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Traditional Japanese Sports

There are various traditional Japanese sports. Although modern sports have emerged recently, these traditional sports are still widely accepted in the country.

Sumo

In Sumo, two wrestlers go up against each other in a ring. The rule of sumo is very simple- the wrestler who brings his opponent down to the ground or pushes him outside the ring is declared the winner. Although the rules are very easy to understand, the training of a sumo wrestler is not.

Kendo

Kendo is another traditional Japanese sport. In Kendo, two fencers hold a long bamboo and strike the opponent. The players wear protectors such as masks, and chest guards.

Aikido

Aikido is another traditional Japanese sport. Aikido is a martial art in which an attack with bare hands or with a weapon, such as a sword or spear, is repulsed by utilizing the strength of the attacker against him or her.

 

Aikido

Aikido

Judo

Judo is also a traditional Japanese sport. Unlike the aforementioned, Judo is an Olympic sport program that is played at the Olympic games. In judo, two wrestlers compete with various throwing and grappling techniques. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke. A judo practitioner is called a judoka.

Karate

Karate did not originate in Japan. Actually, it originated in China but became very popular in the country during the colonization era. Karate is a martial art developed on the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It developed from the indigenous martial arts of Ryukyu Islands under the influence of Chinese martial arts, particularly Fujian White Crane.

Kyudo

Japanese archery or Kyudo is another traditional Japanese sport. In Kyudo, standing archers shoot arrows at a target with a long Japanese-style bow; and mounted archery, in which archers shoot at stationary targets from atop galloping horses.

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Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki is a Japanese baseball legend who has been playing in the Major League Baseball for a long time. Born in 1973, he was able to play in the American league at the age of 38. The teams he played for include the Seattle Mariners, and the New York Yankees. Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including MLB’s single-season record for hits with 262. He had 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player in history.

Ichiro’s talent was discovered when he played in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave of Japan’s Pacific league. In the said league, he played nine years achieving records and various awards.

Ichiro is the first MLB player to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame (The Golden Players Club). He is a ten-time All-Star and won the 2007 All-Star Game MVP Award for a three-hit performance that included the event’s first-ever inside-the-park home run. Ichiro won a Gold Glove Award in each of his first ten years in the major leagues, and has had seven hitting streaks of 20 or more games, with a high of 27. Ichiro also leads all active players in stolen bases, with 487.

Suzuki with the Yankees

Suzuki with the Yankees

Ichiro was born in the town of Toyoyama. In the same town is where he grew up and developed a love for basketball. At the age of seven, Ichiro joined his first baseball team and asked his father, Nobuyuki Suzuki to teach him to be a better player. The two began a daily routine which included throwing 50 pitches, fielding 50 infield balls and 50 outfield balls, and hitting 500 pitches, 250 from a pitching machine and 250 from his father.

On August 9, 2014, Ichiro hit a single in a game, again against the Indians, to pass George Sisler on the all-time hit list with his 2,811th hit. Ichiro had previously broken Sisler’s single season hit record in 2004.

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Norichika Aoki

Baseball is the number one modern sport in Japan. It is not surprising then that many Japanese players are well-developed in baseball to the point that they are capable of playing internationally in the pros.  Nori Aoki is an example.

Norichika Aoki is a Japanese professional baseball player who is currently playing for the San Francisco Giants of the Major League Baseball. In the past, he has played for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Kansas City Royals. In the local league in his mother country, he has played for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

In the 2011-2012 season, the Swallows posted Aoki to the Major League Baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers won the posting and immediately signed Aoki to a two-year deal. He became the team’s first Japanese player to be acquired through this process. Kosuke Inaji served as Aoki’s interpreter throughout the season.

 

Due to his fine play, as well as unfortunate injuries to his team’s regular players, Aoki found himself with an increased role year after year. In his first full season with Milwaukee, Aoki hit .288/.355/.433 with 10 home runs (one inside the park), 50 RBIs, and 81 runs scored in 520 at-bats, plus 30 stolen bases. By the latter half of the season he was batting primarily in the leadoff position for the Brewers. Aoki also set the record for doubles in a single season (37) by a Brewers rookie.

In 2013, after a successful run with the team, the Brewers decided to let Aoki go, sending him to the Kansas City Royals via trade. Aoki has batted leadoff for the Royals for much of the 2014 Kansas City Royals season. On August 6, in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Aoki hit a grand slam in the fifth inning off of relief pitcher Bo Schultz. This was his first career grand slam, as well as his first (and only) homer with the Royals.

