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Thread: Suguri vs. Onda vs. Arakawa

  1. #16

    Re: The Japanese ladies

    Fumie was the last skater, so you could say Yoshie was jumping up and down because she had just won the title. But given what she had said about Fumie (or didn't say), it may be more than that. I just remembered how Yagudin was criticized for pumping fist over Plushenko's fall at 1998 Worlds.

    I didn't see it myself (or Yoshie and Shizuka flashing the victory signs in front of TV camera). So maybe someone who saw the NHK coverage can put all this into context.

  2. #17

    Re: The Japanese ladies

    <span style="color:maroon;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:x-small;">Fumie and Shizuka have each tasted the victory of a national title and Yoshie is hungry to win one--it makes sense that there would be a LOT of competition and tension between them.</span>

    <span style="color:blue;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:xx-small;">GBM, read your private email. </span>

  3. #18

    Re: Suguri vs. Onda vs. Arakawa

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>It seems that same-country rivalry tends to be nastier (Yagudin/Plushenko, Michelle/Tara, Sarah/Sasha, Suguri/Onda, etc. In some of those cases, it's fans rather than skaters who are nasty to one anohter.)[/quote] AY2006,
    ITA with your comment, especially the part about the fans. I saw NHK and there wasn't enough shown to draw any conclusions about Fumie, YO, and Shizuka. But clearly you have more specific info about their competitive relationship and the way the fans feel. Actually, this might make a good thread topic...hmm:smokin:

    Anyway, interesting post and welcome to GS.

  4. #19

    Culture clash

    For those of you confused, and it seems some of you are, here's the difference between China and Japan:


    BIG country with a billion people. Bordered by many countries, including Russia and Korea.

    Archipelago with considerably less people. Bordered mostly by whales marked for sushi.


    One of the few pictogram languages still in use. Spoken language is pitch-based.

    Borrowed many words from Chinese, including Kanji, but is a distinct language composed of phonetic elements like English. Spoken language can be conveyed without pitches.


    Got invaded and massacred by the Japanese.

    Did the masscares.



    Shintoism - a combination of animism (think pet rocks) and Buddhism


    Hong Kong cinema has all the violent kung fu stuff.

    Japanese cartoon, or anime, has all the little girls with big eyes committing various acts of violence in giant robots and/or getting raped by monsters with big tentacles.

    Why the people will get mad if you confuse the two:

    The Chinese are still a tad miffed over WWII.

    The Japanese are racial elitists, they consider themselves a superior and distinct race and resent their cultural ties to China.

    How to tell which skaters are from where by their names:

    Skaters usually have monosyllabic names. Think Pang! And Zhang! And Wang!

    Skaters usually have multisyllabic names. The letter L is never used.

  5. #20

    The inscrutable Orientals

    Sociology! Orientals! My department!

    If you think Chinese people are reserved, you have obviously never been to a dim sum restaurant. The noise there is deafening. Even outside of an all-Chinese environment, Chinese folks, particularly those from Hong Kong, are loud and obnoxious. Go to a few tourist traps and you'll find out the hard way, sooner or later. And no, people don't stay expressionless when they're yapping and flapping, not even the Chinese.

    So where does this inscrutable Chinese stereotype come from? Probably from misread expression cues (how expressions are conveyed facially vary from culture to culture) and Chinese people being polite. Yes, politeness is still a big deal in Chinese culture, but only to strangers. Politeness in Chinese society is equated with being guarded, since tact really is just self-censorship. That means, if a traditional-esque Chinese person is being polite to you, you guys are not friends! If a traditional-esque Chinese person tells you you smell like crap and you really do, you're family!

    The Japanese are a different animal altogether. I may have grown up in Chinese society (Hong Kong to be exact), but I did grow up on Japanese cartoons and video games, which are devastatingly accurate reflections of Japanese culture. The Japanese, as a rule, are extremely polite in public, regardless of familiarity. The Japanese, much more so than the Chinese, have a self-worth that is dependant on public image. For example, Japanese businessmen would stay in a bar and drink until late at night before going home to give people (including his family) the illusion that he's working late.

