Being a hockey fan in Japan is not an easy thing. Despite living in northern Japan and even playing hockey in Morioka, it is tough to find my hockey fix. However, with the introduction of a new local team, I think I may have just found what I am looking for. The Tohoku Free Blades.
Professional hockey in Japan has had its share of ups and downs over the years. All of the turbulence is due to the fact that hockey is just not a dominant player in Japanese sport. In a country dominate by baseball, sumo and soccer, sports such and volleyball and even handball routine drown ice hockey in the headlines. There is nothing wrong with that. To each their own I say. But there is a core group of fans and players and for the moment, they have the Asia League to turn to.
The AL is league made up of teams from China, Korea and Japan. they play a regular season followed by a brief playoff tournament. A northern team based out of Hachinohe joined the league last year. They are called the Tohoku Free blades, and they represent my area. I got the chance to see a game when they came to Morioka earlier this year. They played ‘Halla Korea’ the eventual season champions. They lost the game, but it was a fairly exciting game . I would compare it to tier 2 Junior hockey back in Canada, though it did have its Major junior moments. There was even a nice fight that broke out.
Given the instability of the league at moment, I am not going to hold my breathe on how long it was last, but I given some updates to the progress of the Free Blades and their 2010 season when the new becomes readily available. For now I am going to try and purchase a ‘season’ ticket and make sure I can see them when they are playing in their home rink and in Morioka.
In the world of professional baseball, this has been the year of the rising sun. Japan has started to shift into the position of major leaguer in terms of world status. A position that previously might have been questionable.
The winning came early as Team Japan clenched their second World Baseball Championship title, showing the world they weren’t just a one hit wonder(pun fully intended). Championships aside, records also started falling when Ichiro broke the record for 200 hits over nine consecutive years. A record that stood for more than one hundred years.
Then came the spring and summer Koshien tournaments that introduced the world to the stunning arm of Yusei Kikuchi. The young Iwate Prefecture native with the 154km/h fastball took his team, Hanamaki Higashi High School, to within one game of the spring title and two games of the summer Koshien title. He was courted around by the likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox before deciding to start his pro career in Japan and being drafted by the Seibu Lions in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He was requested by 6 pro team. Half of the teams in Japan.
Kikuchi wasn’t the only person causing a stir in the northern Tohoku region. The Rakuten golden Eagles, based out of Sendai, made their way into second place in their league and got themselves into the second round of the Climax series. With ace pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, and lead by the experienced Katsuya Nomura(a man famous for turning faltering teams into champions), they also had strong batting and solid fielding to carry them through the season.
Of course last, but certainly not least came the dream run of the New York Yankees, lead by their series MVP, Hideki Matsui and his amazing 6 RBIs during the final game, and three home runs over the series. Matsui helped the Yankees win the world series and became the first Japanese born player to earn the MVP.
I’m sure there are smaller stories from this year that I am missing, but I wanted to emphasize the biggest of all of these amazing feats. Japan is now a major force in the highest levels of baseball, and anyone who took Japan less then seriously before in terms of talent had better open their eyes. Their wave of winning and exciting play has stirred up a lot of passion in baseball fans all over Japan and the world. I played ball for eight years when I was younger and now, thank to Japanese baseball, I am starting to rekindle my love of the sport. Kudos to you Japan on giving us all another reason to love baseball.
I recently made a new friend in the Hachimantai area. That in itself isn’t all that interesting. What is interesting is that she kept telling me how she would go to these Indiaca tournaments in Akita, and I honestly had no clue what she was talking about. When she mentioned it, I’d just kind of smile, wave and carry on with the conversation.
Well Today she emails me and tells me that she won her first Indiaca event. At this point, curiosity took over and I had to find out what this was all about. A quick Internet search revealed that Indica is a game developed in Germany by a man named Karl Hans Krohn. It was originally based off of a Brazilian game called “Peteca.”
The rules of the game are strikingly similar to volleyball. In fact, the game is played using a net very similar to a volleyball net. The ball, however, seems to be a mix betwwen a curling rock and a badminton bird. Japan seems to really have taken to this sport. There are over 800 000 Indiaca players in Japan, as opposed to Europe, where there are only 100 000 players. The game is called “インデイアカ” or “Indiaka” in Japan.
I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this game until now. I’ve lived here for 4 years now, and it has somehow evaded my sports radar. How about that.
