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02-18-22 06:56PM
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The Lore of Japanese Curling

hailstone, I hope you don't mind me creating this thread.

To bring everyone up to speed, buried in the very long Olympic 2022 thread are some lores on Japanese curling. This is something that I've always been curious about, and hailstone seems to be quite knowledgeable, so I thought I'll create this thread to un-bury this material.

Here's what was said so far.

quote:
Originally posted by hailstone
That's the way it was done in Japan for decades. A couple of corporations sponsored teams, and they ruthlessly cut and spliced their teams on four year cycles to give them the best chance of advancing to the Olympics. And none of these teams ever made it to the medal round of an Olympics or World Championships.

Then one of those women players said "Hey, I want to build a team of female curlers from my home town. And I want it to be stronger than a four year cycle." It went through some iterations, but the core of her team was founded in 2015, and hasn't changed since. Possibly never will change. These are four players with shared roots and a firm desire to succeed as an unbroken team.

And that was the team that got Japan its first World Championships medal in 2016. And that was the team that got Japan its first Olympics curling medal in 2018. And that was the team that just advanced to the medal round of the Olympics again yesterday, after qualifying for the Olympics because the team before them couldn't do so at the World Championships.

The corporations are still around, hacking and pruning their teams, and sometimes they become national champions, but they never enjoy the same success on the international stage as the unbroken team of Loco Solare, a.k.a. Team Fujisawa, that works odd jobs at insurance agencies and car dealerships to get by.

Chemistry is important in curling. IMO, the whole is definitely worth more than the sum of its parts.
quote:
Originally posted by curlingclips
Fujisawa at one point was a member of Chubu Electric team, and represented JPN at 2013 World Women's by beating Loco Solare at Japanese Championship, if I remember correctly.

Do you know the story of how Satsuki Fujisawa the individual went from being a member of a corporation sponsored team to joining Loco Solare?
quote:
Originally posted by hailstone
She was a Hokkaido girl that had to move to Nagano to play on a major team. Kind of a square peg in a round hole that didn't form a deep bond with her team, so she took almost all of the decision-making onto her own shoulders.

Losing the play-in match for the 2014 Olympics to Hokkaido Bank took a mental toll. At the next National championships, she didn't even make the knockout round. At that point she quit Chubu Electric, and likely would have crashed out of competitive curling altogether without Mari Motohashi's invitation to join Loco Solare in 2015.

As an aside, Chinami Yoshida was an alternate on the Hokkaido Bank team that went to Sochi, and saw a little bit of playing time. But the day after they crashed out of the round robin, she was called into a room by the coach and told that her services wouldn't be needed anymore. She likely would have crashed out of competitive curling altogether without Mari Motohashi's invitation to join her sister Yurika in Loco Solare in 2014.


So here's my follow-up questions.

The fore mentioned Hokkaido Bank team, those are some of the curlers that made up Team Aomori that represented Japan at 2006 Olympics, right?

They are Ayumi Onodera, Yumie Hayashi, Moe Meguro, and Mari Motohashi herself, right?

So let me get this straight.

I think Team Aomori was the first breakout female Japanese curling stars, right? That the team that the movie SIMSONS was based on?

So Team Aomori somehow became a sponsored team, now Team Hokkaido Bank/Fortius, skipped by Sayaka Yoshimura, still containing some of the same original members. How did that sponsorship happen?

Finally, Wikipedia says that Mari Motohashi is now skipping her own team. So did she leave Loco Solare? Or did she create a new version with herself as skip?

Is Loco Solare and LS Kitami the exact same thing?

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02-18-22 07:15PM
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It’s no exaggeration that Fujisawa could significantly change the future of curling if Japan win the gold medal game.



Japan is already quite fond of curling, but if they go and win the Olympic title I think you’re going to see Japan (and other Far East nations) go absolutely nuts for the sport and we might well see Asian countries become the dominant force, especially in the women’s game.

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02-18-22 07:43PM
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Another question.

I'm aware of 3 Onoderas.

Ayumi Onodera (Ogasawara).
Kaho Onodera.
Ryoji Onodera.

