sports

We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

We try “Bubble Soccer,” body slam and laugh the entire time

Bubble Soccer, as you might have guessed from the image above, is a game in which every player wears a giant plastic bubble while playing soccer. It’s like any normal soccer game, except you bounce off of your opponent and crash wildly to the floor. But it’s cool, you’re in a bubble so it doesn’t hurt too much. April 4 saw a very special event, one of only a few ever held in Japan, at the Ramos Ruy Indoor Futsol Field in Tokyo. Participants were invited to try their hand at this crazy sport and we showed up for the occasion.

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Adorable judo girls still years away from making us scared, already able to make us smile

Adorable judo girls still years away from making us scared, already able to make us smile

In a way, small children are scary. Their language skills aren’t fully developed, so you can’t negotiate with them. When they’re angry, their lack of adherence to societal norms means they’re likely to scream at or even bite you. Really, the only thing that keeps them from being paralyzingly frightening is the superior size and strength we have as full-grown adults.

So when we first heard about toddlers practicing judo, which would eventually allow them to use our strength against us, we assumed they must be terrifying. Then we watched this video, and learned that they’re somehow even more adorable as a result of their training in Japanese grappling techniques.

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Champion competitive eater Kobayashi goes undercover to punk soccer team in wing eating contest

Champion competitive eater Kobayashi goes undercover to punk soccer team in wing eating contest

Our loyal readers are probably more aware of who Takeru Kobayashi – the infamously voracious Japanese competitive eater – is than the New York Cosmos professional soccer team, but it looks like the Cosmos players weren’t so familiar with the diminutive athlete… Until now.

As part of an elaborate April Fool’s joke, New York Cosmos managers put together a stunt that saw Kobayashi posing as an employee at the frankly quite delicious Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wing chain as the Cosmos team filtered into the restaurant for a meal.

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Each of Mao Asada’s Olympic performances led to a power station’s worth of electricity demand

Each of Mao Asada’s Olympic performances led to a power station’s worth of electricity demand

On 16 March Tokyo Electric Power Comanpy (TEPCO) announced that they discovered a significant increase in power consumption during the early mornings of 20 and 21 February. Those times coincided with both the women’s short program and free skate events in which Mao Asada competed. In each case the increase in demand equaled the amount put out by an entire fossil fuel power plant.

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Soccer fan’s Attack on Titan parody is so awesome it got him a job 【Video】

Soccer fan’s Attack on Titan parody is so awesome it got him a job 【Video】

The other day, faced with another bleakly overcast, freezing cold day, we wife and I decided that the local video store was as far a trip as we were willing to brave the elements for, and came back with a stack of Attack on Titan DVDs. After watching a dozen episodes of the biggest anime hit in recent memory, the only time I’m not bugging her with my rendition of the show’s opening theme is when she’s singing it herself (thankfully, she does a much better job of staying on-key than I do).

There’s just something infectious about the show’s anthem, “Guren no Yumiya.” It’s helped its performers Linked Horizon get famous, thousands of fans get pumped up, and even one soccer fan get a job.

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Jesus joins Japanese and African distance runners in Tokyo Marathon

Jesus joins Japanese and African distance runners in Tokyo Marathon

Last Sunday, the eighth iteration of the Tokyo Marathon was held, with Kenyan Dickson Chumba and Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye setting new men’s and women’s course records, respectively. In fact, the two African nations dominated the race, with citizens accounting for the top seven male finishers as well as the first five women to cross the finish line.

However, somewhere farther back in the pack plenty of attention was given to a Japanese runner dressed as one of history’s most famous natives of the Middle East: Jesus.

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Korean basketball coach humiliates player live on TV, tapes his mouth shut

Korean basketball coach humiliates player live on TV, tapes his mouth shut

This week saw a bizarre incident in the world of Korean pro basketball, when a coach decided that the usual method of yelling at one of his players just wasn’t enough to get his point across. His novel solution? Tape their mouth shut.

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Samsung, IOC deny asking iPhone carrying Olympic athletes to cover their Apple logos

Samsung, IOC deny asking iPhone carrying Olympic athletes to cover their Apple logos

The Olympics gives the world’s most talented athletes a chance to show their abilities to people all over the globe. It also gives the world’s most wealthy marketers a chance to show their products to that same audience.