On his way, originally uploaded by jasohill.
There was a gerneral competition and a competition set aside for pro competitors. You really have to attend a live biathlon to understand all the work that goes into competing in this grueling sport.Not only are all the athletes expert marksmen, but they are also flawless cross country skiers. Missing just one target will cost you precious time, so they train to hit all five targets every time. My local board of education was responsible for running the event.
New photographs from Hachimantai will be posted every Thursday. All hachimantai photos can be found in my Hachimantai set on flickr.
We had a great time in Niigata. We skied for three glorious days, and partied for two spectacular nights. However, I really should have remembered it was my first time out this season. I ended up hobbling around most of this week due to the agony of 筋肉痛（kinnikutsuu), or muscle pain. I was also stupid enough to try out one of the beginner ski jumps. Let’s just say that when ass and head end up in reverse positions, things did not fair well.
I did notice one thing about skiiing in Japan this weekend. I learned that no matter where you go, whether it is a crowed Tokyo street, a packed bullet train, or even the top of Mount Fuji, you will find a mass of people. Playing dodge person with five hundred other skiers and snowboarders can make for a stressful run. I only slammed into three people the enire time, so I suppose it isn’t all that bad.
I bet you’re wondering just what I’m going to talk about today. I’m sure the title doesn’t say much about the topic, so I’ll start this by talking to you about the way words are shortened in Japanese.
Many languages do this, so it’s not really a surprise, but you would be surprised by some of the words that come from shortening longer ones. Take for example ファミコン（Famicom.) This word is short for “Family Computer.” Another popular example is the word ポケモン（Pokemon.) You all know this word. Of course it’s short for “Pocket Monster.” If you want to get used to the Japanese language, then you will have to start adjusting to words like these. I warn you know, however, that is take some time. I’m not even there myself.
You see, I teach in an area surrounded by mountains and snow. Along with these amenities come skiing. In my previous town, I had never heard any ski lingo before, but now I’m hearing it everyday, and there is just one word I cannot get out of my head. That is is クロカン（Kurokan.)
This lovely little word originates from the longer word クロスカントリー（Cross Country) and I cannot wrap my brain around it. For some reason I think people are talking about “Croaking.” I’m sure it will fade into my linguist database eventually. It’s just a matter of time. Here is a little quiz for you. Find out what these shortened Japaense words mean.
Bonus: ブリちゃん （bricchan) ——
The task is a simple one. I need a ski outfit so I can enjoy a little sledding with my preschool class. There is only one problem with this situation. I am an large western male and I live in Japan. There could not be a worse outcome to this problem.
Continue reading ‘The Gauntlet of Girth’
I’m not quite sure how I get myself into these situations. At one point this year I agreed to run a relay marathon. Well, this past Sunday I had to own up to my promise. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, except that I agreed to run six kilometers when I would have been happier just running four. Two days of 筋肉痛（muscle pain) later and I’m back to where I was before I started the race. Overall, we had a good time. This year we had a team of seven runners and we were able to complete the race is three and half hours, putting us in 56th place. I can now add a relay marathon to my checklist of completed runs. Here are some pictures from the event.
Oh, and for those who didn’t know, Appi is usually a ski resort. In fact, it is one of the most famous in Japan.
For a full list of all the participants and the results, check at their offical page, here
. If you are interested in participating next year, that is the place to sign up. You can have up to 12 people on your team. The page is only in Japanese. If you want a translation, feel free to ask me for one. Here is a picture of me during the run, and then a picture of our marathon team.
I think this comic sums up what happened the other night. It’s hard to explain to my coworkers that the reason I’m bummed out is because of the result of a hockey game. It doesn’t show when I teach my classes, but I can’t hide it at my desk. It will pass in time, I hope.
In other news, I have only six weeks remaining on the JET program. I am preparing my immigration paperwork and I am getting ready for my move. I will fill you all in on what it takes to transfer from one job to another in Japan. Stay tuned!
Tomorrow is game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. I didn’t think the Oilers would ever take it this far. They have surpassed my wildest expectations. All that is left now is one game.
One cup, one dream, one goal, one game.
I will once again avoid the live broadcast so that I can see it after work. I may be late in joining in on the festivities, but I’ll be there eventually. I’ll see you all on the other side. GO OILER GO! Best wishes from Iwate, Japan.