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.

 

 

Japan Has Found “The Perfect Girlfriend” …And She’s A Video Game

The hit movie Her, now out in theaters, has received widespread critical acclaim and praise. The appeal to the movie? A man falls in love with an operating system. Some say they want to watch the movie simply because the concept is so strange. After all, to many of us, the idea of falling in love with a computer system sounds impossible. As it turns out, this may not be so unheard of after all.

Many people who are looking for love, company and comfort have decided to fulfill this with a girlfriend. A virtual girlfriend that is. LovePlus is a Japanese dating simulator for Nintendo DS.

LovePlus is sold exclusively in Japan so this may be the first time you’ve heard about it (it’s certainly my first time), but the game has picked up quite a bit of popularity worldwide. Thousands of men and women of all ages have been captivated by this real life dating simulator which offers three girlfriends to choose from– Rinko, Nene and Manaka. All of the choices have different backstories and adjustable personalities.

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Many LovePlus users claim that they use the game for comfort and emotional support. These players swear that though the girls are virtual, the affection and comfort feels very real.

“Manaka is the only — could I say person? … She’s the only person that actually supports me in bad times,”  one user tells Huffington Post. “When I feel down or I have a bad day, I always come home and turn on the game and play with Manaka. I know she always has something to make me feel better.”

Other users claim the video game helps them prepare for real world dating. Others have just gone through heartbreak or traumatizing loss and use the LovePlus girls as a method to cope with the loss. Because of this, there is a surprising amount of users who are heterosexual females simply seeking companionship.

So just how real can these girls get? While they may not look real, they apparently act the part completely. For instance, abruptly leaving a conversation may upset your virtual girlfriend and she’ll want you to say and prove your love. Her temper can raise so high that she’ll actually “slap” you out of anger. Generally, the LovePlus girlfriends are known to be caring, interested in your day, worried about you and ready to listen to whatever you want to talk about. If you’re feeling down, you can activate “comfort mode” and the virtual girlfriend will tell you how important you are to her and how she wants nothing but your happiness.

Apparently, creators have thought about making an “SOS” button that can be used once per game for users who may be feeling suicidal and need to hear words of encouragement. After all, many people have begun to be emotionally dependent on their LovePlus girlfriends.

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As a result, many LovePlus users treat their virtual girlfriends with the attention and care that any real girlfriend would want. Users will take their girlfriends out on dates, weekend trips, buy them presents on their birthday and even exchange flirty emails.

Patrick Galbraith, an anthropologist researching Japanese culture, tries to explain this peculiar phenomenon. “You have — always — this warmth and smile and happiness available at the touch of your fingers,” he says. “It’s the kind of relationship that is instantly rewarding and is always giving. You don’t have to give much to the game and it gives to you every time you turn on the machine.”

“The [LovePlus girlfriends] will kiss, model bikinis and moan when players stroke their chests with a stylus, but sex and nudity are out of the question,” Huffington post explains. “Neither the chastity nor young age of the girls has kept players from being attracted to their girlfriends, however.”

To try and make this relationship even more realistic, if you consider it realistic at all, there are hugging pillows with the images of the LovePlus girls printed on them. Apparently, there are clothed and semi-nude versions available.  Of course, users still swear that the main appeal is the emotional, not physical, support.

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This strange, but wide-spread phenomenon has been captivating the hearts of many. People have claimed their virtual relationships have not only lasted longer than real relationships, it has felt more rewarding.

While we’re personally not ready to pour our emotions into a video game, it turns out many people already have. Tell us what you think.

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Farmers in Japan Create Pentagon-Shaped Fruits

Iyokan is a Japanese citrus fruit widely produced in Japan. The fruit is apparently more bitter than orange, but more sweet than grapefruit.

Japanese farmers placed a pentagon mold on the citrus fruit to mold the fruit into the creative shape. Why go through the trouble of making the ‘Gokaku no Iyokan’ pentagon-shaped fruit?

Apparently, ‘Gokaku no Iyokan’ translates to ‘sweet smell of success in exams.’ You guessed it. The pentagon-shaped fruit were handed out as good luck charms to students for the entrance exam season in Yawatahama, Ehime.

In Japan, the National Center Test for University Admissions is a test given to third year high school students. Results of the exam will determine if the student moves on to prestigious universities in the country.

