Saturday, February 25, 2006

Olympics

So I'm not a huge Winter Olympics fan. I never grew up with snow, and even though I've had plenty of opportunities to go skiing in my life, I've always passed. Just doesn't appeal to me. So most of the winter sports are way out of my realm of relatibility, with the possible exception of ice skating. There was an ice rink in the big mall in Dallas near where I grew up, and I went skating there for birthday parties and with my friends - so I can appreciate how hard it is for Olympic Skaters to do what they do. Maybe that's why I got up early Japan time on Friday morning to watch the finals of the Womens' free skate.

I'm glad I did, because Japan's Arakawa Shizuka was flawless - so graceful and beautiful - she really deserves the Gold Medal that now adorns her neck.

Being the only medal winner of any type so far in this games for Japan, she instantly became a national hero Friday morning, and I'm sure she'll be all over the chat shows and advertisements within moments of getting back into Japan from Turin.
She is also the first woman from an Asian country to win a gold medal in skating and the 9th gold medal winner in Japanese history in the winter Olympics and only the 2nd female gold medal winner. Quite an accomplishment.

One funny thing - I was reading some of the news coverage of the event on MSN later that day and they decribed Arakawa as emotionless, but she came alive after being declared the winner and even flashed the "V" for Victory sign at the camera. Hahaha - I had to laugh. Anyone that's spent ANY time in Japan or even clicked on my photos on this site knows that when the Japanese hold up two fingers in a V shape they are simply "posing" for a photo - they do it in EVERY photo - and if you asked them they'd say it was the "peace" sign. Heck, most couldn't tell you what letter the word "Victory" started with if their life depended on it and even then they couldn't pronounce it - most Japanese people pronounce V sounding like B. Just another example of a Western journalist interpreting events based on a cultural standard that has no relation to Japan.

Anyway - omedetou gozaimasu to Ms. Arakawa! Her gold medal has given the truly downtrodden and depressed and winless Japanese something to smile and cheer about.

-JCH

1 comment:

Phil Knall said...

Sorry for the late comment, I hope you don't mind... Finally found my way over from the oni board.

Funny you should mention the V sign thing... A friend of mine just wrote her graduation paper (at Konan Daigaku) about that very topic. I'm considering borrowing some of her sources for my seminar on nonverbal communication in Japanese culture, too.
I too saw the figure skating final, and was so relieved Japan wasn't completely losing out in the olympics... Though I've got to admit Austria's ridiculously good performance did make me a tiny bit patriotic for a change ;)