Updated: Dec 13, 2019
I visited King Power Stadium on a very cold winter day with strong wind in January for a TV shoot, but the welcome I received from the lovely club historian Mr. John Hutchinson was more than warm. The former-headteacher was a real English gentleman and I was indulged in his knowledgable tour and gentlemanly escort!
As we walked inside the stadium, Mr. Hutchinson pointed a little paint mark on a wall near the ceiling. KP stadium is blessed by Buddhist monks time to time, said the historian. I was totally shocked by the fact that I encountered the Buddhism connection in the right middle of Anglican England.
Later speaking to the fans about this, I found the Thai business man Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's sweet blessing is well received among the locals and in fact quite effective, well at least in Championship... Mr. Hutchinson told me their owner really respects club's heritage. I think it's fascinating a club with rich heritage like the Foxes fuses with Asian culture and leads its way to the top flight.
According to Mr. Hutchinson, this was made possible thanks to the tradition of the city of Leicester, which has accommodated the people from mixed background for centuries. I probably have to say that's a shame it wasn't the case in Cardiff. Another great surprise for me at KP stadium was to find the legendary communal bath. I certainly have heard of it before and have seen the black and white photo of them, but I have never seen it in front of me.
As a Japanese, I love the idea of sharing a big bath. We have Sentoh or Onsen in Japan and it's quite common to bathe with others. It must help raise the team spirit and share the joy of victory. Although I understand it might not be too hygienic, couldn't it be allowed to share a Champaign bath with team mates especially when a huge celebration was needed?
In my trip to Leicester, I met this amazing duo of father and son, Mat and Dylan Mann. Building on Mat's old collection of Leicester City players' autographs, they decided to collect the autographs of ALL the players who
played for the Foxes first team. How many are they? It's over 1000 and counting! They even wrote letters to legends living overseas and received autographs from them.
They also appeared on a local newspaper and now on a international TV. Their achievement truly deserves it! And their dedication to Football was proven by the team shirts sent as a gift to commemorate the important moments of the family, i.e., his wedding and the birth of Dylan, But more than anything else, the great thing about this project is that it will never end. As Mat says, Dylan can pass the collection onto his son and groundson and keep collection over generations. I really hope these albums will be succeeded to many generations to come.
2-4 Market Place South, Leicester LE1 5HB
A must-visit destination in Leicester is Leicester Market, especially if you are a football fan. It is a lively market where local people shop to buy fruits and vegetables. Around the centre of this market, you will find the sign that clearly says 'LINEKERS.' Yes, of course, it has Gary Lineker link.
The stall is no longer owned by Lineker's family, but Lineker's father and Gary himself once worked at this very stall. You can see young Lineker working at the stall in this video on BBC website. Some of workers in the market still remember the time of Gary and his father working here. Under the rules of this market, even after the stall is sold to other owner, the name has to be kept. It still keep entertaining the visitors and media from all over the world as a tourist attraction.
153, Granby Street Leicester LE1 6FE
Lastly, Iet me say Leicester is quite a gourmet city. It's the home of Pukka Pie and Walkers crisps, but I rather insist you should have some authentic curry there. Midland England has a large number of Indian population and therefore has the quality Indian restaurants. As I accidentally stayed in a hotel near one the best rated curry restaurants in Leicester, I had an honour to visit Kayal Restaurant. Their seafood curry was truly fabulous.