Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weekly Roundup of Cool Japanese Stories

Umm, okay, I'm a little late on this week's – I meant, last week's – roundup. I know you've been waiting with bated breath for what I think was cool in Japanese culture, so I'll get right down to it. Females seem to figure prominently.

Discovering Japanese Astronauts
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi had been living and working on the International Space Station (ISS) for three months when he was joined by fellow astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, who was on the space shuttle Discovery when it docked with the ISS. It marked the first time two Japanese astronauts and four female astronauts were in space at the same time (Yamazaki was accompanied on Discovery by Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson; Tracy Dyson was aboard the ISS.). Yamazaki is Japan's second female astronaut, after Chiaki Mukai.

At Yamazaki's request, Japanese designer Tae Ashida created a custom outfit for the historic occasion: A light-blue knit cardigan and navy-blue shorts. I'm assuming she donned the wardrobe under her spacesuit.

AP Photo/John Raoux

The Knuckleballer Becomes an Outlaw
Eri Yoshida is making her dream of becoming a professional baseball player come true. The 18-year-old knuckleballer from Kawasaki, signed with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League and is expected to join the team next month. During spring training Yoshida met Tim Wakefield, the veteran knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Yoshida credits her ability to throw the quirky pitch to watching video of Wakefield pitching.

Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox meets Eri Yoshida during spring training.
Photo from The Joy of Sox blog.

The Golden Baseball League is an independent minor league that has ten teams in California, Arizona, and parts of western Canada. The Outlaws are said to be making arrangements to accommodate Yoshida, the only female on the team.

Meanwhile, Back in Japan . . .
Not to be outdone by young Eri Yoshida, ladies in Japan have their own professional league. JapanBall fan Daisuke posted this link on JapanBall's Facebook fan page. I can barely read the website – I know, I need to study harder – but it looks as if there are two teams: The Kyoto AstoDreams and the Swing Smileys of Hyogo. Maybe their first game is April 23? From what I can tell, this is a legitimate, working league with players and schedules and websites. We're talking baseball here, not softball. And I think that's pretty cool.

The Girls Professional Baseball League
Photo from the website

The photo on the Girls Professional Baseball League's website of a glass slipper on the mound is a nice touch, too.

The Guinness Book of World Records Must Be Huge by Now
Olympic silver medalist and recently crowned World Champion Mao Asada received official commendation from the Guinness Book of World Records during a Stars on Ice event in Tokyo on Sunday. Asada is the holder of the world record for most triple axels performed by a woman in one competition. It's important to note that Asada landed the triple axels during the entire competition, not during one program. She stuck one in her short program and followed that up with two in her free skate.

Mao Asada receives a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records
AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama

Asada is the third Japanese figure skater to be honored in the Guinness Book. Midori Ito is on record as who won the silver medal behind Japanese-American Kristi Yamaguchi at the Albertville Olympics in 1992. The other Japanese figure skater in the Guinness Book is Miki Ando, who in 2002 became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in competition.

Is there a record for most blog posts and articles about Japanese stuff? If there is, I'm sure I'm far behind, so I'll keep working on it. I'll be back at the end of this week with more cool stories.


cool fun games said...

Cool, tho Mao Asada seems to finish up second most of the times but its still fun to watch, i mean she falls back on Kim Yu Na mostly :)

shrinecastle said...

They are both exciting to watch. I find it odd that there's a Guinness record for triple axels.