How a Japanese Guy Became a St Kilda Fan

Saint Yoshi

By Yoshi Imagawa


Hi everyone,


I am Yoshi from Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaido, Northern Island in Japan. It is the first time for me to write an article for this great website.  Nice to meet you!  Surprisingly I love Australian Rules Football and support St Kilda.


My interests other than AFL include cycling, watching rugby union, travelling, meeting people and talking to them (especially in English), and writing in English.


I have been to Australia, but only to Gold Coast and Sydney as well as Cairns for a several hours. Then you might wonder why I have interests in footy and barrack for the Saints.


An Australian pub is located near the city centre here in Sapporo (TK6) and I sometimes go there to seek opportunities to speak English (you would imagine that many Westerners go there) as having strong passion on the English language and to feel different culture. Live sport coverages including AFL are played at the bar.


In 2011, I saw an AFL match at the pub by a chance; however I thought it was extraordinary (much different to other sports – I apologise if it offends you). But later I found the sport was so interesting.


At the time, I had no particular club to support. However I kept up with news on the Internet.  Sadly St Kilda had been facing tough circumstances due to the infamous schoolgirl scandal.


The unique sport itself is not only interesting but also attractive, because it is powerful as boys are running around the field and trying hard to get a ball including taking a mark. I had already had interests in and liked rugby union, so I fell in love with footy although two sport codes are so different.


Just days after St Kilda had finished their 2011 Season, I heard a shocking news on Perth radio. Coach Ross Lyon quit the club and moved to Fremantle abruptly.


It was shocking not only for the club, Saints fans and Mark Harvey (who was sacked by Fremantle) but also for Fremantle fans. Even if I had no particular favourite club at the time, this news was shocking for me too.  Footy world was in totally shocked, I believe.


Five month later after the shocking news, another St Kilda news surprised me. But in positively this time. The Age reported that St Kilda were taking New Zealand adventure.


My thought was like “Oh, that’s a good news! The footy club are moving on from last year’s negative circumstances.  Wow!!  They are hosting some games in my favourite Wellington.”


Now, let me to explain about the relationship between New Zealand and me.


Back in 2001-02, I visited Auckland and Christchurch for three weeks as the second overseas holiday. I spent two weeks to study English at a local language school.  I fell in love with the nature and surrounding people.  After having come back from the holiday, I missed the country very much.  Then I resigned a railway signal engineering job in the end of 2003 and spent a year under a working holiday visa starting January following year.  After the second stay in New Zealand, I went back again, undertook a tertiary course in hotel reception operations and services for a year, and then worked for hotels as a concierge and a restaurant waiter for two years.


Wellington is my favourite city in New Zealand because of nice people, great public transport, Te Papa Museum (the National Museum of New Zealand) and the culture (especially I like cafes). Also I love the prettiness of Petone (a suburb where is 15 minutes train travel from Wellington Central Station).


My love affair with Wellington made me to grow up love affair with St Kilda Saints slightly. Meanwhile when I had time and money to go to the Australian bar here in Sapporo, I watched more St Kilda games to understand rules and to gain passions.  In the end of 2012, I became a more passionate St Kilda fan.


Club Membership slogan in 2013 “Loyalty Unites Us” created strong feelings for me to support mighty Saints. Nick Riewodlt’s loyalty to the club, great leadership and wonderful skills add my strong feelings to the club.


Sadly our great goal kicker Stephen Milne (he was my favourite player too) retired in 2013 as well as did a wonderful everyone-loved Lenny Hayes this year. But I hope young blokes experience more and will blossom in the near future to rebuild a strong club.


Go the Saints!


Read more articles as heartfelt as Yoshi’s at  Try this one: Jamie Simmons on a down-the-grades eccentric footballer called Wheels.

And enjoy our collection of writing about local footy (order here):

Footy Town 2013




  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Welcome aboard the almanac community Yoshi and we look forward to regular articles from our Sapporo correspondent! Yvette

  2. Neil Anderson says

    You make us feel humble that you can submit an article to an Australian Rules website in your second language about a completely different culture to your own.
    I’m not sure whether Yvette told you that it is compulsory to have a second team to support. If she has, I’m sure she would have nominated The Western Bulldogs as that team.
    Look forward to reading your match reports.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Good on you Yoshi.

    Any friend of Yvette’s is a friend of all of us.

  4. Thank you for your comments, Yvette, Neil and Mark. I feel being welcomed warmly by members in the community, I appreciate Yvette for inviting me on this great site and hope I can gain writing skills and my hidden talents blossom! Also I would like to enjoy friendships here :)

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi again Yoshi and you are welcome. I have to let you know I have not been able to email you back because my computer has stopped letting me send emails, I am receiving them but can’t reply. So please accept my apology for not writing back to your last two emails. I thought I would try here! I know you will get this message and I am glad you have joined the Almanac family. Also, please join Viber, I have texted you there and in Skype!


  6. Barb Smith says

    Welcome Yoshi. I am an Aussie visiting in Nagoya right now so it was interesting to read your article. Your love of learning English has given you another interest (FOOTY!) and I hope it enriches your life, like it does for all the Almanackers.

  7. Hi Yvette, thanks for your message and it was good to talk to you again last night :)

    Hi Barb, thank you for your warm welcoming. Also my interests in western culture and things (these interests were brought to me when I lived in New Zealand) led me to love footy. I love reading footy articles written by great footy lovers on this site and writing articles. Enjoy Nagoya :)

  8. John Ambrose says

    Hi Yoshi,
    Like I have always said you write English better than most of my students and they are in High School. We will catch up in January for some sliding time at Niseko or Rusutsu.

  9. Hi John, thanks for your comment with warm compliment on my writing. Yes, we will catch up in two and half months. The winter is coming soon here. I hope everything is going well with you mate!

