TOKYO (Reuters) - Ranked 22nd in the world, Canada are not expected to go far at the World Cup but they have gone the extra mile in soaking up Japanese culture, with players donning yukata at every chance and trying their hands at traditional rice harvesting.
Yukata, a traditional garment but less formal than the kimono, has become the preferred item of leisure wear for the Canadians during meals and trips to hot spring baths.
“I will be wearing them as much as I can,” 25-year-old lock Josh Larsen told the World Cup website at their training camp in the coastal city of Nagato.
“Shower up, get into one now and then, spice it up, change it up. They’re very comfortable.”
The World Cup kicks off on Friday when the hosts meet Russia at Tokyo Stadium but Canada’s opener is not until Sept. 26 when they meet Italy, leaving the players time to learn local customs like rice farming.
“The scale of it here is so much smaller than back home,” said prop Hubert Buydens, whose family is involved in farming in Canada’s prairie province of Saskatchewan.
“Here it’s a little combine machine that harvests rice and back home you can get in the house and drive it around ... it was interesting to see how everything is done.”
Canada, who also play defending champions New Zealand, South Africa and Namibia in Pool B, will also look to squeeze in soba noodle preparation and net fishing into their schedule.
“It’s such a unique and different culture to what we’re used to back home,” prop Cole Keith said.
“Every chance we get to go do something, all the boys were keen to go and try everything.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Ransom