”Reina Tokoku on tottunut Suomen säähän ja vapaampaan pelitapaan


Hey Reina! How are you doing?

I’m doing great! At last I’m used to the Finland weather! Now I’m not feeling cold so much. :)

You came to Finland and Puijo mid-season in December. How was the experience? Was it hard to adapt to new team and Finnish winter?

Honestly, it was really hard for me. First of all, getting used to the cold weather and fixing the time difference from Japan was difficult in December. 

There wasn't much sun either...

And this is my first time playing abroad, so it took me a while to get used to the team in volleyball as well. 

However arriving in Finland on Independence Day, it felt like destiny!

Maybe it was destiny? I guess you’re already used to the cold, but how about volleyball? Any surprises there Finland vs. Japan?

It is totally different from Japan. Japanese volleyball is  very complicated and there are many rules in playing, but Finnish volleyball is very simple and I was surprised by the difference. I felt that the emphasis is on allowing the players to play freely. 

Sometimes I think that it’s not enough to win, but it is a good experience for me to know that this is the Finnish volleyball style.

Oh really?! Do you mean there are rules from the coach?

Yes. In Japan, there are many detailed rules, and there are many types of signs when playing offense, and several rules of movement when making receptions. Japanese teams have their own rules for various situations, such as watching and judging the moves of your teammates, and watching for signs given by your teammates and moving accordingly.

So Japanese volleyball is brain-numbing! :’D

Wow, interesting! I have to watch few matches from Japan!

Yea!! You should someday!

So you have enjoyed the freedom of European style of play?

Hmm? Well, maybe yes?? I don't know. :D

In Finland, everyone enjoys playing freely and spontaneously I think it’s really good thing, but sometimes I feel struggled  to play because there are no rules or signs…

But now I really enjoy playing volleyball in Puijo.

I guess you learn that free style over time… But how did you end up playing volleyball in the first place?

I started playing volleyball when I was 8 years old and my friends invited me and I started.

How does the junior sports thing work in Japan? Was it school related or a totally different thing?

There are sports clubs related to schools, and there are ones separate from the school. 

In my case, I was on a very tough team in a sports club separate from the school, and we were the strongest team in the my living area, so we always won our games.

Most of the time, the sports clubs that are serious about strengthening growing kids are separate from the school. It is the same for all sports.

Your very first club is said to be Japan Airybees…?

The Airy Bees is a team owned by a company and it’s a professional club team. I joined the club after I graduated from high school.

Okay! So now I got it! It’s funny how different the junior systems are around the world!

Yes, it’s very different.

Have you always been an opposite hitter or did you do other positions too?

I've been doing both for a long time, and honestly, I can do both as an opposite and an outside hitter! I'm just more comfortable hitting from the right side (position 2), but I'm also used to attacking from the left side(position 4).

Other than attacker, I have played libero and middle blocker. It was only for a short period of time.

Nice! You’ve see action all over court!

:’D Thank you for saying that!

One interesting difference is that in Japan opposite also receives serves and defends more, am I right?

Yes, you are right!!

How does that fit in Puijo’s game?

Opposite players also participate in receiving. I used to be a receiver in Japan. Instead, the outside hitter would sometimes concentrate on the attacking and offense.

It is a good experience to be able to concentrate on the attack, although it feels a little less play in Puijo because there’s so small role to play. No reception here.

Few more questions: Where do you see yourself in few years? Would you like to continue your career as a pro in Europe or do you have other plans?

That is a very good question!! That is exactly what I am thinking about on a daily basis.

I am here in Finland and every day is exciting and a great experience to have, but to be honest, I am not confident that I will be able to continue playing volleyball in Europe. I am short, I have more volleyball skills to learn, and there are many things I am lacking….

I also have a goal to go back to Japan to become a professional beach volleyball player because I have played beach before.

But I also have a goal to go to university to study and improve my academic skills because I did not go to university…

Life is difficult!

I want to be able to make the best choice among many options.

I guess all athletes think about the next step. Which would be the wisest one…

Yes, true. I can't be a player forever. People get older…

And as I am a woman and would like to have a family and children, I need to consider the choice of the next step even more carefully. I'm looking forward to the rest of my life!

OK, one more thing! The playoffs are just around the corner! Are you already excited over them? Being no. 1 in regular season and so on…

The team is very excited! I am also very excited. I am happy to be playing with my very dependable teammates. I wish we can continue to win and show how strong we are in the playoffs. This will be the first time in my life that I have played in a foreign league, and I really want to finish with a win with my team mates. 

Thank you for the interview, Reina! It’s a huge pleasure to have you in Puijo!

Thank you Antti!! It was very interesting.

Reinan pelaajakortille tästä.

Teksti: Antti Hirsaho

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