  10. G’day Yoshi.

    Thanks for this wonderful article, full of warmth and enthusiasm. On behalf of the Almanac crew let me invite you to a weekend in Melbourne which includes

    1. Thursday evening after-work beers in an Australian corner pub, possibly the North Fitzroy Arms which might just be the centre of the known universe.
    2. An Almanac lunch – at which you will be our guest of honour
    3. A Saints match in Melbourne – we’ll look after you (Yvette is one of the great providers!)

    You will go home to Sapporo with plenty of stories and a mind full of Australian idiom.

    Great to meet you via your piece, and thank you so much for being on our site.


  11. PS In an email Yoshi mentioned that he wanted to write for The Maniac.

  12. Well done, Yoshi.
    A great plan to build your interest in language and footy.
    I reckon I read a Murakami book set in Sapporo, called Dance Dance Dance.
    Do you know it?
    If so, is there any such place as the mysterious Dolphin Hotel?

  13. I don’t think that was auto correct JTH – think he was referring to you. Seems you are known as The Maniac in Japan.

  14. Very astute people, the Japanese.

  15. One of the best pieces this year, Yoshi. Great work. And welcome to this wonderful site. Hope to hear from you again soon.

  16. Yoshi,

    Great article and good on you for becoming a Saints fan! Next year will be a little tough but exciting with all of the future talent we’ll have on the paddock.

    With your passion for footy and connections with the expat community in Sapporo you could probably create a side for the Japan AFL like Hiroshima did this year!

  17. G’Day JTH,

    I’m very surprised to hear about your offer to Melbourne. Thank you so much!

    I have never been to Melbourne and been wanting to visit Melbourne one day. Feeling atmosphere of footy is one of activities that I want to do in Melbourne.

    I’m very happy to be a member of this wonderful footy community! And I appreciate you for warm welcome and compliment.



  18. Hi E.regnans,

    Thank you for your compliment on my article. Unfortunately I am afraid to say that I haven’t read Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance, so I have no idea about the dolphin hotel, but will research later on.



  19. Hi Dips,

    Thank you for your compliment and warm words on this article. I’m very happy to hear that my one is rated in the top side of articles. It’s very positive feedback.

    Actually I have written the second article and found the third topic to write. The second article will be uploaded soon.

    Have a good afternoon.


  20. Hi Gordon,

    Thank you for your positive feedback on the article and I’m glad to meet fellow St Kilda fans. Yes, the next year will be tough for us, but we just stick to the club and show loyalty to believe that the bright future is on the way for mighty Saints.

    I wish I can form an Australian Rules club here in Sapporo, but am not sure if I am capable to play because I don’t think I have good skills on jumping (to take a mark).

    To be honest I have no idea about the game in Hiroshima, but will research later. Maybe we might need help from Kevin Sheedy as he had been an ambassador of AFL developing international marketing.

    Have a good weekend :)


  21. Yoshi

    Welcome to you. I’m also Australian, support the Adelaide Crows and currently live in Singapore. The Crows might cause you pain (1997) but let me know if you’re coming to Singapore. I’d love to have a chat and a beer.

    I really enjoyed your piece.



  22. Hi Micky,

    Thank you for your warm welcoming and compliment on the article, and I will let you know if I have a chance to visit Singapore.

    Is there any Australian/sport bar in Singapore where you can watch footy? How do you keep up with footy news in Singapore?



  23. Pamela Sherpa says

    Hi Yoshi, welcome to the ‘maniac’ community. It’s wonderful to hear about your enthusiasm for Aussie Rules. I’ m sure Kevin Sheedy would be thrilled to hear about you passion and dreams for Aussie Rules in Japan. I suggest you write to him at the Greater Western Sydney Giants. You definately should come to Australia to see a game and to meet some other maniacs.

  24. Hi Pamela,

    Thanks for your warm welcoming and positive feedback on the article. I will write a letter to Kevin Sheedy to discuss about the footy in Japan.

    Yes, I would love to visit Melbourne to watch a game and meet passionate fans.

    Have a good night :)


  25. Luke Reynolds says

    Welcome aboard Yoshi. Enjoyed the read.

    Does Sapporo have a Rugby Union team in the top competition in Japan?

  26. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Welcome Yoshi to the maniac community and in choosing , St Kilda you will get the chance to get to know the most positive person on the universe in Yvette look forward to more articles from you !

  27. Hi Luke and Malcom,

    Thank you for your warm welcoming and I’m glad that you enjoyed reading.

    Luke, we don’t have a rugby union team in a national competition but do have a local club. But Rugby union is not a major or popular sport here in Japan. Baseball and soccer are popular instead. Do you watch rugby union?

    Malcom, I can feel that we Sainters are positive people and I’m very happy to meet my new friend and passionate St Kilda fan, Yvette. It’s good to share our passion on mighty Saints and I’m so happy to be a member of this great community and it’s like family. Also I get such a great opportunity to express my thoughts and heart and to gain confidence.

  28. Justin Cook says

    Hi Yoshi,

    Great article mate. Keep up the writing! Go Saints!



  29. Hi Justin,

    Thanks you for your compliment on my first article and I will keep writing. Actually the second article was published yesterday and the third one is on the way. Let’s show our strong support to the Saints.



  30. Hi E.regnans,

    It’s very late, but finally I had a chance to research about Dance Dance Dance. I had quick looks at the book both in English and Japanese, but was not sure if the actual Dolphin Hotel was existing here in Sapporo. Then I took a further research on the Internet in Japanese and finally found that there was no Dolphin Hotel, The book said that the hotel did exist, but… Also the book was written in 1983, very old!

    I hope it helps you :)


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