Among the Games’ biggest sponsors is Samsung, whose Galaxy Note 3 was granted the title of official phone of the Sochi Olympics in thanks of its manufacturer’s generosity. Some reports are claiming that the Korean electronics maker isn’t showing a respect for healthy competition, though, by asking athletes with iPhones to make sure they cover the Apple logo when on-camera.

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This Mario golf bag might not lower your score, but it will definitely give you 1-up

This Mario golf bag might not lower your score, but it will definitely give you 1-up

Golf is one of the hardest sports and if you’re thinking, “NO IT’S NOT!!!” then clearly you’ve never picked up a golf club. Very few people, if anyone, have a “Happy Gilmore moment” where everything instantly comes together and you can get a hole in one on a par four with only a few weeks of practice. So with all those difficulties golfers face out on the course, maybe this Mario bag can help calm them. Miss a putt? No problem, just look into those maniacal blue eyes. Everything’s going to be okay.

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Angry Korean fans not satisfied by apology from British skater who cost their country a gold medal

Angry Korean fans not satisfied by apology from British skater who cost their country a gold medal

While the primary goal of the Olympics is to bring athletes from various nations together for a friendly demonstration of the greatness that can be achieved by the human body, the Games are also a contest to answer the question of just who is the best in the world in its events. The dedication and hard work necessary to even qualify as an Olympic athlete doesn’t come without an extremely strong desire to win, and the competitive juices naturally flow all the stronger for events that don’t get a lot of attention outside of this once every four years opportunity to shine.

But the glory of victory is coupled to the agony of defeat, and Olympic athletes represent entire nations of sports enthusiasts, who sometimes take the defeat of their countries’ athletes with even more bitterness than the competitors themselves. Such is the aftermath surrounding the speed skating collision involving British Elise Christie and Korean Park Seung Hi.

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Rabid Japanese fans label athletes who don’t bring home a medal “tax thieves”

Rabid Japanese fans label athletes who don’t bring home a medal “tax thieves”

With Yuzuru Hanyu taking home Japan’s first-ever gold medal in men’s figure skating, there’s a chance the country’s rabid sports fans will back off on the intense pressure they’ve been placing on the nation’s Olympic team. That’s sure to be a weight off the shoulders of the athletes themselves, as well as former Olympiad Dai Tamesue, who recently took so-called fans of the Japanese team to task for calling athletes who fail to reach the podium parasites.

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Japanese reporter’s luck worse than his preparation as he fails to recognize two medalists

Japanese reporter’s luck worse than his preparation as he fails to recognize two medalists

While Japan has its own baseball and soccer leagues, the steady improvements in ability by Japanese players have ironically led to a talent drain in domestic games, as the best players get recruited to compete on bigger stages in the U.S. and Europe. These days, what really gets Japanese sports fans fired up is international competitions like soccer’s World Cup and the Olympic Games.

With the Winter Olympics going on right now in Sochi, Japanese TV is filled with nonstop onsite reports from the Russian city. In the scramble to get as much content as possible, though, one news outlet sent out its reporter so woefully unaware that he didn’t recognize the two Olympic medalists standing right in front of him, one of whom he was having a conversation with.

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Japanese amateur wrestling champion finds fame online for his taste in nerdy hobbies

Japanese amateur wrestling champion finds fame online for his taste in nerdy hobbies

The man pictured above is Tomoyuki Oka basking in the glow of winning the All-Japan Sambo Championships. Having excelled in the Russian grappling sport, he exhibits all the features of supreme manliness: a square hair-lined jaw, steely and dominant glare, burly muscles that dwarf his first place trophy (the Putin Cup), and a half-hearted effort at those “V” fingers that Japanese people usually pose with in pictures.

But wait a minute… What’s that under his sambovka?

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What will Ma-kun mean for New York?

What will Ma-kun mean for New York?

New York Yankees’ pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 14, and among the new faces will be Masahiro Tanaka, a 25-year-old phenom from Japan who signed a seven-year, US$155 million deal in late January.

