The Rise of the Asian Male Figure Skater

Story by Olivia Ouyang.

On a night when mistakes abounded, history was made. The men’s free skate competition was far from memorable, with falls occurring left and right. However, it was an evening for the books. For the first time in the history of Olympic figure skating, an Asian male won the event. Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu skated far below his abilities, falling twice during his program. However, he was able to edge out the competition and solidify the rise of the Asian male skater.

The Japan Figure Skating Championships is considered one of the hardest competitions simply because of the depth of the country’s field. Its two other representatives, Tatsuki Machida and Daisuke Takahashi, finished fifth and sixth respectively. Takahashi, who made history in 2010 by becoming the first Asian man to win the World Championships, did not even make the podium at Japanese nationals. However, given his experience, which includes a bronze medal at the prior Olympics, Takahashi was given a spot on the team.

It is worth noting that all three medalists are of Asian descent. Silver medalist Patrick Chan is of Chinese descent; both his parents immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in the early part of their lives. Chan created a stir a few years ago when he told Reuters that he wished he could skate for China because the country appreciates their figure skaters whereas Canadians only value hockey. The statement was later retracted. The three-time World Champion was a contender for the gold medal, trailing Hanyu by less than four points. After Hanyu’s errors, the door was open for Chan to step in and clench the gold. However, the veteran skater made numerous errors and was unable to close the gap.

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After the short program, only 3.5 points separated third and eleventh place, leaving the bronze medal was up for grabs. It was Denis Ten, the 2013 World silver medalist, who rose to the occasion. Representing Kazakhstan, Ten is of Korean descent. His great-great-grandfather was Min Keung Ho, a Korean general in the war against Japan for independence in the early 20th century. Ten rose from ninth the third place with one of the best programs of the night.

Michael Christian Martinez, the first figure skater and only athlete from the Philippines at these Games placed a respectable nineteenth place. Read more on his story here.

The ladies’ competition gets underway today. Unlike the men, Asian women have dominated the past two Olympics, beginning with Shizuka Arakawa’s victory at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of Korea is competing here in Sochi to defend her title. Also in the mix is Mao Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist who is looking to improve on her prior finish and get gold.

This Adorable Video Will Make You Want to Visit Rabbit Island

In Japan, the island of Ōkunoshima has become a well-known tourist attraction. However, the popularity of this island may not be for reasons that you would typically expect from a tourist spot. The main attraction of Ōkunoshima island are the adorably, fluffy rabbits which scamper all about the area.

The island served as a secret military installation in World War II. The Japanese used the island to produce poisonous gas. Because the island was far enough from the major cities, the army believed it would be the perfect location to experiment with dangerous mustard gas.

Unfortunately, the story gets rather sad here. Rabbits were brought onto the island as test subjects for the poison. At the end of WWII, the facility was shut down and the rabbits were released into the wild.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, it is said that only eight rabbits were released into the wild by school children, but with the predator-free environment, the bunnies multiplied and became a group of over 300.

The rabbits, who have become so accustomed to humans that they have no problem hopping into human arms, gave the island its popular nickname.

In the following video, a young girl is seen attracting a swarm of bunnies. Needless to say, it’s too cute not to watch.

 

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Fall In Love With Japan’s Women’s Hockey Team

Any fan of Japan’s women’s hockey team will admit that they don’t exactly expect the girls to take Olympic gold anytime soon– but the team is loved anyway.

Although the team places second in every Asian Winter Games since 1996, they are ranked 10th in the world and generally struggle with international competition. In fact, Japan’s spot at the Sochi Games is the first time in the country’s history that it qualified into the Olympics in women’s hockey.

Despite this, Japan’s women’s hockey team is consistently a fan favorite. They’ve been described as “the smiley-est group ever known.” This is perfect seeing as the team’s nickname is “Smile Japan.”

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The girls are known for their positive energy and love of celebration. Because of this, they have gained a handful of fans despite their scores at Sochi.