How are these people related?

Am I right that Ryoji is the father of the two sisters?

Is Ryoji coaching Loco Solare/LS Kitami? Why is he not coaching Team Aomori/Hokkaido Bank/Fortius where the female Onoderas play/played?

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02-18-22 08:20PM
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Sorry, I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Japanese curling beyond the sphere of Loco Solare influence.

I do know that Ryuji, the coach of Loco Solare and assistant coach of Team Japan, is the father of Kaho, but I'm unaware of any relationship between them and Ayumi. Quick search of Google seems to confirm that.

It's not always easy to coach or team with your child. Kaho and Ryuji actually finished third in Japan's first mixed doubles championship in 2007, but the following year Ryuji teamed with Megumi Mabuchi (who would later go on to become a founding member of Loco Solare)

Ryuji and Kaho talked a bit about the experience in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD2fLNgdr3A

Though Kaho doesn't recall, Ryuji says she said during the tournament "I don't want to team with you anymore, Dad!"

They look like a happy father/daughter pair now at least.

As for Mari, after the 2018 Games, she stepped away from the Loco Solare team as a player to focus more on her growing organization to manage all the sponsorships and stuff coming in. Later that year, she formed a team of junior players that she named Loco Stella, trying to nurture a next generation team. Originally these players played by themselves, but at some point within the last year Mari took over as skip.

Loco Stella recently won a local tournament to qualify for Hokkaido sectionals, but then unfortunately lost the third-place game for the final spot at this year's Japan Nationals.

quote:
Originally posted by Dangermouse
It’s no exaggeration that Fujisawa could significantly change the future of curling if Japan win the gold medal game.

Japan is already quite fond of curling, but if they go and win the Olympic title I think you’re going to see Japan (and other Far East nations) go absolutely nuts for the sport and we might well see Asian countries become the dominant force, especially in the women’s game.


Japan went absolutely batspit crazy when they won the bronze four years ago, but I still don't see any new rinks built outside of Hokkaido. There were plans to have 2021 Nationals at a big skating arena in Yokohama, but COVID killed that.

Overall there's a lot less buzz over the Olympics then there were four years ago, and the Japan/Korea match got less than half the viewership than it did in 2022. So honestly, even with a gold medal, I'm still not expecting to be able to find a rink nearby to play at anytime soon.

Last edited by hailstone on 02-18-22 at 08:38PM

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02-18-22 08:31PM
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All I know is if Japan wins gold it will be great for curling worldwide. Had the chance to meet them in the streets of New Glasgow NS few years back at the slam. Gave them a wave and asked if they won. All smiles and looks of how did this guy recognize us.

Always happy and smiling. Hope they win.

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02-18-22 08:46PM
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quote:
Originally posted by IN-OFF-FOR-2
All I know is if Japan wins gold it will be great for curling worldwide. Had the chance to meet them in the streets of New Glasgow NS few years back at the slam. Gave them a wave and asked if they won. All smiles and looks of how did this guy recognize us.

Always happy and smiling. Hope they win.


Got to see them in person in Karuizawa during a day of round robin action at Nationals in 2020, right before everything went to hell with COVID. Tickets were 3000 yen apiece, and the place was full.

Later on, the men played. Admission was free, but there were less than ten fans in attendance.

Personally, I think the talk that "Japan is crazy over curling" is missing the mark. Japan is crazy over Loco Solare. They are like a Japanese manga come to life, so people get drawn into their personal character and the extreme drama that unfolds around them, but I'm not sure that there are even 1 out of every 100 people that's interested in those girls that actually becomes interested in curling itself.

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02-18-22 08:53PM
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As far as you/anyone can tell, how are stones burned after the hog line handled in Japan?

Is it accurate to suggest that it's common for the non-offending team to penalize the touch by choosing to remove the stone, or is it perhaps more customary to choose the "let's pretend that didn't happen" option?

For what it's worth, I'm only aware of 2 situations involving burned stones with Japanese team.

2022 Olympics, women's JPN vs CAN. Stone was touched before the hog line by CAN, so technically JPN has nothing to do with what should happen next.

