Homer Simpson, Fred Flintstone, Howard Cunningham, even George Jetson. These are the role models of my youth, the faces of authority, and the men who made bowling cool. Weekends spent at Leisure Lanes took on real significance knowing that these men shared my passion for rolling a 13 pound black and silver swirled ball into the gutter.
Much has happened since those days. My passion and dream of entering the pro-bowlers tour diminished as I faced the challenges of the real world. I stopped going to the bowling alley. Apparently a lot of people did, because bowling alleys have started disappearing like banks after the Lehman shock.
So imagine my youthful exuberance to discover that the world’s largest bowling alley is still live and well and living in Nagoya. The Grand Bowl Nagoya is 162 lanes of pure pin-setting bliss. The venerable attraction boasts three full stories of lanes, snack bars with cardboard food, pro shops teaming with amateurs, shoe vending machines, and an information center–all in a building that has as much ambiance as the local Sokol Hall, or your church or synagogue’s multi-purpose room.
I didn’t waste a moment. I typed the address into my GPS and I was on my way to Nagoya’s southern Midori Ward, where crime is a little higher, the buildings are a little older and the folks don’t go much at night. Once inside the three story parking garage of Grand Bowl Nagoya I locked my doors and went inside.
“Three games for 18 bucks.” That’s what the woman at the information booth suggested. That’s six bucks a game. But an individual game is $6.50 so you do the math. I have no idea what the going rate is, but it seemed like a good deal so I signed up. I selected my shoe size at the AutoShoeser vending machine (pictured above) and found a suitable ball. Then I bowled my three discounted games. The truth about bowling is: it isn’t a boring as it looks, but it is pretty boring. I guess if you’re good at it, it could get pretty exciting, but that’s something I’ll never know for sure. I’m guessing I’m never going to get pretty good at it. Especially If I keep up this rigorous training schedule of bowling three games per decade. Still how many bowlers can say they’ve bowled at the largest bowling alley in the world. Chances are, unless you live in Nagoya, you haven’t joined this exclusive club. But next time you’re in Nagoya don’t let the opportunity pass you by. I’m up for bowling a game or two… or even three.. anytime, so just let me know. It’s already in my GPS — you just pay for the gas.