Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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FJLIT Video Vortex: Week Ending Jan. 28, 2012
Ok, Next Do It Through a Hurtling Train: The video clip of Shunsuke Nakamura's bending free kick through a moving bus aired on a Japanese New Year's variety program and quickly found its way to being viewed and mentioned by people from around the globe. The ex-Bhoy has still got it! Here's a clip of Shun's beauty during Confederations Cup 2003 against France. Most overseas football fans may remember him most for his home and away double against Van der Sar in the Champions League, but since Japan's playing France later on this year I thought this might be more timely.

What's That You Say? You Thought I'd Forgotten How to Score Goals?: Shinji Kagawa scores two for BVB Dortmund in the 3-1 win over Hoffenheim, goals number five and number six for him this season. Despite high praise following his slinky and creative performance last Round, Kagawa has been struggling to find the right balance between feeding the passes and aiming for goal. This clip of his two assists against Wolfsburg in Round 12 (watch from 7m12sec) displays that attractive ease with which Dortmund can play when the team is jelling.

I Know Kung-Fu: Hajime Hosogai may be from Japan, but his assist for teammate Stephen Hain's equalizer against Kaiserslautern had a bit of the Jackie Chan flair. His FC Augsburg side are clearly heading for relegation danger as they have only won 3 games in 19 rounds.

Just Kick It To My Head: Mike Havenaar kept some hope alive when he scored his first Eredivisie goal of his life in the 83rd minute against top side PSV. He was substituted in just minutes prior. His post-match interview was a delightful study of how bi- and tri-linguals weave in and out of different languages, especially when they are not completely comfortable in one or the other. Yes, Mike is tall. He's definitely tall for a Japanese player, but he's even tall for the Dutch. (This reminds me of the story his Vitesse teammate Michihiro Yasuda once shared about toilets in the Netherlands being too high for comfortable usage by leg-length-challenged individuals like him... but I digress.)

Naoki Friends Memorial Match Jan 22 2012
What He's Left Behind: The memorial match (click for digest program in Japanese) for ex-Marinos, Matsumoto Yamaga and International defender Naoki Matsuda brought bittersweet memories to the crowds that gathered at the Yokohama pitch for one final goodbye. Team Marinos (where the charismatic number 3 played for 15 years) played against Team Naoki Friends. It was a star-studded affair with the who's who of Yokohama and national teams of days gone by. Former National team manager Phillipe Troussier, who had a special relationship with Matsuda, returned as did Hidetoshi Nakata and others from 02 World Cup squad. For more footage of the event, you can check these additional clips.

Matsu died suddenly of heart failure during training in August 2011 at the age of 34. He was a real no-frills footballer and a guy's guy with none of the pretensions that may breed among those with a successful pro career, and was often cited as one of the few people who could truly argue with Hide Nakata on equal terms.

Are You Really Going to Wear That?

National team Home Kit
National team Away Kit
Sooooo.....Here are the New Home and Away kits for the Japan National Team.

I'm still not quite convinced that these two were great design choices graphically speaking -- though you can tell the creators bent over backwards to execute the difficult task of minimalist design to represent some great meaning.

Gut-reactions from supporters have not been on the positive side -- overall effect of the line is weak, opponents can read player weight distribution if you put a line down the middle, why is the blue getting so dark, people have to squint and cross their eyes to see the washed out bird shadow, and so on.

This, of course, has not stopped the home kits from selling out, however. A new kit is a new kit afterall. And despite the mixed response, the intention of bringing Japan together in Unity following the earthquake and tsunami disaster has been one undeniably significant facet of football in Japan during the 10 months since.

Editing is an Art!
One of my favorite people on Youtube is Sonareditor -- a super editor who creates wonderfully inspiring videos related to some of Japanese football's biggest moments in the past year or so. He clips bits and pieces of video and melds it brilliantly with a J-pop song.

While I get myself organized and gather my wits, please take a break from your hectic day with these videos:

This one is an overview of the 2011 Asia Cup held in Qatar. All the goofs and glory.

This is from the Charity football game held on March 29 immediately after the earthquake/tsunami/radiation tragedy of last March 11. The Japan national team played the "J-league Team As One" (no slouch of a team, a roster populated with such names as Tulio, Shunsuke Nakamura, Kengo Nakamura, Ono, Ogasawara, Nakazawa, Haavenar, Komano, Okubo, legendary Kazu Miura, et al, headed by Stojkovic). It was in a way the most important game in our football history though it will never be recorded in the official books. Footage of the game are intercut with scenes of the players from J league teams actively collecting donations in their respective cities. Here is a digest of the actual charity event and game, in case you hadn't caught it.

This one celebrated the excitement stirred by our two sidebacks, Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan) and Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 06), who were going head-to-head in the Champions League. It's funky.


Since this blog was on hiatus during the 2010 World Cup, here's one of my favorite videos capturing the excitement of Japan's 2010 group stage adventures. (Not related to Sonareditor.)

Are Japanese supporters hooligans....? :) Nah. Here is Video proof. This was taken in Roppongi district of Tokyo in the early morning hours following Japan's 3-1 win over Denmark in the group stage of World Cup 2010. Everyone was watching in bars or on their phones out in the street, so when we won and qualified for the knockout stage, well... we were shocked and ecstatic. But we obey traffic lights!

Ballon d'Or Gala: Nadeshiko Show How It's Done!
Sawa and Messi
The World Cup victory by the Japanese Women's Football team in Germany 2011 was a tremendous feat, especially following the earthquake-tsunami-radiation triple-tragedy of last March. Add three Ballon d'Ors to that feat and it's almost a story too unbelievable for Japanese football supporters. Captain Homare Sawa, coach Norio Sasaki and the Japan Football Assosiation received highest honors at last night's FIFA ceremony.

Sawa is the first player ever from Asia to win the Ballon d'Or.

Here's a clip of the women's presentation.

Here's a clip of the Women's Coach presentation

Here's a clip of the Fair Play presentation

It is partially voiced-over in Japanese but relevant bits remain in English.

If you're interested, here's the Voting Breakdown.

Japan Men's Coach Alberto Zaccheroni voted for 1. Iniesta 2. C.Ronaldo 3. Messi.
Japan Men's Captain Makoto Hasebe voted for 1. Messi 2. Dani Alvez 3. Xavi.

Rising from the ashes, albeit wobbly...!
January 8 2012:

Well the Mayans said we are kaput this year, so no better time to restart this blog, right? I always hedge my bets...

Please stay tuned, and I should have some updates coming.

Meanwhile, just want to wish everyone out there a Happy New Year!

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