Clubs are a big part of student life in Japan. From junior high school all the way through to university, students spend hours away from home with their classmates, immersed in an extra-curricular endeavour of choice. While sporting clubs, music clubs, and culture clubs are common, it’s not everyday you come across a JK club. So when a group of university students posted their pamphlet for new recruits online, even Japanese netizens were left scratching their heads. Could this be a group of JK Rowling enthusiasts? A Japan/Korea appreciation society? The real answer turned out to be just as perturbing, with Japanese commenters still wondering why.
Speed ball, the competitive racquet sport. Not to be confused with the narcotic, boxing, paintball or video game varieties of “speed ball”, this mysterious sport involves one, two, or four players frantically swatting the air as if chasing mosquitoes. In fact, if you live in a country where flies and mosquitoes abound, you probably have a natural advantage and could be the next world champion. Similar to squash in speed and intensity, a latex ball is attached to a nylon thread and swings around a pole. Players take turns smashing the living daylights out of the ball, causing it to spin wildly—this sport is not for the fainthearted or slow-moving.
Invented in Egypt in 1961 by Mohamed Lotfy, speed ball was first designed as a way to train tennis players. Now a sport in its own right, the International Federation of Speed-Ball (FISB) was founded in 1984 by Egypt, France, and of course Japan.
Adidas Japan recently launched its newly designed official shirts for the Japanese national football (or soccer if you’d rather) team, no doubt prompting thousands of fans to rush out and place orders in the name of supporting their side while wearing the same style “samurai blue” uniform.
Ordinarily we wouldn’t pay too much attention to the launch of a mere sporting garment – though we have to admit it is pretty stylish – but the promotional ad that was released alongside it really knocked us for six. Check it out after the jump.
Korea’s top women’s soccer organization, the seven-team WK-League, had its first official season in 2009. The nation’s capital is represented by the Seoul City Amazones, who are sponsored by the metropolitan government.
The star of the Amazones is forward Park Eun-seun. Park is so dominating, that other teams are wondering if there might be more to the striker’s muscular physique than just hard work in the weight room, and have officially voiced their suspicions that Park may be, in fact, a man.
Tokyo-born Rika Usami began her karate career at just 10 years old when she joined a local dojo. Progressing through a number of minor competitions during her teenage years, she soon began winning medals in tournaments in multiple countries, ultimately becoming one of the most well-known female karateka in the world and officially recognised as female kata world champion.
When it comes to kata - the performance of choreographed routines intended to demonstrate proficiency in the execution of learned movements – Rika is simply unmatched, and is admired the world over for her dazzling skills. As you can see in the following video taken during her performance at the 21st WKF World Karate Championships in France last year, her movements are fast, powerful and starlingly accurate.
There are a few unique things about student athletics in Japan. Team activities continue throughout the year, which makes joining one a major commitment. And instead of playing a season of games with the best teams advancing to a playoff, most sports have a few tournaments throughout the year with relatively few competitions in between.
The result of all this is a huge amount of time spent practicing, as opposed to playing games. What’s more, it’s normal for athletes in middle and high school to have mandatory practices not just after class, but before their lessons start in the morning, too.
On the surface, this seems like it should be helpful not only in producing more talented players, but in helping students learn the value of dedication, effort, and proper time management. But this system may be taking things too far, according to legislators in Nagano who are proposing doing away with athletes practicing in the morning.
“Forget the Grand Prix, the real race for the drivers is the flight from Korea to Tokyo tonight on various private jets.” A statement tweeted by F1 writer Adam Cooper on 6 October when the Korean Grand Prix was held.
Sure enough, only a few hours after the race had finished, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso tweeted, “Already in Japan! One of the best GP’s of the year!” This is a move that the Japanese media had taken as a source of pride as well as yet another sign that trouble looms for the beleaguered Korean Grand Prix.
These days, it’s not uncommon for Japanese soccer players to be placed on foreign teams. Shinji Kagawa with Manchester United and Yuto Nagatomo with Inter Milan are just two examples of Japanese athletes who play for teams abroad.
Now, the island country can lay claim to a new rising star, a nine-year-old soccer player who recently signed a contract with the world-famous Spanish soccer club, Real Madrid. Read on for a full introduction to this talented young player, as well as some videos of his amazing play style!
Tag is a childhood game loved worldwide although known by different names depending on the region, and Japan is no exception. Here the game is known as oni gokko (demon play) and follows the same rules aside for the “it” person being called oni, which translates to a demon but is probably more akin to an ogre.
If you happen to be in the Gunma area this month and want to relive some childhood fun playing a classic game, Gunma University and J.League soccer team Thespa Kustasu Gunma are working to set up a Guinness World Record breaking game of Oni Gokko.
On 29 September, the Third Maebashi Mt. Akagi Hill Climb was held in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. It’s a grueling 20.8km (12.9mi) bicycle course climbing Mt. Akagi for a vertical difference of 1.3km (0.8mi) from start to finish.
