OSAKA/SAITAMA – Soccer fans took to the streets late Tuesday and a dozen even plunged into the murky waters of Osaka’s Dotonbori River in celebration of Japan securing a spot in the 2014 World Cup after a breathless draw with Australia.
About a dozen fans, some stripped to their underwear and singing the song of the national team, dove into the river, which flows through downtown Osaka.
Others who had climbed up the parapet of the Ebisu bridge that spans the river were warned by the police over loudspeakers. National team supporters had started to gather at the bridge at 9:45 p.m., shortly after the game ended.
Osaka police had control of the situation at the bridge around 10 p.m., although supporters continued to shout player names while beating “taiko” drums until late in the evening.
“I’m so glad,” a 21-year-old man from the city of Sakai said as he excitedly rushed to the bridge.
Police in Tokyo, meanwhile, were mobilized to ensure security at the busy intersection outside JR Shibuya Station.
Despite the police presence, a number of young supporters sporting “Samurai Blue” national team uniforms continued to party, ignoring warnings. The tighter security also did not deter supporters from loudly cheering, with some shouting “Nippon! Nippon!” (“Japan! Japan!”) as police took them away.
The busy Shibuya intersection has in the past been the scene of pandemonium, including accidents involving intoxicated revelers, as thousands have gathered there after important soccer matches as well as on holidays such as New Year’s Eve.
In the city of Saitama, many supporters had been waiting since the early morning hours of Tuesday in front of Saitama Stadium, where Japan faced off against Australia later in the day.