“We hoped to get a better result, but we are still positive,” one of the players said when Japan lost 4-0 to Germany. “We wanted to make our fans smile for us. Despite this, we hope we can still make them smile.”

This doesn’t seem like a very difficult task for the girls at all. Upon arriving at Sochi, the team was given some practice time. How did they utilize it? Certainly not by running drills or practicing every second they were given. Instead, they took pictures, played around in the ice and relished every moment of being on Olympic ice.

Check out the super cute pictures below.

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Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Women Yoko Kondo, Aina Takeuchi

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Korean Magazine Headline Angers Japanese

Story by James S. Kim. 

Popular men’s magazine Maxim Korea is accustomed to racy, eye-catching covers, but that’s usually due to the scantily-clad women. In this case, however, the editor-in-chief of the South Korean publication is under fire from netizens for a front page headline in the February issue that reads, “How to date Japanese women who haven’t been exposed to radiation,” as well as for his faux apology that blames the Japanese for the mistake.

The controversy began when readers in South Korea initially pointed out the inappropriate nature of the headline. Once the Japanese media picked up the topic, the issue blew up even further, prompting a public apology from the editor on Feb. 5, but his statement only added fuel to the flames.

He began appropriately enough, apologizing for “causing discomfort and inflicting harm” to any Japanese. He explained the article was a guide about how to get a Japanese girlfriend, and the headline on the front page was meant to be eye-catching and not intended to be offensive in any way.

It goes all downhill from there, as the editor subsequently shifts the blame to Japan: “The recent brash remarks coming from Japan concerning Dokdo and the island dispute, Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and the issue of comfort women, have unintentionally caused us to make a mistake,” he said.

“I will apologize for a second time to the many Japanese who harbor amicable feelings towards South Korea and continue to wait for the correct resolution to Dokdo and other historical problems,” he continued. “I wish to thank the readers who reprimanded us out of love.”

Japanese readers were understandably angered, with many calling the statement a provocation rather than an apology. There is no word on whether Maxim will issue (another) apology.

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This story was originally published in iamkoream.com 

Video of The Week: The Fastest (And Cutest) Baby Penguin is in Love

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air. That certainly appears to be the case for this female cape penguin who lives at Matsue Vogel Park in Japan.

Matsue Vogel Park is one of the Largest indoor garden in the world and is situated in Matsue-shi, Shimane prefecture. It is an aviary park which houses a number of tropical birds such as toucans, turacos, hornbills and ibises. There are also a number of aquatic birds such as emus and, you guessed it, penguins.

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This particular penguin is named Sakura-Chan and from the looks of it, she seems absolutely smitten by the human caretaker. At least it seems that way since she won’t allow any distance between the two.

No matter how fast the caretaker runs, Sakura-Chan is right on his heels. Forget having a human Valentine this year. This quick and adorable penguin is sure to warm your heart.

Watch the video below.

 

Yet Another Japanese Weight Loss App: Get Slim & Your Virtual Girlfriend Will Too

In Japan, the pressure to be slim continues to grow. In fact, a body figure which is considered average in America may be considered chubby in Japan. For instance, a new idol group was introduced in Japan called Chubbiness. As you may have guessed from their name, their angle is their “chubby figures.” The thought of an idol group who embraces their heavy figure sounds nice, but many people are bothered by the fact that the women in Chubbiness are hardly considered overweight at all.

Unfortunately, it seems as if many of Japan’s efforts to be accepting of heaviness have backfired. They have tried to introduce the term “marshmallow girls” to describe chubby women in hopes of associating chubbiness with cuteness. Instead, many have found the term insulting. Even worse, one television show said it was alright to be fat, but there are “right and wrong ways to be a fat woman.

