Frequently Asked Questions

We have received a lot of questions over the years. Please click on one of the categories below to jump to related questions. If you cannot find the answer here, please get in touch via the contact page .

  About the TSHA     About the Gameplay     About the Schedule
  About the Location(s)     About the Gear     About the People
  About the Safety     About Hockey in Japan     About Other Stuff

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About the TSHA

What does "TSHA" stand for?

"Tokyo Street Hockey Association". Back to top

Are you guys an official league of some kind?

No, we're just a bunch of guys and gals who like to play street hockey. We don't have set teams or uniforms or anything. Each time we play we form teams based on who showed up. Back to top

About the Gameplay

What is "street hockey"?

Street hockey is basically the same game as ice hockey as played by the National Hockey League (NHL) in North America, and other ice hockey leagues around the world. The main difference, is, of course, it's played on the street and not on ice. But the sticks are the same and the rules are basically the same. Back to top

Where did street hockey originate from?

It originated in Canada and the hockey playing areas of the US where kids who loved ice hockey and the National Hockey League would play in their back alleys or wherever there was an open playing surface during the summer months when there wasn't any ice or in towns that didn't get all that cold in the winter. Back to top

Do you guys play on roller blades?

No, we play in running shoes. Back to top

Why don't you guys play on roller blades?

Roller blades may look cool, but because you can't stop and start quickly as you could with ice skates, a game on roller blades is, in some ways, not as exciting as playing with running shoes. There is also the issue that roller blades take an investment in the money to buy them and the effort of bringing them to the rink with you. Our game is more easily accessible.

But probably the main reason we don't play with roller blades is because that's not how we played when we were kids. We were playing street hockey out in the back alleys of our homes long before there were any such thing as roller blades, and so it's a game in it's own right with it's own traditions and nostalgia. Back to top

How do you divide up the teams?

Usually we throw the sticks in a pile and then separate them into two smaller piles. Which pile your stick is in determines which team you're on.

There are usually less women than men, and because of the difference in average skill level, the women throw their sticks into a separate pile. After dividing into the appropriate numbers, they decide for themselves which teams to join.

We play with four men and one woman on the "ice," usually with 2-5 substitutes per team. Back to top

Isn't what you play technically called "ball hockey"?

Call it that if you want. We do play with a ball that is especially designed for hockey and used in ball hockey leagues.

We call it "street hockey because we play anywhere we can in Tokyo, which is a lot like playing in the streets when we were kids. Ball hockey is usually played in arenas dedicated to ball hockey. Back to top

Is what you play similar to field hockey?

We get a lot of guys from South East Asia and Europe who wonder if we play field hockey. We don't. Field hockey is played on grass with short sticks that resemble umbrella handles. What we play more closely resembles ice hockey, and is played on asphalt or concrete with the same hockey sticks that are used in the NHL. Back to top

About the Schedule

What time do play?

We usually play from 8:00PM-10:00PM on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday of the month. However, to know when games are on, what time, and whatever else, you need to join the mailing list .

Also, this calendar should be up-to-date, though if a game is canceled last minute due to rain, etc will probably not be removed quickly...this is where the newsletter and Twitter feed become useful.

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Do you play all year round?

Yes! We play the first, second, and third Friday of every month. The venue changes due to the heat at the indoor rink in the summer, and sometimes our outdoors games are cancelled due to rain. Back to top

Isn't it too cold in the winter?

No! The winter is perfect for hockey! Once you get running around, you're glad for the cooler air. Back to top

Isn't it too hot in the summer?

No! The summer is perfect for hockey! Once you get running around, you're glad to build up such a good sweat. Back to top

Let me guess... the spring and fall are perfect for hockey too?

They are even more perfect for hockey. Back to top

Do you take any breaks at all during the year?

Depending on whether or not members leave for summer or winter holidays, it's possible we might. But we haven't for the last few years. Back to top

What if it rains?

If we are scheduled to play indoors, the game is almost always on (unless trains stop due to a typhoon). If the game is scheduled at an outdoor rink, then it depends on the weather 2 hours before we start. Also, we will send out a group mail if hockey is cancelled. You can follow TokyoHockey on Twitter to get game on, game off notices (the game off notices often include suggest a place to go for beer.) Back to top

I live far away, so maybe it's raining where I am but not at the outdoor rink you will play at. Should I head down to the rink?

