Samurai Blue’s heroics generate interest outside stadiums

Sho Komine / The Yomiuri Shimbun
An apartment tower bearing the image of Japan captain Maya Yoshida and a nearby billboard of Japanese supporters have become a tourist attraction in Doha.

DOHA — Japan’s historic toppling of a pair of European giants to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup has generated increased interest in the country beyond the confines of the stadiums.

A number of places around Doha with links to Japan are becoming tourist attractions, and attention has been given to the fact that the subway system that ferries supporters to matches has train cars built in Japan.

An increasing number of people have been converging on a 130-meter-high apartment tower that bears a huge poster of Japan captain Maya Yoshida.

The skyscraper is located in an area of the Qatari capital along a main boulevard, and the image of Yoshida itself measures about 65 meters.

An adjacent shopping mall features a billboard of Japanese supporters that measures about 25 meters by 15 meters.

The images drew few visitors in the days before and just after the tournament kicked off, but suddenly became a magnet after Japan beat powerhouses Germany and Spain.

Those wins secured the Samurai Blue the top spot in Group E and set up a round-of-16 clash against Croatia that was to be played Monday.