This year 2,811 people participated and the fastest time was set by Kenichi Miyamoto, completing the course in an impressive 56 minutes and 23 seconds. However, the attention of many locals was grabbed by a rider bearing an uncanny resemblance to the virtual songstress Hatsune Miku. So just who was this turquoise-locked ita-bike rider?
The September 24 bout between Jokoryu Takayuki and Yoshikaze Masatsugu began much like any other professional sumo match. After the starting rituals had been carried out, the referee, or gyouji as he’s known in Japanese, called the giant wrestlers forward, and after a brief pause the men were on each other in a flash, pushing and shoving with all their might as the referee circled, studying their every movement.
What no one expected to happen next, however, was for the enormous foot of 138kg (304lb) Yoshikaze to find its way into the referee’s face as he was thrown to the ground, taking the robed man down with him.
One of Japan’s most ancient sports, sumo is both steeped in tradition and considered to be one of the most demanding in the world. Professional sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, must not only commit to a strict regime of physical training and the daily consumption of gargantuan meals in order to maintain their enormous mass, but also obey rules that cover everything from their hairstyles and the clothing they may wear in public to the use of vehicular transportation.
Although sumo’s popularity in Japan is on the wane, the sport is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, particularly in the United States where groups such as USA Sumo are growing ever larger and receiving more and more media attention with each year that passes. And we’d be willing to bet that after seeing the following video taken at the US Sumo Open 2013 event, even the most sceptical of Western sports fans will start taking sumo a little more seriously.
This Monday was Respect for the Aged Day here in Japan, so we’re celebrating by bringing you this story about an old dude who deserves much respect: 102-year-old sprinter Hidekichi Miyazaki. Not only is this centenarian still very much alive and kicking, he’s breaking world records in the 100-meter dash and dreaming of a race with the world’s fastest man.
Among the many storylines to keep an eye on in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are advancements in the equipment the competitors will be using. As science and technology march on, Olympic athletes have access to sleeker, lighter, thinner gear, allowing them to reach levels of performance above and beyond those of their predecessors.
We’ve seen this happen on the track and in the pool, but it’ll also be happening in the bedrooms of the Olympic Village, likely with the help of Olympic condoms from Japanese manufacturer Sagami Rubber.
Like many a baseball player in Japan, Munenori Kawasaki looks up to Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki. But Kawsasaki has been especially well known for his unflinching support of the future Hall of Famer. Even during his younger days of playing the sport in Kagoshima his style was compared to that of Ichiro.
Years later, on 21 August it would seem the stars aligned just right for Kawasaki as he found himself on the field just as Ichiro made his 4,000th professional hit in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. But Kawasaki’s pure enthusiasm that night might have even eclipsed his hero’s milestone.
Sports are getting way too serious these days. There are juicing scandals, fan fistfights and bench-clearing team-on-team brawls in just about every sport. It’s all just getting a little too heady, don’t you think?
Well, these Italians sure did. So, they took matters into their own hands, and created the hilarious new sport of Bubble Soccer, which finally combines the body contact of sumo wrestling, with the majesty of soccer and the zany antics of old Warner Bros cartoons, much to the amusement of Japan’s netizens.
What’s your 100m sprint time? If it’s over 23.8 seconds, then you’re slower than a 90-year-old! Last month Japan’s Turbo Granny smashed the Japanese record for her age category and now has her sights set on the world record.
For any young man in Japan looking to get into professional soccer, enrollment in Yasu High School in Shiga Prefecture would be a good decision. This school has graduated several pros in Japan and is continuing to build a reputation for soccer skills since winning the National High School Soccer Championship in 2006. In case you don’t believe them, they posted a promotional video on YouTube showing a brief minute-and-a-half flurry of fancy footwork along with surprisingly good cinematography for a high school video.
A lot of ties were certainly worn on heads in Japan last night.
The notoriously subdued Japanese lapsed into rare misbehaving form when the Tuesday night Japan vs. Australia World Cup qualifying match ended in a draw, letting Japan eek out a place on the 2014 roster. Things on the streets of Shibuya, though, were perhaps even livelier.
For the past few years, Kyoto Animation has been one of Japan’s hottest anime producers. With hit titles such as K-ON! (a story of cute girls occasionally playing rock music) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (a story of cute girls occasionally bending the fabric of reality), the studio’s fans have been eagerly waiting to see what Kyoto Animation’s next offering would be.
Earlier this year, Kyoto Animation started a firestorm by producing a short animated teaser focusing on the members of a high school swim team, all male with delicate facial features and ripped abs. Some cried foul that Kyoto Animation would produce even a short clip that didn’t showcase a single cute girl, but others were excited by the prospect of watching a group of guys strip down to Speedos and work their lithe bodies through the water, going so far as to start petitions begging for more.
Kyoto Animation recently answered their prayers by announcing the production of a TV series adaptation of the swimming story, and fans around the world gushed with enough emotion to fill a pool. Read More
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