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Puroresu

Puroresu is a genre of professional wrestling in Japan. The term actually comes from “professional wrestling”, which was usually referred to simply as “pro-wrest” in Japan. With the Japanese’s way of speaking in English, pro-wrest sounded something like puroresu.

The most popular puroresu fighter is Sorakichi Matsuda. There were subsequent attempts before and after World War II to popularize the sport in Japan, but these generally failed until the advent of its first big star, Rikidōzan, in 1951, who became known as the “father” of the sport. Rikidōzan brought the sport to tremendous popularity with his Japanese Wrestling Association (JWA).

Amidst the tragedy experienced by Rikidozan, puroresu gained popularity and eventually thrived. Throughout, a variety of personalities, promotions, and styles were created. A number of promotions opened and closed; some stayed in the industry for long while some quickly went out of business. As a whole though, it can be said that puroresu is generally successful. Perhaps the most successful, popular and thriving companies that still exist up to this date is New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Puroresu is a modern sport with traditional history

Puroresu is a modern sport with traditional history

Despite some similarities to the much more popular style of professional wrestling in the United States, Japanese wrestling is known for many differences from the Western style. Puroresu is known for its “fighting spirit” and the wrestlers are known for their full contact strikes. Many Japanese wrestlers have some degree of knowledge in many different martial arts and wrestling styles; because of this, there are usually doctors and trainers at ringside for assisting the wrestlers after a match.

Puroresu has a variety of different rules, which can differ completely from wrestling in other countries. While there is no governing authority for puroresu, there is a general standard which has developed. Each promotion has their own variation, but all are similar enough to avoid confusion.

It should be also noted that the term “Puroresu” in Japan refers to all professional wrestling, regardless of country of origin. For example, American promotions WWE and TNA are referred to as “Puroresu” in Japan.

Image from Google

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Basketball in Japan

In an article released by APG Sports, written by Kaz Nagatsuka, it was repeatedly insisted that Japanese basketball is fast declining. The title actually caught my attention. It was posted as “Basketball in Japan Is a Directionless Mess with Few Fans, Few Stars… Oh! But Plenty of Teams”

The writer, Kaz Nagatsuka could actually have a valid point. As reported by the same website, Japan has 33 professional and semi-pro basketball teams. With this big number of basketball teams, it could seem as if basketball is the primary sport in Japan. However, it is not a secret to many that basketball is well behind other modern sports such as baseball and football.

Comparing the number of basketball teams in Japan to that of China and America, it can easily be noticed that Japan’s is really so much more. China and America with much larger populations and fan base have 18 and 30 teams in their respective basketball leagues.

According to apgsports, basketball in Japan lags embarrassingly far behind its rivals in the the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) and J-league (soccer) in terms of fan participation, stadium ticket sales, televised games, as well as ad revenue that would normally be derived from broadcasts of games.

Currently, there are two major basketball leagues in Japan. This was the scenario since the year 2005. This is obviously the reason why the number of basketball teams in Japan is so much. But with a lot of basketball teams, the level of competitiveness has definitely declined. There are a lot of issues in the two leagues as well. The battle of corporate ownership against city/town based team forming is still a growing issue until now. players have also preferred to go to teams where they can earn more instead of joining or staying put in teams where they can win. And more unfortunately, the dream of finally sending a Japanese basketball player in the NBA for a long run has dimmed.

Basketball is a modern sport

Basketball is a modern sport

A merger is the only viable course of action to improve the game of basketball in Japan. The only obstacle aside from legal and logistical hurdles is of will. The will of the corporations that own the stronger clubs and who resist any attempts to change over to an entirely professional league for the betterment of the game. Japan’s men’s basketball is at an important crossroads, it must take action sooner rather than later, as said by Nagatsuka.

Image from Google

 

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J.R Sakuragi

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in the world. However, in Japan, basketball is not the primary sport. Some may argue that traditional sports such as martial arts and sumo are the top sports in the country. On the other hand, others claim that modern sports such as baseball and soccer are. But still, the popularity of basketball in the country cannot be denied. As a matter of fact, Japan has been a consistent contender in the most prestigious competition in the region- the FIBA Asia Basketball League.

However, because of the Japanese’ natural lack in size, they have not qualified in any major FIBA event in recent memory. But in fairness to them, they have consistently been in the top 7 in Asia.

A player that can be lauded for Japan’s success in international basketball is no other than J.R Henderson, more popularly known as J.R Sakuragi.

J.R Sakuragi, born Milton Henderson Jr., is an American born professional basketball player. In the NCAA, he played for the UCLA Bruins getting a championship in the year 1995. As a pro, Henderson played with the defunct Vancouver Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association.

Unlike in America, Baseball is the number 1 sport in Japan, not basketball

Unlike in America, Baseball is the number 1 sport in Japan, not basketball

JR Sakuragi

The 6’8 forward was a two-time member of the All-Pac 10’s first team and appeared in 30 games for the Grizzlies during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season before embarking on an overseas career. That career eventually led him to the Japanese league’s Aishin Sea Horses and, eventually, the opportunity to play for the country’s national team as a naturalized citizen.