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As expected, these efforts to be accepting of larger body figures cannot compare to the overwhelming pressure to be thin. Japan has just about everyone and everything encouraging weight loss. One B&B has rent price dependent on how much weight the tenant loses or gains. Then there’s a weight-loss app which has virtual men insult you until you lose weight.

But now a new app has decided to take this concept one step further.

The “Diet with Your Girlfriend” app is just what it sounds like. You are given a virtual girlfriend (which has gotten quite popular in Japan these days) and the more you diet, the more she does. The virtual girlfriend gets noticeably more attractive as she loses weight.

The problems with this sort of weight-loss app seems endless. Is this app suggesting that only slim women are attractive? What if a man prefers heavier women?

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Russia Wins The First Team Figure Skating Gold Medal, U.S. In Third

Story by Olivia Ouyang.

The first ever team figure skating event concluded yesterday with the men’s and ladies’ long program and free dance. Veteran Yevgeny Plushenko sealed Russia’s fate as the gold medalist after winning the men’s free skate. However, there were plenty of other highlights over the course of the three-day event that began on Thursday, the day before the opening ceremonies.

Unique to this competition is that skaters who would not normally be in the spotlight are able to compete alongside the world’s best. For example, Japan has some of the strongest singles skaters in the world. However, they have much weaker pairs and ice dancing teams. Because of the team structure of this competition, these Japanese skaters shared the ice with the best in the field. In addition, the five countries that qualified for the finals were allowed up to two substitutions for the long programs and free dance. Most countries took advantage of this rule and let some less experienced skaters compete.

While this was a nice way to kick off the Olympics, the real action starts on Tuesday when the individual events get underway.  However, the team event gave audiences a nice preview of who to watch.

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Men’s: Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) won the men’s short program, edging out Plushenko by a little over six points. Patrick Chan of Canada also proved he is a medal contender by placing third in the short. Although Plushenko won the long program, Kevin Reynolds of Canada and Tatsuki Machida were right on his heels.

Ladies’: Yulia Lipnitskaya, the 15-year-old from Russia, proved that she is the girl to beat, dominating both the short and long programs. Veteran Carolina Kostner pulled together one of her best programs ever and placed second in the short. If she skates like that in the individual competition, she is definitely a medal contender. Mao Asada, one of the few women with a triple axel, fell on the element in the short program but still managed to cling to third. Ashley Wagner partially redeemed herself after a devastating performance at U.S. Nationals that sparked quite the controversy when she was selected for the Olympic team over bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu (for more on this story, click here). Lastly but certainly not least, Gracie Gold, the current U.S. National champion, came the closest to challenging Lipnitskaya, placing second in the free skate.

Pairs: As it has been for the past decade, the top three pair teams in the world are still the Russians, Canadians, and Chinese. All three countries have such a deep team that it will be interesting to see who ends up on top.

Ice Dancing: Meryl Davis and Charlie White demonstrated why they are the favorites to win the Olympics, scoring a season’s best during the free dance and winning both portions of the competition. Their closest rivals (both literally and figuratively) are Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who represent Canada but happen to be their training mates. Marina Zoueva coaches both teams.

 

Japan Introduces New “Chubby Girl” Idol Group

It’s no secret that Japanese women face quite a bit of pressure when it comes to weight. There are B&Bs where the cost of rent is dependent on the tenant’s weight and apps which verbally abuse women until they lose a few pounds.

Even when Japan tries to be more accepting of heavier women with terms like “marshmallow girls,” many of these actions cause unintended harm. For instance, a morning television show claimed it was perfectly acceptable for women to be heavy, but there are “right and wrong ways to be a fat girl.”

So when the Japanese entertainment company, AVEX, revealed that they were joining forces with fashion magazine CanCam to create J-Pop’s first official “fat” idol group, we were all taken aback with the news.

As RocketNews24 points out, “In Japan, being an idol is serious business. Getting caught in anything that has the potential of crushing a fan’s dreams could easily result in the idol getting fired. Simple things that common people partake in without as much as a blink of an eye, such as dating, smoking, or even putting on weight, are huge taboos for many members of Japanese idol groups.”