    Displays of emotion in Japanese society is very strictly structured according to gender, age and role (occupational or otherwise). Young people should smile and be happy. Girls should be demure. Older men should be lecherous (don't argue with me, we're talking about the land of used panties vending machines). Great oozing displays of shame are always welcomed after a public failure.

    How does all this apply to skating performances? Not very directly in the case of the Chinese, since skating is not considered an artistic endeavor in the country. It's going to take a while before Chinese skaters put together emoting and artistry. Skating is still a new thing in China.

    The Japanese, on the other hand, know full well the artistic requirements of skating. The culture puts a great emphasis on packaging, which should translate to their skaters. My remark about appropriate emotional displays apply. The girls can skate to dainty programs. The guys can skate to tragedy. Everybody can skate to something perky. Failure to do so reflects poorly upon the skater's duty to society, and should bring lots of shame.

    Oopsie, I almost forgot one very important factor about emotional displays: the individual vs. the society. In both Chinese and Japanese society, when it comes to skating, it's about glorifying the country. Expressing yourself is all very nice and good, as long as it expresses things that reflect correctly on the mothership. This, naturally, cuts off venues for artistry.

  6. #21

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals


    If you still resent what the Japanese Army did in China in 1930s and '40s, I understand that, and I will apologize to you and all the other Chinese people. (For whatever it's worth. Too bad you don't hear the same from Japanese politicians.)

    But please do not try to reinforce the stereotype about Japan, its culture or people. Your description has one foot left in the 20th century, not to mention facutally inaccurate. (Like whales and sushi.) You cannot grasp a country of over 100 million with animation films and video games.

    Thank you very much.

  7. #22

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals

    I didn't get the sense from Fetal's post that he was personally resentful of what the Japanese army did to China in WWII. It seemed to me he was just stating facts. As for the "whales marked for sushi" comment, it seemed pretty clear to me that was meant to be ironic.

    Anyway, I found Fetal's take on the differences between Japanese and Chinese culture very interesting and enlightening, especially as they relate to skating.

  8. #23


    I agree - let's not use this board to discuss/perpetuate racial stereotypes. It is a figure skating discussion forum, after all, and I would hope that everyone would use sports as a way to bridge gaps between cultures, not widen them. Even if the ISU or IOC or sports writers may succumb to politics and racism, I'd like to think that educated fans like ourselves would not.

    But anyway, back to the Fumie/Yoshie/Shizuka discussion, I have a question/comment about Fumie's artistry. She strikes me as a delightful person and I'd love to see her win more, but she honestly doesn't strike me as expressive as others on the board seem to think she is. I agree that she is far beyond Yoshie in artistry, but I think that she is on par with Arakawa. From my standpoint, it is more a matter of taste between the two of them. Arakawa is more smooth and fluid on the ice, albeit some would argue that she's too subtle, but I do sense that she genuinely interprets and feels the music. Suguri, however, sometimes seems to be trying too hard to be expressive. I think she'll get to the point of being naturally musical and artistic, but at this point, she still comes across as forced. Am I missing something when I watch Fumie?

  9. #24

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals

    (This message was left blank)

  10. #25

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals


    "The Japanese are racial elitists, they consider themselves a superior and distinct race and resent their cultural ties to China."

    I don't want this to be presented as a "fact." Yes, there are racial elitists in Japan, just like in any other society. But to suggest this is a "general" characteristic of the country is offensive.

    On the other hand, still quite a few Chinese people resent Japanese. When World Gymnastics Championships were held in China a few years ago, Japanese girls were literally booed off the balance beam for the atrocity commited by their countrymen decades ago. (Actually, I am afraid Japanese skaters might be booed like that at Four Continents this year.)