No, that's not advisable. The odds of the weather being great where we play and bad where you live are very low. You are welcome to head down to the rink if you're willing to take that gamble, but please don't blame us if it turns out that no one else showed up because of the rain. Back to top

What about after the game, do you guys do anything social?

Sometimes. Depends on the mood of the crowd. What we do depends on which place we play at...though at least one or two people seem to always be looking for beer. Back to top

About the Location(s)

Where do you play?

We play in a few different places, and are always on the lookout for another place. We have maps so you can find them, and we let people know which one we're going to play at when we send out the weekly TSHA Report. Back to top

I know a place you could maybe play. Interested?

Definitely. Contact us and let us know. It would be great if you could check the signs in the area to see if there are any rules for that place that prohibit sports like ours. Also be aware that parks and open spaces are regulated so that technically we're not allowed to play anywhere that park security is tight. Back to top

Can I drive to the rink?

Sure. There are parking lots at the rink or nearby. Fees obviously vary at each location. Back to top

What are the facilities like?

Each place we play at is a little different. It’s best that you check the places page of this site for information on each rink, nearby amenities, and maps. Back to top

What park regulations?

In parks in Tokyo, they have a rule that all activities that are considered dangerous are forbidden. These include just about all sporting activities including roller blading, football, and definitely hockey. However, in some parks they "turn a blind eye" to these activities.

It's essentially a Japanese approach to regulation. Although the rule isn't always enforced, it's there so that we can be kicked out if there is ever any trouble. Back to top

About the Gear

What about Equipment? Where can I buy a stick?

Sticks, clothes, places to buy stuff, and protection are all covered on our Equipment page . Please read that page if you are wondering what to do about sticks or other equipment. Back to top

Can I borrow a stick?

No, but you can rent them for 500yen on your first few times out.

It is getting tougher to find cheap sticks in Tokyo, so if you do need to rent a stick, please let us know which way you shoot, your approximate height, and which night you will play.

Obviously, you need to get a stick eventually. You can find out where to buy sticks on our equipment page .

A cheap stick costs about 4000yen, the composites are closer to 10,000yen. Back to top

What else do I need to bring besides a stick?

Please bring one white and one black shirt. Or at the very least, one very light shirt and one very dark. That way when we divide up the teams, we can match up the shirts and it's a lot easier to know who to pass to.

Other than that, you should check the equipment page to see what kind of protection we recommend. Back to top

Some pictures on the web site show you guys in uniforms, so why do you say you don't have uniforms?

Sometimes we like to make some shirts and pretend we're a team. You can have a shirt too, if you want, and if you're around when we decide to make some. Back to top

About the People

I play field hockey and have a field hockey stick - can I play with you guys anyway?

Sure, but consider renting a normal ball hockey stick from us for the night. Field hockey players who have come out in the past have adjusted quite well to not hunching over so much, and they are already used to the style of running. Be prepared for the style of play and the rules to be quite different from field hockey. Back to top

Can I play?

Definitely! Anyone who has an interest in playing is welcome, whether they've never seen a hockey game before or if they've played in the NHL (believe it or not, one time there was a guy who had - a French Canadian guy who played goal for the Maple Leafs for like, one game or something). We're really easy going and play for fun. It's not a league or an official team in any sense. Back to top

Can women play?

Of course! Since its inception, there have always been women playing with us. Most women who play with us are Japanese, but we currently and in the past have had a few foreign women. Back to top

Is it all foreigners who play?

The people who make up the TSHA are mainly foreigners, most of whom are long term residents. The majority are from Canada or the United States. But we also get French, Finnish, German, Czech, British, Mexican, Korean, and various other nationalities. There are a number of Japanese who play with us, usually young Japanese who have lived abroad somewhere where they were exposed to ice hockey. Back to top

Do Japanese play?

Sure. We welcome everyone, regardless of race, background, whatever. But wherever you're from, you should consider the next point. Back to top

Can I practice my English with you guys?

No. We're here to play hockey and enjoy ourselves, not to be English teachers. Back to top

Are you guys really competitive?

No, we're here for a good time. Every week there's some different people, and so we pick teams then and go for it. Sometimes the games can be a little competitive, and sometimes they're just running around for a laugh. It all depends on the mood of the crowd. Back to top

How many people are in the TSHA?

Our mailing list currently has about 170 people. Of those, about 30 to 40 are active and regular attendees. The rest come infrequently, and there are probably some on the list who have never actually come down to the park to play. Back to top

How many people usually come down to play?