As his contract is set to terminate, the San Francisco Giants decided to pick up Aoki’s contract. In January 29 of this year, Aoki was able to finalize the deal with the giants.

Nori

Nori

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Yuki Togashi

Who said the NBA is not for Asian players? Who also said that the NBA is only for those who are six foot and above in height? Yuki Togashi, a Japanese basketball player almost proved these statements to be false.

Earl Boykins, Mugsy Bogues, and Nate Robinson, these are the players who like Togashi are also regarded as the smallest nba players. However, what makes Togashi different from the aforementioned is the fact that these guys are strong and athletic, letting them endure the physicality of the NBA. But Togashi makes up for it with two things- speed and heart.

In the 2014 off season, Yuki Togashi was invited by the Dallas Mavericks to play in their NBA Summer Camp. It can be remembered that the Dallas Mavericks was also the team that drafted another Japanese player in Yuta Tabuse.

In his Summer League debut, Togashi quickly became a fan favorite. His daredevil drives and uncanny floaters got him the respect of the viewers despite his size. Back home, he was averaging 15.3 points and 7.6 assists per game. However, in his Summer League play, he failed to finish in double digit average.

Of all the places for Yuki Togashi’s basketball story to start, it’s at Kevin Durant’s high school alma mater, Montrose Christian. He played for their varsity basketball team and graduated in three years, but returned to Japan after failing to receive any Division I scholarship offers.

Mavericks scout Luca Desta originally thought it was a joke when a mutual friend told him he should look at Yuki, but his opinion changed after watching film.

Unable to land a team this season, expect Togashi to try it out once again next year. After all, it is not only his game that could improve any NBA club, but also the global popularity he can give.

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The Rules of Sumo Wrestling

The sport of sumo has very few rules, which can result in some exciting bouts. Sumo takes place in a ring approximately 15 feet in diameter that is raised about 2 1/2 feet off the ground on a huge block of clay called a dohyo. A light sprinkling of sand is applied inside of the ring. The edge of the ring is made of tightly wound straw bands called tawara and rises up about 3 inches out of the dohyo. A new dohyo is created for each tournament. Five judges, or shinpan dressed in black kimono, sit below the dohyo and around the ring. These judges are former rikishi themselves. A referee, or gyoji, dressed in an elaborate kimono stands at the edge of the ring and officiates the bout.

A Sumo Match

A Sumo Match

At the end of the bout, the gyoji points to the winner. In a particularly close bout, any of the five judges can dispute the call made by the referee. In this case, a conference, called a mono-ii, is held inside the ring with the gyoji and five shinpan to discuss the match. In modern times, television instant replay is used to determine the actual outcome of a match when in dispute. A rikishi loses a match when any part of his body other than the bottoms of his feet touches the dohyo or when he is pushed or thrown outside of the ring. In the middle of the ring are two white lines called shikirisen. These lines are the starting points of each rikishi for each bout. When a judge gives the signal for the rikishi to fight, both rikishi crouch behind their respective shikirisen and face each other. When both rikishi place both hands clenched in fists on or behind the shikirisen, the bout begins. The tachi-ai, or initial charge, is extremely important in gaining the advantage and momentum over your opponent. On the side note, Sumo Wrestling was not that popular as form of entertainment during the World War due to the fact that the world is underneath the wings of chaos and destruction. Most people, especially soldiers, gets sex slaves as their primary source of enjoyment. The US Comfort Women are some of the slaves used by soldiers for entertaining themselves through sexual pleasures.

Sumo Wrestler before a match

Sumo Wrestler before a match

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Yuta Tabuse

The National Basketball Association is a league that consists of people all over the world. Be it Americans, Canadians, or even Asians, you’ll surely find one there. However, there is only one Japanese basketball player in modern times who was able to set foot on an NBA court. His name is Yuta Tabuse.

Yuta Tabuse is a 5 foot 9 inches point guard, who once played for the Phoenix Suns in the 2004-2005 season. Historically speaking, he is the first Japanese born player in the NBA.

At an early age particularly in high school, Tabuse was already exposed to fame. When he led his school to three straight national championships, some started to refer to him as the “Michael Jordan of Japan”.