Ma-kun, as Tanaka is affectionately known (“kun” is an informal Japanese suffix generally used to address young boys or subordinates), is coming off an unbelievable season, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. He also had eight complete games, more than any MLB team in 2013. Now it’s time to test his arm against MLB lineups.

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The badass attitude of Chinese tennis champ Li Na summed up in one picture

The badass attitude of Chinese tennis champ Li Na summed up in one picture

You might not guess it by looking at her rather glum expression, but in the picture above, Chinese tennis star Li Na is receiving a check for 800,000 yuan — roughly $132,000.

Li’s long face is probably why this picture has now gone viral on Weibo, Josh Chin and Fanfan Wang of The Wall Street Journal note. Netizens just can’t seem to work out why Li, who had returned Tuesday to her hometown of Hubei following her second Grand Slam win, wouldn’t at least feign some type of excitement when being given a check for such a huge amount by Hubei Communist Party chief Li Hongzhong.

What gives?

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Perfectly timed photo at sumo match captures moment of surprising beauty, sumo super powers

Perfectly timed photo at sumo match captures moment of surprising beauty, sumo super powers

Its popularity may be dwindling in today’s world of ultra-rich football and baseball teams and their players, but there’s something wonderfully dignified, almost majestic, about sumo. And as one photograph shared last weekend by the Japan Sumo Association shows, there is perhaps even more magic to be seen if only we could all just slow down and open our eyes a little more often.

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Japanese baseball players’ freedom to chew gum is going, going, gone!

Japanese baseball players’ freedom to chew gum is going, going, gone!

The Yomiuri Giants, one of two professional teams playing in Tokyo, are without question Japanese baseball’s version of the New York Yankees. With huge coffers from which to pay the kind of salaries to attract and retain the talent to be competitive year after year, the Giants are loved at home, admired in markets that don’t have a team of their own, and reviled in those that do.

However, the Giants most recent season ended in bitter disappointment with a game seven loss in the championship Japan series. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the defeat came at the hands of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, an upstart expansion team formed in 2005 that until recently was the league’s doormat.

Clearly, a shakeup is necessary to get the Giants back on the path to glory. Something extreme, like banning chewing gum during games.

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Special photo booths let you pose with sumo wrestlers without having to strap on a loincloth

Special photo booths let you pose with sumo wrestlers without having to strap on a loincloth

Should your visit to Tokyo coincide with a sumo tournament being held in the city, you really owe it to yourself to see the sport in person. Tickets are reasonably priced, the matches are fast-paced and showcase a surprisingly large variety of techniques (many similar to those of offensive linemen in football), and there’s really no way to properly convey the amazing controlled ferocity through a television screen. Best of all, the arena is compact enough that even the cheap seats provide a good view of the action.

And in case you need an added incentive, the venue is now home to two special sticker picture booths, where a little digital photo manipulation allows you to take a snapshot with your favorite sumo wrestler.

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Dole Japan awarding personalised Banana Trophies to 200 runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon

Dole Japan awarding personalised Banana Trophies to 200 runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon 2014 is just a few weeks away, and hundreds of thousands of people are already pushing themselves that little bit harder during their daily training, not to mention paying extra attention to the food they eat, in preparation.

As in previous years, Dole Japan has stepped forward to sponsor the event, providing piles of hand-grown Lakatan bananas, which contain plenty of citric acid essential during exercise, for runners to munch on. This time around though, the company is awarding 200 runners with a very special bite to eat, or perhaps let sit on the shelf and slowly turn to mush: the Trophy Banana, complete with personalised message printed on the skin.

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When it comes to blending art and sport, Japanese athletes represent

When it comes to blending art and sport, Japanese athletes represent

Japan has fared pretty well in the realm of professional sports these days with more and more Nippon Professional Baseball players popping up in the Major League and the recent rise in men’s and women’s soccer.

Even on the streets young Japanese people are pushing their bodies to the limit and creating awe inspiring athletic dance routines and working their way onto the world stage. The following are four such people, Taisuke Nonaka (B-boying), Yohei Uchino (flatland BMX), Kotaru Tokuda (freestyle football), and ZiNEZ (freestyle basketball).

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