The students needed all the luck they could get. The Japanese entrance exams are notorious for their difficulty and the third year student often spends their entire year (and most of their other high school years) preparing for the exam. At one point, the saying “Yontou-goraku (four-pass, five-fail)” began spreading. It warns students that anyone who got more than five hours of sleep a night would fail the exam because they did not spend enough time studying.

We certainly hope the ‘Gokaku no Iyokan’ helps!

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Yoko Ono Writes Letter to Japanese Fishermen for Killing Dolphins

Story by Taylor Weik.

Yoko Ono, Japanese artist, peace activist and widow of Beatle John Lennon, wrote a letter to the Japanese fishermen of Taiji, who on Tuesday continued their controversial annual capture-and-kill of bottlenose dolphins.

Taiji, a rural whaling town in Japan, has been the focus of controversy recently for their infamous annual dolphin drive hunt, which takes place every year from September to April. Drive hunting involves corralling dolphins into coves, where they can be cornered and trapped, or killed. The practice has been highlighted in the 2009 Oscar-nominated documentary “The Cove,” which depicts graphic scenes of slowly dying dolphins and blood-stained ships and waters.

250 dolphins were driven into Taiji’s “killing cove” on Thursday, where they spent four days in a selection process. 52 dolphins were sold to marine parks and aquariums, while 40 more were slaughtered and sold to butchers. It is unclear what the fishermen plan to do with the rest of the corralled dolphins.

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Ono voiced her opposition in a letter addressed to the Taiji fishermen on her website she shared with Lennon, Imagine Peace. In the letter, she pleads for the fishermen to think of the reputation of their country, and how killing dolphins will only portray Japan as a country of violence.

“I am sure that it is not easy, but please consider the safety of the future of Japan, surrounded by many powerful countries which are always looking for the chance to weaken the power of our country,” Ono writes. “The future of Japan and its safety depends on many situations, but what you do with Dolphins now can create a very bad relationship with the whole world.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended the practice during a news conference in Tokyo, stating that dolphin fishing “is a form of traditional fishing in our country.”

Strange New Japanese Photo Trend?

One of Japan’s most popular subcultures is the gyaru/gal subculture. Gyaru is largely characterized by having heavily bleached or dyed hair fashioned in big and eccentric hairstyles, highly decorated nails, dramatic makeup and equally dramatic clothes.

Even more interesting, this Japanese street fashion has various subcategories which have distinct styles. Some wear more glitter, some dress up in school uniforms, some even sport dark spray-on tans. Needless to say, these boys and girls are not afraid to catch attention.

And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. The current trending topic on Japanese twitter as well as 2ch, the country’s largest and most popular online forum, is a new Japanese photo trend that seems to be gaining popularity in the gyaru subculture.

If you were upset that the duckface ruined pictures, you haven’t seen anything yet. This possible new photo trend seems to defeat the purpose of the picture all together.

According to Kotaku, the latest photo trend to hit Toyko is to hide your face by looking down while a picture is being taken. Everything else about the photo seems natural. Many of the girls are even still throwing up a peace sign.

You can bet people have been confused about this pose which Japanese media is calling the “Face Down Pose.” People have tried to find the meaning and purpose behind the photo trend. Some claim the teens are trying to make their head/hair appear larger. Others have said that the culture is shy and ashamed of how they look, but we doubt that one.

Realistically, trends may not have a reason behind them at all. Someone could have looked down once and others followed along for humorous purposes.

Whatever the reason, let’s just hope the trend doesn’t make its way here. The last thing we need is a bunch of faceless pictures. pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6

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Problematic Image of The Day: Japanese Show Claims There Are Right & Wrong Ways To Be A Fat Woman

In the United States, the pressure for a woman to be thin is undeniable. Nearly $35 billion a year is spent on weight loss products such as pills, machines and supplements. Everyday advertisements remind us that society has an ideal body weight and we are pressured to try every method to obtain this ideal body image.

This is precisely why it’s striking to discover that Japan places even more pressure on Japanese women. Japan goes to extreme lengths to make sure their citizens are maintaining a slim physique.

Last year, a B&B in Osaka called Lady Share House had the rent of their rooms dependent on the tenant’s weight. The rent would increase with every pound gained and decrease with every pound lost. We can already see the problems which may arise from this tactic. What if someone is in the position of financial hardship and is willing to go to extreme and unhealthy measures  to decrease their rent price?