    Shitoism is not a "combination of animism and Buddhism." It should not be presented as a "fact." And if the way Chinese people behave at Dim Sam restraunts is a "proof" that they are not "reserved" people, what about the way Japanese people behave at Karaoke bars?

    If Fatal meant the whole posts (both of them) as satires, that's fine. But I get the sense that the second post was at least semi-serious. And when two posts are put together like that, you cannot say the first one has absolutely no relevance for the second.

    Now I stop my ranting and go back to the original topic...

  11. #26

    I'm merely monotyping, I swear!

    In the past, before any sociological or cultural discussions I make, I usually make a lengthy preface about how this is an observation about a society/societies on a macro level. To apply such observations uniformally is stereotyping, to merely make such observations is sociology. Mmmkay? Got it? I guess I should save this in a text file since I do like to rant about cultures.

    For instance, I said "Japan is a Shintoist society." That is a perfectly accurate statement. If I had said, "Fumie Suguri is Japanese, therefore she owns a pet rock," that would be stereotyping. What I said in the post is based on anecdotal evidence, historical facts and actual statistics. Since it wasn't written as an academic paper, I skipped the citations. For me to put that kind of content on this forum, I'd have to be paid. Just take what you can get, or don't.

  12. #27

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals


    "Suguri, however, sometimes seems to be trying too hard to be expressive. I think she'll get to the point of being naturally musical and artistic, but at this point, she still comes across as forced."

    No, I don't think you are missing anything. I think the criticism that she is "too expressive" is actually that she is "trying too hard to be expressive." I don't think she is not "naturally" musical or artistic. (Not sure about how musical and artistic Arakawa is, but that's another topic.) In fact, I doubt if anything came naturally for her. I recently watched her GP Final performance in 1999, and the only thing that impressed me was speed.

    IMHO, what sperates Fumie from Shizuka (or any other Japanese skater) is her "presentation" skills, not artistry. (Okay, she is more artistic than Yoshie, but almost every senior skater is.)

  13. #28

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals

    Well, as I said, I know little of the cultures, but don't confuse chinese and japanese countries, language, skaters or food.

    I do have to say if you look at the 4-5 best skaters in the world in terms of longevity, talent, medals won, in the last 10 years, you come up with Japanese, and Japanese/American skaters: Yuka Sato and Kristi Yamaguchi and Chinese and Chinese /American skaters Lu Chen and Michelle Kwan.

    If you look at 1994 skater Sato winning at worlds you see the goods, but also the reserve, demureness the shyness. She is a very different skater now after living in the west, marrying an American, etc. She's a better skater. It's not just maturity, she skates with more joy and less tension. She just beat Hughes and Irina. She is still very understated, but some consider her the best in the world. She has grown so much as a pro. Whenever I see her father with his students, I always feel bad for them, as if the marks aren't good enough, he never comforts or smiles and the ladies look ashamed. Which is unfair as the judges can be atrocious, as we all know, and it isn't brain surgery, as Kwan used to say.

    These ladies need to skate with a sense of joy, not fear of failure. How can you say, have fun, lighten up when they carry a nation on their backs? After Rgals comments about this aspect, I wonder if the Japanese ladies will ever do better than Bronze? If it's a jumpfest in 2006, perhaps Miki Ando will be on top. The presentation however is a real shortcoming compared to the USA ladies, IMO

    Lu Chen, two time Olympic medalist, exquisite World champion - If China were not so new to skating and not communist, Lu Chen might havehad gold. I think the Chinese top pair , S&Z, were well overdue for the world medal. They had to wait, but they had the best technical content for a few years, and the presentation/costumes ---everything to be placed over the Russians and Canadians.

    Nagano had 3 perfect skates for the ladies. I think Lu Chen deserved the gold. Tara's jumps not withstanding, I wonder how politics played into that decision? Number 2 was a first generation Chinese American, whose Program was so beautiful. Michelle before her Nagano loss was phenomenal every time out. Number 3 the best lady in China, an Olympic medalist, a world champion, from communist China, Lu Chen.