Michael Cooper, former NBA player and Tabuse’s coach with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, said of him, “He automatically changes the game because of his quickness and distributing the ball. He’s the best fundamental player I’ve been around in a long time,” and Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni said, “I liked his energy, I liked his courage.”

Tabuse

Tabuse

Tabuse played basketball at an early age of nine. According to him, it was not hard for him to fall in love with the game, especially since he was not good in baseball and soccer. He attended Noshiro Technical High in Akita Prefecture, where he led his team to national championships all three years he was there and did not lose a single game.

In 2004, Tabuse joined the Phoenix Suns’ training camp and made the opening night roster. He scored seven points in his first NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks on November 3, 2004. However, he was waived by the Suns on December 16, 2004 and rejoined the Jam for the remainder of the season.

Currently, Tabuse plays for the Link Tochigi Brex in the Japanese Basketball League.

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A Sumo Wrestler

Sumo is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport where a wrestler or a rikishi attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. Sumo originated in Japan and even up until now is a popular sport in the country.

We may enjoy watching sumo wrestlers wrestle, but did we even care to think about the lives of the sumo wrestlers? In this article, a glimpse on the life of rikishis will be presented.

Sumo Wrestler

Sumo Wrestler

Sumo wrestlers belong to a stable. In a stable, the wrestlers are trai ned, nourished, and developed to become good wrestlers someday. Stables are managed by at least one stable master, who is usually a retired wrestler who was good at his prime.

In Japan, there are currently 54 stables. Referees, ushers, and hairdressers also live in the stables. The stable master is referred to as oyakata (boss), and his wife, who is called okamisan, plays an important supporting role behind the scenes.

There are a number of different divisions for the wrestlers, ranging from the makuuchi and juryo divisions at the top (sekitori), to makushita, sandanme, jonidan, and jonokuchi below them. Wrestlers begin receiving a salary when they become a sekitori at the rank of juryo or higher, and they also get to wear a keshomawashi, a lavishly embroidered apron-like cloth that comes down to their ankles, when they are introduced before the beginning of a tournament. More than anything, though, they get to have people around them take care of their everyday needs.

Sekitori also wear their topknot in the shape of the leaf of a ginkgo tree. And the mawashi that a sekitori wears in the tournaments is made of silk and can be one of several colors, while wrestlers in the makushita division or lower can wear only a black cotton mawashi.

Sumo is a world in which results are everything, and there is a great difference between how wrestlers of different ranks are treated and how much money they receive.

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So Taguchi

So Taguchi is a legendary Japanese baseball player. Taguchi played ten seasons in the Japanese Baseball League, and then had the privilege to play in the Major League Baseball. In MLB, he was able to play for teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Chicago Cubs.

So Taguchi can be remembered as the first Japanese National League player to win a world series. He was able to do this with two different teams, with the Cardinals and the Phillies in 2006 and 2008, respectively.

Taguchi

Taguchi

Taguchi was born and raised in Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan. With a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, he was able to graduate in the Kwansei Gakuin University.

In 2002, Taguchi received one of the biggest news of his life. He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent in 2002 at the age of 33, a year in which he rose through the minor league system, playing for the New Haven Ravens and the Memphis Redbirds, compiling a .262 batting average, with 6 home runs and 51 RBI. He eventually earned a call-up on September 7, and recorded the first hit of his major league career in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs.

Taguchi got another brief call-up in 2003, then got more playing time with the Cardinals in 2004, appearing in 109 games. He was included on the ’04 Cardinals postseason roster, and appeared in two games of the 2004 World Series, which the Cardinals lost to the Boston Red Sox in a four-game sweep. In 2005, injuries to outfielders Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders opened up manager Tony LaRussa’s lineup card, and Taguchi became an everyday player. He responded with his best season, batting .288 in 396 at-bats with eight home runs and fifty-three RBI, and contributing with his stellar defense at all three outfield positions as the Cardinals won 100 games and had the best record in the National League.

In 2007, the Cardinals decided not to resign Taguchi. After a year, the Philadelphia Phillies signed him into a one year deal. Taguchi’s numbers fell off sharply, his batting average dropping from .290 in 2007 to .220 in 2008, and he got only 91 at-bats for the whole season. However, he was included on Philadelphia’s postseason roster and won his second championship ring when the Phillies won the 2008 World Series.

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