Clearly, Japan is trying to break away from their conventional image of a J-Pop idol. Asian Junkie believes that with the recent fad of “marshmallow girls,” it was only a matter of time that the pop industry would get in on the trend.

Auditions began August of last year. Out of  3,500 applicants, ten girls have finally been chosen to be part of the new J-Pop idol group, Chubbiness.

Rather than focus on being slim, the girls are encouraged to maintain their figure. To emphasize that they are proud of their weight, each member has revealed their favorite part of their body.

The big question is whether or not these girls are actually chubby. To many of us, most of the members of Chubbiness aren’t actually very round at all. In fact, many fall under the average weight category, but apparently these girls are no where near the thin figures of typical Japanese idols.

Check out their official website here.

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ADORABLE ASIAN FOOD: Radish Art Edition

If there’s one thing Audrey readers seem to be a fan of, that would be all things cute. This can be cute babies, cute cosplayers and above all, cute food.

Coffee art has gained quite some popularity over the years, but theres another edible art that’s threatening to take the spotlight: radish art.

Instead of using foam sitting on coffee, people have recently began shaping the grated radish that sits on top of Japanese hot pots and stews. These dishes, also known as nabe, are generally served during the cold weather and are often topped with grated daikon radish.

A typical nabe dish will have the daikon radish grated on to the bowl and simply mixed in with the other ingredients to add a fresh flavor. Talented folk have decided to use the grated radish as a medium to create delightful characters, animals and shapes.

Now, people are taking the time to squeeze the radish until the excess water spills onto the bowl. When the radish becomes just the right texture, it can be molded into all the adorable radish sculptures you see below.

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A Bra That Will Only Come Undone For Your “True Love”

We want to begin by saying we’re just as confused as you are.

But to the Japanese lingerie company Ravijour, a “True Love Tester Bra” makes perfect sense. Makers are claiming that the bra is able to analyze how a woman truly feels and will only pop open when the user finds her true love.

The lingerie company is marketing the bra as a safety device. Apparently, the bra will ward off unwanted sexual advances and will make sure that all people, except your true love, will not have access to your breasts.

How does this peculiar, high-tech undergarment work? According to the video promo seen below, the bra contains a sensor which syncs with an app on the user’s phone. The sensor will monitor and track the user’s heartbeat and once the heart rate reaches a specific point (the heart rate of true love, of course) the bra will come undone on its own.

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Of course, we’ve come across a number of problems with this device:

1. So what if you don’t find your true love? Do you have to keep the bra on forever? We’re certain that there are other ways to make the bra pop open on its own, but the video promo seems to constantly emphasize that the bra will only come undone in the presence of true love.

2. How accurate can that heart rate chart really be? What if I’m going out for a light run? Should I expect my bra to pop open because my heart rate has picked up? A person’s heart rate can rise and fall for a number of reasons. We highly doubt that this device is so intelligent that it can pinpoint the exact moment a woman finds her true love.

3. No, this is not an anti-rape product. As Huffington Post points out, “This high-tech bra will never “save” a woman from sexual harassment. Just because one’s brassiere isn’t being ripped off by an aggressive gentleman, doesn’t mean that the wearer isn’t experiencing a barrage of other forms of unwanted sexual attention before an evening gets to that point.” And getting into technicalities, what if one’s heart rate increases out of fear?

4. We’re pretty sure this thing can’t “know” how women feel. The creators (two men) can’t actually believe that true love can be measured based on a “one-size-fits-all” heart rate chart, right? I’d like to believe we’re much more complicated beings than that.

5. What if a girl just wants to have sex? In this day and age, there are plenty of women who are sexual beings. Believe it or not, women can actually want to have sex even if their partner isn’t their one true love. Shocking!

A woman should have the freedom to make these decisions for herself.