Practice was later today, a nice break from yesterday. Everyone was physically and emotionally exhausted from the day before, because we had an early practice before being taken to Hiroshima for the rest of the day.

Editors note: This is the third in a series of diary entries from Ashland High football player Lucas Stone as he enjoys the sights and sounds of Japan leading up to Pacific Rim Bowl XI.

July 25 — Practice was later today, a nice break from yesterday. Everyone was physically and emotionally exhausted from the day before, because we had an early practice before being taken to Hiroshima for the rest of the day.

Practices that are the day before a game are generally easier since we only wear helmets and are mostly reviewing plays. Everyone is tense but excited for the game (Sunday). We get the chance to go against a team that is much faster than most of the teams we will play this year so this game should be a good indicator of where we are at. After practice it started to rain really hard. It might have been the hardest I've ever seen it rain, and it continued for a good hour. Roads became rivers and indentations in the ground became overflowing lakes. We were allowed to spend the rest of the day with our host families so everyone went off to different activities.

Ryusuke (my host brother) took Taylor (my roommate) and I to the biggest mall in Osaka and the biggest one I have ever seen. Seven floors and an untold number of stores distracted us for a couple of hours. We kept passing women dressed in silk kimonos and wearing wooden flip-flops.

Taylor and I were puzzled as to why so many women were in the traditional dress of Japan. It turns out that today is the Tenjin Matsuri Festival, which is a huge celebration in Osaka. It is the largest boat festival in Japan and one of the three largest festivals on the four islands of Japan. Fireworks were supposed to go off tonight but the rain made that impossible.

For dinner we had an egg dish that was kind of like an omelet but the wrapping of egg was really thin and it surrounded this deliciously cooked rice. We were tired when we returned home so we went to a sento, a Japanese community bath house. The varied temperatures of water was very soothing and then they also had saunas. Right before we left Ryusuke showed us the pool that put an electric current through the water causing your muscles to tense up, then relax. The sento was very relaxing and it capped off another amazing day in Japan.