Munoz: Japan Trip Caps Stanford Career
Stanford goalie Lyndsey Munoz has blogged for LaxMagazine.com since her sophomore season with the Stanford women's lacrosse team. She wrapped up her senior season this year. Read her previous blogs here.
There are not enough words to be able to describe to you how amazing my experience was on this trip. After Hawaii — with the beach, the relaxation, and all the breathtaking views — I thought there was no way Japan was going to be able to beat it. I was completely wrong.
I'm not really sure what I expected Japan to be like, but it was definitely not like what I experienced. After landing in Tokyo and driving through the hotel, if you ignored the characters on the buildings it honestly looked like another American city. It wasn't until the next day when we explored the city of Kamakura that I got a sense of how different it was.
In Kamakura we visited a temple and upon our arrival we performed the same ritual everyone does before entering the sacred space, cleanse our hands and then drink from the water and spit it out. It was odd to us, but I understand the necessity of such a ritual. At the temple we were able to go inside, explore, and see the big Buddha that was there.
The next two days I was so anxious for, I think we all were. I'm referring to our homestay with a Japanese player, where each of us by ourselves went to stay with a player and their family. Not only were we being immediately immersed into the culture but also entering a space that could have been filled with huge language barriers as some of them spoke minimal English. Let's just say I used the more hand gestures this trip probably than I have in the past year.
Despite my anxiety it really was an enlightening experience. We had to do everything they did, including saying phrases before meals, using chopsticks (I got the hang of it by the end), eating foreign meals, sleeping on thick mattress pads on the ground, and so many other different things that we were not used to. I stayed with Naho Sakagami who was also a goalie and played for Rikkyo University. She actually came to Stanford and played two years ago in the Stars & Stripes event that we hosted, so it was interesting that she had been to my "home" and now I was in hers.
She was so nice and took me to some great food places, which I fully appreciated. I tried a lot of new foods that I didn't think I ever would, like squid (that's not fried) and eel. Needless to say, I ended up being so happy that we got to do the homestay.
Our next day featured a game against the Japanese national team. Although we tied I think we did well considering many of us haven't been playing as often and not everyone on our team could play. It was very exciting for me because we played in front of about 5,000 people, which is the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of. We all had a ton of fun putting on our jerseys again and playing together, it was such a rewarding experience.
My favorite memory from the trip had to be the night we went to dinner on a boat. The whole team and staff were on a boat by ourselves and served dinner, which featured some delicious food. However, what made it so amazing was the karaoke. I don't think I have laughed so hard in my life. First the coaches went up, with Amy [head coach Amy Bokker] singing her favorite "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, and then each class went up. Our class crushed some Spice Girls, the juniors went with Justin Timberlake, the sophomores did Destiny's Child, and the freshmen did "Dancing Queen". We even got our sports performance coach Lesley Moser and our athletic trainer Nina Holley to sing. We also could see Tokyo from the water, now that was an amazing sight.
Our stay featured us playing some Japanese universities, which was officially the last time the senior class would play for Stanford lacrosse. It made me sad, but just so happy to hold that as my last lacrosse memory. If you have read my previous blogs you will see that the season didn't exactly end how we wanted, so to be able to remember lacrosse in such a way and end on that note was seriously incredible.
On our last night we had a farewell party with our hosts and some Japanese players. Some players woke up at 4 a.m. to go see the fish market where they sell these huge tunas. However, I'm not a morning person so I knew I would just end up pushing snooze and not going. The day we left we went to a tea ceremony, and then to a drum museum, which was interesting to learn about after watching Stanford's Taiko drum group perform at graduation.
As I sit here, back in the United States I can't help but just be so grateful. I don't think the trip could've gone any better. Both places were so unique and different from each other; I really feel that I learned a lot. While on this trip for me one of the other rewarding parts was just to be with the team. During the year, things get crazy, and being able to spend that kind of time with everyone especially without cell service just meant the world to me. Even more so rewarding for the senior class, as we get ready to depart the team and start our new life away from Stanford. I will hold the memories of the trip with me for the rest of my life, and be able to smile every time I think about the experience.
Huge thanks to the coaching staff and Zag sports for organizing it, and everyone else that helped to make the trip possible. It truly was the best trip of my life, and that is all due to those who contributed to getting us there.
Currently, I'm back on campus hanging out until camp begins. June was just an amazing month for me, and despite having to be soon hit by the realities of the real world I'm glad I have a few days to soak it all up. I am excited though to return home, I miss crabs so much...and my family and friends too! I feel so lucky and blessed, and I'm so excited for what the future holds. Thanks for reading; it's been incredible getting to share my story with you all. The best of wishes to all. Hope you enjoy the photos!