On any given night we have between 10 to 18 people, plus 1 to 3 goalies. Our best turnout ever was just shy of 30 people. Back to top

About Safety

Do people get injured?

Little scrapes and bruises happen occasionally, and more serious injuries are thankfully even rarer. Because we emphasize having fun and discourage high intensity moves like slap shots, injuries are kept down. But of course, you should accept that there is some risk - everyone is running fast on a hard surface, armed with sticks, chasing a fast moving and hard plastic ball. We accept no liability in case you get injured and you assume all risks. Back to top

Do you have a first aid kit or anything like that?

We have a little kit with some band aids and disinfectant and that sort of thing, but no one is a certified nurse or trained in first aid, so we can only help with the small stuff. Back to top

About Hockey in Japan

Do you know of any groups playing street hockey like you guys do in other towns in Japan, like maybe Osaka or Sapporo?

Yes. There is a group in Kobe that tries to play every weekend.

There was a group in Nagoya, but we haven't heard anything from them in a while.

We'd love to do a road trip within Japan and play against some other teams. If you know of a hockey group outside of Tokyo, or thinking of starting one, contact us and we'll support you any way we can and hopefully we can come and play a tourney with you or you can bring a team to the Yamato Cup! Back to top

Do you know of groups playing either ice or roller hockey in Tokyo?

There are groups playing ice or roller hockey around town. There is, or was at least, a group of foreigners playing roller hockey down at Gaien Mae. As for ice hockey, there is, or was, a group called "The Tokyo Canadians" doing semi professional games, and possibly another group in Takadanobaba playing just casual games.

We don't really keep track of them and what they do or who to contact, so you'll have to Google for them. Some of the people who also play in those groups also come play with us, so if you come down to one of our games you might meet someone who knows more about what's going on in other types of hockey in Tokyo. But it can't be guaranteed.

While we support in spirit other groups playing other sports, especially the different forms of hockey, we just can't make any promises about maintaining quality information about them. Most social groups for foreigners in Tokyo fluctuate quite a bit in terms of organization, which makes it tough to keep track of what their status is at any one time. So for that reason, we don't provide a links page, and if you e-mail us asking about other groups, you'll get directed back here.

If you're a member of a group that is playing ice or roller hockey, and your group is stable and consistent enough that you'd like us to add a link here, then please feel free to contact us and say so. Back to top

Where can I watch NHL or other hockey games?

Probably the best option is to get NHL Center Ice. Since we are not in North America, Center Ice does not blackout any games.

Some of our guys will have a get together to watch a game. However, if you want a bar, ones with hockey are tough to come by. Sometimes they will show the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at various sports bars in Roppongi. Back to top

About Other Stuff

There's a lot of information on this site - are you really anal, or do you just have a lot of free time?

The TSHA has been around for over a decade, and all the information on this site has just accumulated over time. Every question, rule, and piece of information on this site was added at one time or another when an issue came up or a question was asked. It is a lot of information, but don't get the impression that the TSHA is at all strict or really intense when it comes to playing street hockey. We just do this for fun, and the web site is just another part of the fun. Back to top

What's the "donut rule"?

If you come more than an hour late, you need to bring donuts for everyone. It's a tradition that started for a few reasons. One is of course to encourage people to get there more or less on time. The other is that it actually kind of sucks when you get some teams divided up, and everyone gets used to playing with each other, and then some guy shows up halfway through and it changes the balance of the teams.

You can bring a reasonable substitute for donuts if donuts are not available, or you prefer something else. Recently TSHA members have been on a health kick, so oranges have been a popular choice. Whatever you bring, it has to be enough for everybody, which means enough for about 12 to 15 people.Back to top

How do I get into the hall of fame?

Just like the Hall of Fame of real leagues, you have to retire. But you also have to do something notable. Back to top

Who decides who goes into the Hall of Fame?

There is no official process, although it usually comes down to the guy who runs this site because he has to do the work of writing text and making the pictures. However, it's usually pretty obvious who has made enough of an impression to merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Back to top

What if I don't like the way this thing is run or have a complaint of some kind?

The TSHA is totally open to new suggestions, but keep in mind that this is purely a volunteer group and the few people who run it have put a lot of time, money, and effort into making this thing happen. Ultimately, if you really don't like the way any part of this is handled and the TSHA does not agree with you, then you might be better off starting your own group. Back to top