There is an onsen right next to Shonan Bellmare's stadium.
Yup, this is a Football Tokyo day trip, to get out of Tokyo, breathe in the fresh sea air and tie that up with other activities as part of the experience!
Getting down to the Shonan BNW Stadium in Hiratsuka is not that difficult at all. In fact it takes just over 1 hour (which is the same for playing matches for us) and only needs a single transfer at Kawasaki.
That being nice and easy and a considerable distance to get us out of being in Tokyo for the day (back to the fresh air part).
We didn't take the time to walk about Hiratsuka city itself but it had a decent number of eateries around the station, an Irish bar plus some museums and art museums on the way to the stadium.
The stadium is one of good stand out aspects of Bellmare in comparison to other stadiums because there is also a huge park surrounding it. Right before the stalls surrounding the venue there was a huge area of grass with portable goals set up and some small sided games being played with other families relaxing in small tents having a picnic, making it possible to even have a kick around before fully heading into the stadium.
On the way up to the stadium though is the Food Park....and that was impressive. While the photo below doesn't do it any justice the path towards the stadium is lined with food stalls from a vast array of different countries and cuisines!
I was impressed and thought you could spend enough time just working your way through Brazilian, Thai, Indian, Hawaiian, Italian, French cuisine to name a few as well as Japanese dishes and the very popular two steak and roast beef bowl trucks!~
As guests of Bellmare we met up with our friend Gyazi who gave us a tour of the stadium before the game after Capt. Ben had suitably bought enough Bellmare kit to fit the part!
Next season Bellmare will be playing in J1 as they finished the J2 champions. What is nice about matches at Bellmare is the stadium size makes it quite intimate. Despite the athletic track being creating space between you and the pitch this is common in a lot of Japanese stadiums. However the stadium size still makes it very easy to see all the action from raised seats making the it enjoyable to watch the match and devise new tactics.
We had a good time picking our man of the match who went onto score Bellmare's equalizer!
After the football it was time to find the onsen, a very important part of our adventure and we were not disappointed! In fact it was much closer to the stadium than we expected and on a cold evening that was very welcome.
The onsen (sento) itself is also very nice and spacious with a number of indoor and outdoor baths plus a too popular restuarant! We had our eyes on the Autumn Nabe dish but sadly it had sold out by the time we exited the baths.
Tip is to eat first before everyone else from the match has the same idea to hit the restuarant. However what was good was that despite a football match just finishing there wasn't an overcrowding of the bath house.
Being Bellmare's last home game of the season we'll have to wait for another good opportunity to head down and see another match! However we're glad we finally got the chance to experience a Shonan Bellmare match.
Maybe when the J-League season starts again we can land an International day that isn't on the same weekend as a TML game!
- Check out more photos from the trip to Shonan Bellmare in our BEFC Facebook Page Album>
- Shonan Bellmare's English website >
- Shonan Tennen Onsen Yunokura Garden next to the Stadium >