Friday, June 25, 2010

They've Got Spirit

Sorry, no Tokyo Disney yet dad.

Anyways. I woke up this morning to huge headlines and full pages in the newspaper talking solely about Japan's victory against Denmark. Out of sixteen pages in the newspaper one was TV listings, two were the Nikkei stock index, two were ads, one was movie showtimes, and five were about the World Cup. Normally there are one or two pages with World Cup, depending on what the headline is for the day. Today's headline was 'Japan continues on to World Cup finals!' (but in Japanese), which is not uncommon, and underneath was a photo of the team celebrating on the field right after they won (and a very disappointed Dane).

After taking a bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, it took the Japanese team thirty years and a new national soccer league to qualify for the World Cup. When they finally qualified in 1998, they didn't make it past the first round. Then, in 2002, Japan and South Korea co-hosted the World Cup. Japan made it to the second round in the finals, only to be beaten by Turkey and shown up by their co-host when South Korea made it to the semi-finals. 2006 was the same as 1998. This is a country that is well know for brains, not brawn. What the Japanese lack in size and stature though, they make up for in spirit with gusto.

There is a designated World Cup page in the newspaper where there is a chart with rankings, the results of the latest match, when the next matches are going to be played and where, etc,. But even that usually only takes up one page. Today, it was this: These pictures are of the three Japanese goals against Denmark, in order; Honda at 17 minutes (FK); Endo at 30 minutes (FK): Okazaki at 87 minutes. The blue characters on the right say something along the terms of 'a free kick by the miraculous samurai' or 'a miraculous free kick by the samurai.' Something that contains miraculous, free kick, and Samurai. Suffice to say that the Japanese really love their Keisuke Honda. In fact, they had a diagram of his free kick for those of us who missed it live. Unlike my host sisters, I didn't wake up at 3:30 to watch the match... I didn't even know it was on. That's what Disney will do to you. Even though I missed it, I can see that with his left foot Samurai Honda kicked the ball decisively and directly into the goal. The goal keeper leaped valiantly, but to no avail. Meanwhile, on the right side a Japanese player and a Danish player raced to reach the ball first if Honda's kick didn't go in the goal.

There was also a summary of the game and a diagram of the starting players for both sides.
Note: it says 42 minutes because the goal was scored 42 minutes into the second half, which is the same as 87 minutes. I'm still correct. As always.

And here we have fans

And here, more about the Japanese soccer team at the World Cup

If the Japanese win against Paraguay on Tuesday, I don't think there will be enough ink to print all of the diagrams with.


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