Because of Henderson’s appeal to the Japanese, they have finally decided to naturalize the power forward. In 2007, he officially became a Japanese citizen due to naturalization. With this, he also changed his name to J.R Sakuragi as a tribute to perhaps the most popular basketball icon in the country, Hanamachi Sakuragi of the Japanese Manga and anime, Slam Dunk.

It cannot be denied that J.R Sakuragi has done a lot for Japanese basketball. Without him, they wouldn’t have been in the run for the top spot in FIBA Asia. Unfortunately for the country, he is already planning to retire a year from now. This will definitely be a very big blow for the team and also for the country.

Image from Interaksyon

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Top Traditional and Modern Japanese Sports

Sports fans in Japan enjoy both traditional and modern Japanese sports. Traditional sports include sumo and martial arts, while modern sports include baseball and golf. To be able to learn more about Japanese and their love for sports, read this article further.

Traditional

Sumo

Sumo is the national sport of Japan. It is a Japanese wrestling style which was used in ancient times to entertain Shinto Gods. Nowadays, regular Japanese and even tourists take time to see or witness sumo live.

Unlike modern wrestling where an opponent can be beaten either by submission or count, the rules of sumo is much simpler. In Sumo, whoever leaves the ring first or touches the ground loses.

If you want to watch Sumo live, look for a dohyo near you. A dohyo is an elevated clay ring covered with sand.

Judo

Judo is literally translated as “the gentle way”. It was adapted by Japanese Jigoro Kano from the ancient martial art form jujitsu.

Unlike other martial arts, the main objective of judo is not only to win but also to train one’s body and soul. Furthermore, in Judo, technique is more valuable than stamina.

Kendo

Kendo is literally translated as the way of the sword. It is the Japanese equivalent of fencing. The Japanese warriors used swords as their primary weapon for centuries. Swords are symbolize the samurai. Modern kendo uses bamboo swords.

Just like in judo, training the mind in Kendo is crucial.

Modern

Traditional and Modern Japanese Sports

Traditional and Modern Japanese Sports

Baseball

Baseball is called Yakyu in Japanese. Currently, it is known by many as the most popular sport in Japan. As a matter of fact, there are two Japanese baseball leagues in the country- he Pacific League and the Central League. As in the U.S., games are usually broadcast live during baseball season. High school baseball tournaments are also broadcast nationwide.

Golf

Unknown to many, golf is also very popular in Japan. Although success of Japanese golf players are not that high, the hectares of lands used for golfing in Japan is obvious. As further, evidence of golf’s popularity in the country, there are actually some golf courses that are laid out on two or more floors.

Ryo Ishikawa

Image from Google

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New Sports Ministry for 2020 Olympic Games

Besides the most awaited hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Japan, particularly Tokyo is also expected to host the 2020 Paralympic Games. Because of this, the government intends to appoint a former athlete to head a sports related administration.

According to sources, the policy is aimed at implementing projects for the 2020 Games that are more in-line with the current actual situation in the sports world. The new sports administration will have a huge role, as it is assigned to control sports related government budgets. The agency will also be in charge of fostering top-level Japanese athletes, promoting sports in local communities and making international contributions in sports fields.

This month, the new agency will be convened, particularly on January 26. From this day onwards, a revision in the constitution will be processed by the diet so that the new ministry will be legally administered. According to sources, the government is planning to start the new agency with about 120 staff.

The most controversial part but with no doubt acceptable proposition is the selection of the first head of the new agency. The government will select candidates from among former athletes, such as Olympic medalists with substantial experience in international competitions, not politicians or senior officials of the education ministry. With the first hand experience, the soon to be appointed ministry head is expected to be able to understand more the situation of the present and incoming athletes.

Baseball is an Olympic Sport

Baseball is an Olympic Sport

The core of the new agency’s organizational structure will comprise officials from the education ministry’s Sports and Youth Bureau. The agency’s staff will also include members of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in charge of health promotion projects; the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in charge of construction and improvement of sports facilities; the Foreign Ministry in charge of international contribution projects in sports fields; and the private sector.

Expect the launching of the new agency to be held later this year, perhaps by August, four months after the initially proposed April launching.

Image from Wikipedia

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Inamoto Junichi

Inamoto Junichi is one of the most popular soccer players in the history of Japanese soccer. Born in 1979 from Kagoshima Prefecture, Inamoto Junichi made a name for himself through soccer.

In 2002, Japan qualified for the FIFA World Cup. Inamoto Junichi was one of the players in the team, perhaps the best player available there. “Ina” captured the hearts not just of his countrymen but the whole world with his peroxide hair, baby face, and constant hustle and physicality throughout the tournament.

Inamoto’s amazing contribution to Japan’s FIFA World Cup appearance was also evident on paper. He scored two separate goals, helping his country do better than many people had expected. As it turned out during the course of the tournament, “Ina” had good reason to put on an impressive performance as it was leaked to the media that his club future was in jeopardy.

 

Inamoto was able to first make his name famous when he played for Gamba Osaka, a J-league founding team. As early as six, Inamoto was already playing the game. However, he said that he did not go up the ranks immediately as he wanted to hone his game more.

