baseball

Handkerchief Prince Saito Yuki is worth a stare

Of course I have no interest in watching sports. Athletes, on the other hand, are a perfect invitation for gazing and dreaming. Recently I learned about this famous Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher, a former Waseda high school and college star who has been nicknamed the handkerchief prince. Apparently he sweats a lot, and needs to frequently mop up.

These random photos attest to his professional achievements and gaze-worthy presence. I am not sure why these semi-naked photos are online, although I think wearing only lycra fluorescent underwear makes acupuncture more effective.

Who are your favorite athletes? Which university has the best men’s hair and fashion? Is any sports team better named than Nippon Ham Fighters?

 

Matsui is a champ

Matsui Hideki is champ

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like baseball or most spectator sports. However, I do like good-looking athletes. I am crushing a bit on Matsui Hideki whose Yankees team just won the World Series.

Somehow I never liked Suzuki Ichiro, another famous Japanese baseball player in the US. Not because of his talents, or lack thereof. He’s just too skinny and, well, ugly looking. Yes, I am shallow.

松井様、おめでとう!Which athletes do you think are hot?!

(ps: Major yucks. I think in the background on the left is the rich dude who just bought himself a 3rd term as mayor. Stay away from the good-looking athletes, ok?).

Marriage Hunting, or Failed Heterosexuality?

Konkatsu bra

This image is priceless: it’s a “konkatsu bra” in which inserting a ring stops the marriage deadline countdown and plays a congratulatory wedding march. I love how Japan always introduces new sociological terms, and this one is a winner. “Konkatsu” is a combination of the words “wedding” and “activity,” and means “marriage hunting.”

In addition to negative reproduction rates, Japan also has remarkably low marraige rates: from 1975 to 2005, the numbers of unmarried people have risen 14% to 47% for men aged 30 to 34 and from 8% to 32% for women.

Sociologist Yamada Masahiro and journalist Shirakawa Tohko invented the term and sold over 170,000 copies of their book Konkatsu Jidai (The Era of Marriage Hunting). The authors believe that marriage must be actively sought. There are now konkatsu magazines, a television show, bars, shrines, and even a special section of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball stadium catering to this new goal.

Supposedly women are too busy focused on careers, while men are less aggressive because of money concerns and job insecurity. One woman quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, despite her failed efforts at marriage hunting, somehow imagines that “marriage is like permanent employment.” Apparently, women far outnumber men in “marriage hunting” events.

I find this term and newly defined phenomenon incredibly funny. Maybe Japan would have better luck with its marriage rates if it allowed and actively promoted gay, lesbian and trans marriage. Or maybe marriage is just not that desirable. My guess is that the government will next promote out of wedlock procreation. Gambate, Nihon!

Baseball madness

Baseball madness

That glazed expression is the result of two beers before dinner. And those tiny plastic umbrellas? No, it is not raining. It is a fan tribute for a home run at the Swallows baseball game in Jingu Stadium. Anyone who knows me could be surprised seeing me at a ball game, but I was invited and, well, it’s Japan, so why not?

My pal encouraged me to sit in the cheap seat bleachers to fully enjoy the rowdy fans. It was a packed night because the opponents were the very popular Hanshin Tigers from Osaka. The stadium is divided right to left for each team’s fans, and we sat in the Swallows section. Although the rules are the same, the atmosphere is very different.

On our side, there were many plastic bats rhythmically beating, team jerseys and towels, general chants and player-specific chants (including a version of “Oh Canada” for one foreign player, and “ikemen” for one of the Japanese players), a few horns, some very large flags, and beer vendors in neon clothes with kegs strapped to their backs. While the Swallows fans have their plastic mini-umbrellas, the Tigers have large yellow balloons which they release into the sky at the 7th inning. A Japanese fan in the Swallows stands complained that it produces a lot of trash.

This fan in front of us was very friendly, proud of his team and their foreign players, and eager to lend us his dancing umbrella. Despite his super-butch appearance, I liked how he explained his “ikemen” chant (“because he’s sexy”), and that he came to the game with his buddy and the hugest pink and white sports bag I have ever seen.

Swallows fan