A week later, a Japanese weight loss app was released which had  “attractive” anime men encourage the user to lose weight. By encourage, I mean these anime characters would say verbally abusive things to the user like, “Fat girl, do some more exercise, okay fattie?”

Every now and then, some Japanese citizens show resistance towards this insane amount of pressure, but these methods can quickly backfire. For instance, La Farfa, a magazine which features only plus-size women, has started to advocate for the term “marshmallow girl.” The aim of the new nickname is to associate chubbiness with cuteness instead of the negative connotations of a nickname like “fatty.” Unfortunately, many readers seemed to dislike the idea of chubby women being associated to food of any kind. One Audrey reader simply stated that they would rather be called fat.

Clearly, good intentions may still be very negative and problematic. This seems to be the case with a Japanese television show pointing out the “right and wrong ways to be a fat girl.”

According to RocketNews24, a Japanese twitter user posted a chart which they saw on a morning television show. The chart distinguished the traits between “OK Chubby” girls and “NG (No Good) Chubby” Girls.


According to the RocketNews24 translation of the chart, the following are considered traits of “OK Chubby” girls:
-Charming and bright smile.
-A big eater.
-Makes an effort an effort to look cute and doesn’t worry about showing skin.
-Clothes are brightly colored.
-Hairstyle and make up is carefully done.

The following are considered traits of “NG (No Good) Chubby” Girls:
-Expressionless and always alone.
-A small eater.
-Clothes are not revealing and attempt to hide figure.
-Only chooses dark clothing.
-Dress like they don’t care or just gave up.


Where to begin? Let’s start with the very big fact that there is no right or wrong way to be chubby. The chart not only makes broad assumptions about women, it’s just plain insulting. How is a woman a “No Good Chubby” simply because she wears dark clothing?

We’re not sure if the chart was trying to be helpful, but it definitely missed its mark. There is no information about the television show which featured the chart, but we certainly hope this was poor taste in humor instead of actual opinion.

 

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Do You Prefer An Older Or Younger Lover? Japan Responds

They say that age is just a number, but apparently people still have their preferences. For many of us, there has been a long-standing belief that older men prefer younger women and younger women prefer older men.

Recently, this trend seems to have shifted.The rise of terms such as “cougar” and “MILF” have increased in popularity. This has become so evolved in mainstream media that even “Hot Mom” photo competitions exist. The idea of “the attractive older woman” has been embraced.

In the past, if you were a woman who dated a younger man, you were laughed at, called a “cradle-robber” and even called desperate. Women were led to believe in finding an older man to ensure that they were nurtured and cared for. Times have changes and more and more women are leaning away from this path.

Sandra L. Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine, told The New York Times, “For a long time we’ve been fed this idea that women should look for a man to take care of her, a man that is more educated, has a better job and makes more money. That might be fine and dandy if you’re in high school and have this fairy tale Prince Charming. But when you look at adult women, most are self-sufficient and they don’t have to look for that.”

When NBC News looked into this trend, they noted that women may be more interested in younger men because,

-Older women are looking better every day, thanks to creative medical advances and a gym on every corner.

-Women are more likely to come back on the dating market because of divorce and a longer expected life span.

-Not as many women are looking for the picket fence and two cars. Now companionship, travel, and fun are coming to the forefront.

-Women may also want a man with a less-developed career who could follow her or take care of children, if that is a factor.

-For their part, younger men often find older women more interesting, experimental, fun to talk to, financially settled, and more adept sexually.

 

While the U.S. has begun embracing the idea of older women with younger men, Japan has kept true to their traditional views on relationships.

Earlier this month, a Japanese dating app called Match Alarm asked nearly 3,000 singles if they preferred dating someone the same age, younger, or older. The response was unanimous for women- 81.3% responded that they would prefer an older lover. This percentage is not as large for men, but a majority (46.9%) still prefer dating younger women.

Despite this preference towards traditional ways, Japan was still surprised that one in three men want an older lover. In fact, once the numbers were separated by age group, more than 50% of men between the ages of 20 and 24 preferred older women.

Japanese women generally seemed to agree on older men. Even the oldest age group, 35-39 most preferred dating older men. Check out the results below.

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So tell us- do you prefer an older or a younger lover?

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