    She came west and did not keep up her technical content, so besotted was she with being "free" in America, but her presentation as an eligible was as good as any lady she was against, and as any Gold Medalist I've seen.

    I really wonder now, if there simply was no way a chinese or chinese american skater would be given gold in "Japan's" Olympics? Tara's speed and Tara's jumps? Maybe, but I'll never know as the judging has always been inscrutable, that is for sure.

    I think stereotypes about work ethics and incredible family love and support of most Asian families is true. Lucky Kwan, Lucky Kristi. It is a cultural advantage. It is the best advantage in life, IMO.

    When I asked the question, I asked for a Japanese or Japanese/american poster to elucidate what Japan is like now, because I know less, of couse.

    I wish the poster who is apparently Japanese would post more on the topic.

    FA, you made some very good points; sarcasm is a form of humor. I think if we had totally serious threads without any edge we'd all go to sleep.

    Partial kudos as deserved.

  14. #29

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals

    Excusing your spelling, shitake mushroom head, Shintoism is a combination of animism and Buddhism. Go ask any theology professor, go on go. Oh fine, let me do the citation thingie for free, here's a link from a Japanese website introducing people to Shintoism:

    Racial elitism is a huge problem in Japan, do I really need to go into details? This could get uncomfortable for antsy people who wishes that even if people don't all get along, at least we'll never mention the disharmony. Anyways ...

    Japan's involvement in WWII was prompted by racial elitism, the belief that the Japanese military can triumph over America's. I mean, enough people must've had that belief for Japan to go forward with a strike against the US, or is that completely unreasonable?

    Fast forward to the 80's, we have Japanese prime minister Nakasone delineating for us the superiority of Japanese society due to its monolithic quality, and that Japanese people and its culture sprang up on the islands individually. Here's a very lengthy, though excerpted translation of his controversial speech:

    While his unkind comments towards America and its pluralism caused much unrest in foreign press, the Japanese could care less. Nakasone had one of the longest reigns in office in postwar Japan, he even recieved an extension on his final term. He was just one man, of course. But one very important man.

    But he's not the last prime minister of Japan to engage in plays to appeal to nationalism. As recently as 1999, prime minister Obuchi pushed "for the formal recognition of the Rising Sun emblem and the 'Kimigayo' anthem has a broader significance. The flag and the song are widely regarded as symbols of the emperor worship and Japanese militarism of the 1930s and 1940s." You can read the article here:

    Obuchi also wrote to Time magazine lobbying for Emperor Hirohito as "person of the century." He also keeps a picture of Hirohito by a picture of his father in his office. Imagine if the German prime minister keeps a picture of Kaiser Wilhelm in his office, it'd cause quite a ruckus in Germany, eh?

    So, please don't tell me racial elitism isn't a big deal in Japan, or it's more or less the same as any other country. I don't idly make observations and post them.

  15. #30

    Re: The inscrutable Orientals

    "I wish the poster who is apparently Japanese would post more on the topic."

    I am afraid it's hard to post more when the whole country is characterized as "racial elitist" by Mr. Know-It-All.

    Is he suggesting that White Americans in the South are also "racial elitists"? After all, the segregation lasted until '60s. That's even more recent than WWII. And why is Michelle Kwan so popular in Japan, if people there look down on Chinese?

    About Nakasone, how does he know "Japanese couldn't care less"? How many Japanese newspapers was he reading at the time, and how many TV networks was he watching? And since he knows about everything, he probably knows about former Prime Minister Mori, whose remarks about Shintoism and the Emperor cause a huge stir in Japan, which eventually led to his downfall. Well, maybe it doesn't matter to him because that kind of "news" didn't back up his agenda.

    BTW, the article you linked does not say Shintoism is a combination of animism and Buddhism. It says Shintoism changed significantly since Buddhism was introduced to Japan and two of them blended. Perhaps you should read more carefully before you call me a shiitake mushroom head.

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