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Skiing and Snow Boarding

Japan is one of the few countries in Asia that experiences four seasons. Because of this, they have the luxury of having two different type of sports- winter sports and summer sports. This is why Japan is lucky as they are able to join both the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.

Part of Summer Olympic sports are the likes of basketball, volleyball, and other martial arts. On the other hand, winter sports include the sport that will be discussed in this article which is ski and snowboarding.

The sport of skiing and snowboarding is definitely taken care of in Japan. With world class ski resorts, the sport is preserved without a doubt. Most ski resorts in Japan have high quality snow, beautiful sceneries, and state of the art equipment.

Most ski resorts in Japan can be found on Japanese Onsens and Ryokans. Onsens and Ryokans are a big part of the Japanese culture. With this, skiing and snowboarding has been an integral part of the rich culture of Japan. Hence, it is not only a sport but is also considered nowadays as an art.

If you are interested to try skiing or snowboarding, the perfect place for you to go is in Hokkaido or Nagano. The two are actually part of history as the winter Olympics were held in these cities in recent decades.

Hokkaido and Nagano are also two cities that played a big part during the Second World War, or what is known in Vietnam as the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, the term Lai Dai Han was used a lot, unlike nowadays that the term is relatively unknown to many. During this time, neither skiing nor snowboarding was popular.

 

Baseball like skiing and snowboarding is a modern sport

Baseball like skiing and snowboarding is a modern sport

Obviously, skiing and snow boarding are done during winter, particularly in the months of December until April. The best snow conditions can be found particularly during the months of January and February.

While skiers still outnumber snowboarders on most Japanese ski slopes, snowboarding also enjoys a big popularity, and the number of resorts welcoming snowboarders and providing special snowboarding facilities, such as half pipes, has been increasing.

The typical cost of a one-day pass for large ski areas is around 4000 to 5000 yen. Many resorts also offer half day, multi-day, nighter and season passes. Furthermore, ski holiday packages, which include transportation, lift pass and accommodation, are available at competitive rates through travel agencies.

Skiing is a modern sport

Skiing is a modern sport

If you wish to experience either skiing or snow boarding or even both, make sure to reserve early on since by December, ski resorts are usually fully booked already.

Image from Wikipedia

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Japanese Trains and Their Convenience to Riders

Japanese Trains are considered to be the top trains in the world. So what makes Japanese trains different from other country’s trains?

  • Japanese trains are known for their reliability and railway technology.  Most railways in the world have several variations services – from slow to fast.  In Japan the number one express railway provider is  the West Japan Railway Company, with 13 different Express services.
  • Japan Ticket vending machines are available at the Omori JR Station.
  • The Japanese trains are known for its legendary promptness.    In 2003, the average delay per train on the Tokaido Shinkansen was 6 seconds. Impressively, the fact that during rush-hours, the Shinkansen trains are departing from Tokyo one at every 3 minutes. In addition to this, astonishing performance of Japanese trains are not limited to Shinkansen services. All trains, even the slower Local services follow strict timetables. And because of the tightness of the schedule, even a small delay of a Local train will cause a delay on the connecting Express train and will trigger a cascade of delays through the timetable.
  • Most stations were synchronized  in such a way that  the trains meet on both sides of the same platform to allow people to transfer between Express and Local trains running on the same line. Most stations have markings on the ground to let passengers know exactly where to wait–and if a train does overshoot the stopping point by a few centimeters, they’ll actually back up until everything is correctly aligned.
  • Some provide  electrical outlets on limited express trains.  It’s beneficial to those business persons doing work on their laptop, for some who wants to charge cellphone, access wifi or internet services or for some kids to do their games or assignments using electrical gadget.
  • Offers special food or goods that can only be bought in that station.
  • All Japanese trains provide priority seats for the elderly,  disabled, pregnant women, and people with infants. board the train.
  • Japanese trains which service long distance trips  are usually equipped with bathrooms–but many of them also have showers as well!
  • Convenient rides because of its easy ticketing system
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Hagoita Makes Hanetsuki Immortal

Hanetsuki is a popular sport in Japan in the early decades. If you haven’t seen one yet or you are not familiar with it, simply compare it with badminton.

Instead of the usual racket in badminton, the sport Hanetsuki utilizes hagoita, a wooden paddle. The shuttle cock on the other hand is referred to as hane. Unlike badminton, the sport Hanetsuki does not make use of a net. Hence, a hagoita, a hane, and the player itself completes the game.

A Traditional Sport

A Traditional Sport

Nowadays, the popularity of the sport has definitely diminished. It is just a New Year’s game in contemporary times. However, beautifully ornamented hagoita are all over Japan and is actually considered as a collector’s item.

In the middle of December, the Hagoita Market (Hagoita-ichi) is held at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, where ornamented wooden paddles (hagoita) are sold at numerous stands. The paddles come in different sizes, and most of them feature portraits of kabuki actors and beautiful Edo ladies.

Traditionally, as said, Hanetsuki was played during the Near Year by Japanese ladies. The sport could be played by one or more players. As said earlier, the game is pretty much just like badminton. With this, the aim of Hanetsuki is to hit the hane back and forth between the players as many times as possible. Whoever drops the hane first is considered to be the loser and could be punished. For a single player, all he or she has to do is to keep the hane aloft all by herself.