At the age of 13, Inamoto Junichi felt that he was already noteworthy. He joined the Gamba Junior Youth team when he was 13, and was eventually qualified to join the Japanese under-16 national team two years later. With his success in the national games, he was immediately offered a contract to play in the J-league, the most prestigious Japanese football league. At the age of 17, he became the youngest J-League player and eventually the youngest one to score professionally in the country.

Inamoto

With his young age and very visible potential, Inamoto became the first Japanese player to transfer to the English Premier League in 2001 at the age of 21. However, Inamoto made no starts with Arsenal and was only able to play a total of five outings in the Champions League and the Worthington Cup.

After a forgettable but definitely profitable stay in Arsenal, he was picked up by another London Team, Fulham. Inamoto was able to play at Fulham regularly but still, he was not contented with the trust and playing time he got with the team. He became a journeyman in London and eventually went overseas to Turkey in 2006.

Baseball

Baseball

Image from Wikipedia

 

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Japanese Women’s National Volleyball Team

The Japanese are known for many sports, particularly those related to martial arts. They were able to popularize sumo wrestling, aikido, and the like. But actually, the Japanese are well-diversified and really talented. As a matter of fact, they are also into modern sports. An example of this is volleyball.

As a testament to the success of the Japanese in the sport of volleyball is the current ranking of Japan’s national volleyball team in the women’s division. Currently, they are ranked third by the FVB. This is not an easy feat to reach.

The sport of volleyball is not new to Japan. Actually, arguably the most memorable Japanese volleyball moment in history is when their national team won against the heavily favored Soviet Union in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. What made this win even sweeter is the fact that they won it in front of their countrymen.

In the most recent Summer Olympics, Japan was able to qualify being the best team in Asia. In the 2012 Olympics, Japan had been placed on Group A with Russian Republic, Italy, Dominican Republic, the host Great Britain and Algeria. Japan finished third in the Group. In the quarter-finals, Japan faced the old Asian rival China. Saori Kimura and Yukiko Ebata each scored 33 points in this thrilling game in which China were beaten by 3–2. It was their first win over China in 11 years as far as FIVB games are concerned. Unfortunately, they were eventually beaten by the defending champions Brazil in the semi-finals.

Fortunately, Japan still had the chance to get a podium finish. In the third place battle against Korea, they were able to grab the bronze medal, the first since 1984. It was definitely a big breakthrough for Japanese volleyball.

Like Baseball, volleyball is a modern Japanese sport

Like Baseball, volleyball is a modern Japanese sport

The current Women’s Japanese volleyball team is led by head coach Masayoshi Manabe. The youngest player in the roster is Haruka Miyashita, 5’10” in height, who is only 20 years old. Contrary, the oldest player is Japanese volleyball veterans Hitomi Nakamichi and Saori Kimura, who are 29 and 28 years old, respectively. The latter is the captain of the team.

Image from Zimbio

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Bo Taoshi

Japanese are known for their fondness with sports. They were able to popularize Sumo wrestling, taekwando, and other forms of martial arts. They were also able to make foreign sports such as football and baseball as their own, as the Japanese are definitely into them. But did you know that there is a sport that is relatively unknown to foreign men but is very popular in Japan?

I am referring to the sport called Bo Taoshi. The term Bo Taoshi in English is literally translated as “to bring down”. In layman’s sense, the sport is simply a capture the flag like game, but was modified in various ways.

Bo Taoshi is popular especially in Japanese high schools and junior high schools. It is often played during physical education classes and part of some school’s curriculum.

In YouTube, Bo Taoshi became a talk among many as a video posted there displayed cadets at the National Defense Academy of Japan playing the game. In the said video, there were almost two hundred men playing the game of Bo Taoshi.

Bo Taoshi is a modern Japanese sport

Bo Taoshi is a modern Japanese sport

Speaking of videos in YouTube, did you know that there is a video in the popular social networking site that reveals the existence of Kopinos? Kopinos are children with Korean fathers and Filipina mothers. This issue is very similar to that of Korean Comfort Women, which is coincidentally also a problem in Japan where Bo Taoshi started.

Going back to Bo Taoshi, traditionally, the National Defense Academy of Japan will include 150 players. The 150 players will be divided into two, with 75 attackers and 75 defenders. The defenders begin in a defensive orientation respective to their own pole. While the defenders are setting up their position, the attackers simultaneously assume position some measure away from the other team’s pole.

A team is victorious if it is able to lower the pole of the opposing team to about thirty degrees before their opponents reaches this goal. Previously, the angle was slightly lower but was changed in 1973. The previous angle was only 45 degrees.

Defense

Barrier – The Barrier is the largest part of the defense. The main goal is to protect the pole

Pole Support – the Pole Support has a vital role – to hold the pole in an upright position

Interference – those attacking the attackers in order to interrupt them in a harassing manner

Ninja – this is the single man at the top of the pole. This is one of the most important positions on defense.

Offense

Springboard/scrum – the scrum acts as stepping stones so their offensive teammates can jump over the barrier and have easy access to the pole.

Pole attackers – in charge of taking the ninja down and using their weight to bring the pole down.

Image from Japaoemfoco