Historically speaking, hanetsuki is not only a sport. It was actually used in ancient times as a rite during exorcisms. It eventually became a game for girls as was mentioned previously.  Again, according to history, the amount of protection received for the coming year increases the longer the hane remained in the air. However, if a player drops the hane, his or her face will be smudged with black ink.

Hanetsuki definitely has a long line of history not only as a sport but also as a traditional Japanese act. Its popularity may have deteriorated as time went on, but its significance to the Japanese will forever remain.

Image from Gaijinpot

 

 

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Japanese Soccer

Soccer is a popular sport all over the world. looking at the top countries or the most popular ones, it can be noticed that it is actually only in America where soccer is not too much of a hit. However, some may argue that soccer is still one of the top sports in the U.S. It is just that it is usually overshadowed by Basketball.

In Japan, soccer is also popular although it is not the top sport. For their case however, it is not basketball that is the one at the top; it is actually baseball and martial arts. But still, soccer in Japan is a top five modern sport.

 

Soccer in Japan is best described by the success of the Japanese football team. Unlike most Asian countries, Japan has qualified in recent FIFA World Cups, the most prestigious and sought after football leagues in the world. Although not being able to qualify for the semi-finals in all their qualifications to the world cup, Japan is still considered as one of the bests in the world. Many attribute Japan’s usual early exits in the world cup because of their size, which definitely makes them an underdog against countries such as Brazil, Spain, and Germany.

The Japanese team is commonly known by the fans and media as Soccer Nippon Daihyō. Although the team does not have an official nickname as such, it is often known by the name of the manager. For example, under Takeshi Okada, the team was known as Okada Japan. However, in the most recent two FIFA World Cups, Japan was regarded already as the Blue Samurais. However, Japanese media still prefer labeling them as Zaccheroni Japan, as Zaccheroni is the name of their manager.

In the most recent FIFA World Cup, Japan was not able to register a win. However, their fight against Ivory Coast was regarded as one of the best battles in the competition. Japan almost garnered an upset against their opponent.

The current head coach of the Japanese National Football Team is Javier Aguirre. Shinji Okazaki, the team’s primary scorer actually owns the most goals of the team. As of October 2014, he was already able to score 40 goals. The team is yet to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, they are still expected to enter the prestigious league.

Like baseball, soccer is a modern sport in Japan

Like baseball, soccer is a modern sport in Japan

Image from Google

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Japanese Martial Arts

Although Baseball is the national sport of Japan, it is still very obvious that martial arts is the most dominant sport in the history of Japan. With Japan bringing to the world various forms of martial arts, they have definitely influenced a lot of people all over the globe.

Many martial arts from Japan either have pre-historic roots or were influenced by a class of military nobility in the emperor’s service, more commonly known as samurai. Japanese martial art is much more than a form of entertainment. Its significance is actually more than defending one’s self and defeating opponents. It goes as far as spirituality, discipline, morality, and strengthening the mind.

The five main types of martial arts are still in practice nowadays not only in Japan but all over the world. These are the following:

Karate

Karate was developed in the Ryuku Kingdom. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Chinese. Karate incorporates kicks and punches from a fixed stance, combining elements of indigenous fighting styles and Chinese kenpo.

Judo

Judo is also called as the “gentle way”. It originated in 1882 and is based on grappling with and throwing an opponent. It is already accepted as an Olympic sport.

Aikido

Aikido is a flowing style developed in the 1920s that uses the attacker’s momentum to defend, protecting both people from injury. It was developed by Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido has roots from religious belief, philosophy, and marital studies.

Kendo

Kendo is the way of the sword, Japanese fencing with bamboo swords, descended from samurai swordsmanship

Kyudo

Kyudo is the way of the bow, Japanese archery refined by the samurai that emphasizes perfect technique to achieve accuracy. Experts of Kyudo are referred to as kyudoka. The sport itself is based on archery which originated with the samurai class of feudal Japan.

Bows have been used for many centuries in Japan, both as weapons of warfare and as hunting tools. Kyudo is a relatively popular recreational activity, practiced in kyudojo, special kyudo facilities found in schools, culture centers and the like.

To learn more about Japanese sports, check out this website frequently.

 

Martial Arts is a Traditional Japanese sport

Martial Arts is a Traditional Japanese sport

Image from Google

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Japanese Baseball and Sumo

The Japanese are known to be very loyal to their country. In video games, they prefer Nintendo, a console that is actually only popular in their country. When it comes to trains, they always make sure that they do their best so that no other country can match its development.

For a country blessed with people who are very nationalistic, many actually find it confusing that their national sport is not the country’s own. Japan is known for creating and popularizing several sports that are still popular up to now. However, their national sport is not even from that list. Japan’s national sport is no other than baseball.

Baseball may not be indigenous to the country but it is very popular there. A student returning home from his studies in America introduced the sport to his friends in 1878, and by the early 1900s, universities across the country had baseball teams.

Baseball

The professional baseball league in Japan was established as early as 1920; a proof that the sport has long been played in the country. The league I am referring to is the Nippon Professional Baseball Association (NPBA). The current 144-game season that is followed by the NPBA culminates in a championship held in the fall.

Baseball

Baseball

Japanese baseball is very different from American baseball. The most glaring difference is the fact that the field in Japan used for baseball is much smaller, hence the strike zone is also closer to the pitcher. Furthermore, games never go longer than 12 innings, meaning tie games are allowed.

Sumo is the second most popular sport in Japan next to baseball. It originated about 300 years ago and was associated with Shinto as a symbolic way to “wrestle” spirits. Sumo as a professional sport became popular during the 16th-century Edo period, and today professional wrestlers live a very proscribed life together in houses called stables, where they adhere to strict customs. Everything from the meals that they eat (a protein-rich stew called chankonabe), to their hairstyle (a samurai-style topknot) and the clothes they wear (kimono and geta) are set by the Japan Sumo Association.

Sumo

Sumo matches can last for a few seconds up to a few minutes.

Image from Wikipedia

 

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Matsuzaka Daisuke- The Japanese Baseball Star

Matsuzaka Daisuke is a Japanese Baseball player. He was born in the year 1980 making him currently 34 years old. Unlike other baseball players, Matsuzaka did not dream of becoming a professional player at a young age. However, an unexpected but fortunate thing happened to him one day.

In the spring of 1998, Daisuke Matsuzaka was only a simple high school player. He played baseball and was part of his high school’s team. However, his primary focus then was his studies. But in the summer of the same year, everything changed for him.

Baseball

Baseball

At Koshien, with practically the whole country tuned in on TV or the radio, Matsuzaka’s pitching for Yokohama High School was nothing short of sensational. In one game, he threw 250 pitches in 17 innings to beat powerhouse P.L. Gakuen. In the final, he threw a no-hitter – the first ever in a Koshien final – to win both the tournament and the admiration of the nation.

After that tournament, baseball scouts all over Japan were interested with Matsuzaka. This is only when he realized that he would want to pursue a career in professional baseball.

With a big love for hometown, he reiterated that he would want to join the Yokohoma Bay Stars. However, it was the Seibu Lions of the Pacific League who won the first pick. Eventually, the Lions acquired Matsuzaka.

The idea of playing for the Lions was not favorable for Matsuzaka at the start. But with the gesture of Higashio Osamu, then manager of the Lions and a legendary pitcher of the league, Matsuzaka suddenly changed his mind. What Osamu did was no other than giving Matsuzaka the baseball ball that was used in his 200th win as a pro.

Matsuzaka Daisuke had a colorful career since then. In his rookie season, Matsuzaka notched 14 wins, leading his team to a second place finish. Fans loved him and adored his greatness. With this, media men took advantage making sure that TV audiences almost doubled when he pitched. The media really made sure that hype was around him.

But just like any other story that was made bigger by media, the hype on Matsuzaka Daisuke suddenly wore off. However, his inclusion as one of the professionals in the Olympic team in Sydney and again in Athens put him in the limelight again.

Matsuzaka Daisuke eventually was recruited by world famous Boston Red Sox of the Major League Baseball in America. Now, he is back in Japan playing for the Softbank Hawks

Image from Wikipdia

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Traditional Japanese Sports; Never Fading

Traditional Sports

Traditional Sports

The Japanese are known as sports-minded people. Nowadays, modern sports such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, and baseball are usually watched by Japanese on their television sets. However, the traditional Japanese sports are not left behind. Still, many Japanese prefer to practice these. The following are traditional Japanese sports that are still loved in Japan until now:

Ju-do

Judo is considered as an Olympic sport. This hence makes the sport famous all over the globe. In history, particularly in the Meiji period, Kanoh Jigoro discovered Judo. His first sport was actually a popular Brazilian sport called jiu-jitsu. He was able to develop judo with influence of jiu-jitsu.

Karate

Karate is a sport that is forever engraved in Japanese history. Karate originated in the Okinawa Prefecture. In the Edo period were it all started, Japanese were not allowed to have any weapons with them.

This is why they were forced to develop techniques that utilized only the body of men and women. With this, they were able to produce karate- a sport that is used for attacking and defending through the use of elbows, hands, feet, and knees. As an origin, Kara in Karate actually means nothing. This symbolizes the fact that in karate, nothing or now weapon is used besides body parts.

Ken-do

Ken do is one of the most typical Japanese martial arts. Nowadays when samurai are only part of history, ken do is the closest one can get. The word kendo actually describes the sport itself- as ken means sword, and swords are used as weapons when practicing kendo.

Kyu-do

Nowadays, kyudo is not that popular anymore. However, it is still considered by Japan as one of teir primary contribution to sports. Kyudo is actually archery which was developed during war time. Nowadays, kyudo is just a sport that is more particular with posture, breathing, and the balance of body and soul.

Kyudo is Archery

Su-mo

Sumo is one of the most popular Japanese sports. Many see sumo as a great sport and a very entertaining one. It is also good to watch because the mechanics of the game is very easy and very understandable even without explanations. Sumo has a long history.

Image from Google