2018 Olympics, women's JPN vs OAR. Stone was touched by OAR in the house as stone is coming to a stop. JPN chose to remove it with no discussion. OAR protested and called for an umpire, who permitted JPN to choose the removal option.

If you're aware of any other burned stone incident involving a Japanese team, please share. Identify which game if possible. Link to videos would be helpful but not required.

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02-18-22 09:09PM
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I'm happy to answer questions that interest me, but I'm not here to do your research for you.

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02-18-22 09:18PM
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quote:
Originally posted by hailstone
I'm not here to do your research for you.

Understandable! I try to use "y'all" or "you/anyone", but sometimes I forget and just use "you", when I didn't mean to.

In any case, can you talk about Yuji Oguri? You mentioned this person's name as a major contributor to Japanese curling, but I'm not aware of who this person is.

I'm aware that there's a Japanese curling announcer whose catchphrase is "THIS! IS! CURLING!" in English, but I'm not sure if we're talking about the same person.

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02-18-22 09:31PM
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Answering my own question. There's a recently published New York Times article that mentions Yuji Oguri.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/...an-beijing.html
"Curling came to Japan in 1980 after Yuji Oguri, a resident of Tokoro, participated in a workshop with curlers from Alberta."

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02-18-22 09:45PM
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Example of Japanese curling followers. Team Koana at the time was 3rd or 4th ranked in Japan. At the spiel in Halifax 3-4 years ago coach for Japan from Winnipeg...was sitting beside me streaming on Facebook to Japan. On my other side was coach for team from Quebec doing the same on the men’s side. Quebec had 39 viewers. Japan had 40000. With live mikes. Had to be careful what we said.

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02-18-22 10:02PM
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I found this 2018 post on reddit that talks more about the lore.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Curling/co...am_and_curling/

I know that Loco Solare shows up on TV shows a lot, so a lot of this is probably common knowledge to Japanese audience, but I think most people outside Japan has no idea about the lore.

Warren Hansen did credit the Japanese with finally bringing curling to the Olympics, so really we should be more educated on this topic.

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02-18-22 11:10PM
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Cool

That is some cool stuff

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Rock On Bruh.

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02-18-22 11:10PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Dangermouse
It’s no exaggeration that Fujisawa could significantly change the future of curling if Japan win the gold medal game.

Japan is already quite fond of curling, but if they go and win the Olympic title I think you’re going to see Japan (and other Far East nations) go absolutely nuts for the sport and we might well see Asian countries become the dominant force, especially in the women’s game.


^ The same was said when Li Na of China won the French and Australian Opens in tennis in 2011 and 2014, respectively.
It didn't happen. While there was a minute growth of tennis in Asia as a result, it seems to have been negligible.

Granted, China and Japan are different countries, but there are some commonalities in the cultures.
And so, as others have mentioned, while Japan winning the gold in this Olympics will receive a lot of media attention in Japan, and will make people happy, it's quite unlikely to grow the game there to any noticeable degree.

I would love to meet team Fujisawa. They are so genuinely refreshing.
Sadly, COVID has reduced the opportunities to do so.

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Last edited by On The Nose on 02-18-22 at 11:14PM

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02-19-22 05:55PM
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quote:
Originally posted by IN-OFF-FOR-2
All I know is if Japan wins gold it will be great for curling worldwide. Had the chance to meet them in the streets of New Glasgow NS few years back at the slam. Gave them a wave and asked if they won. All smiles and looks of how did this guy recognize us.

Always happy and smiling. Hope they win.




Do you have any recommendations for a foreigner
who wishes to play in a Japanese bonspiel or watch their nationals?

I've somewhat intrigued of the Sapporo Curling Club.

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03-04-22 02:39AM
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For a sample of how small their home city of Kitami is, here are various Loco Solare players to give you a bicycle tour of their favorite spots.

Satsuki Fujisawa:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D04yLdLDKaE

Yumi Suzuki:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tgODsR5ioo

Yurika Yoshida:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioC6Iky80Go

Chinami Yoshida:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovOsgH6d0A4

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03-05-22 12:17AM
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That was actually the city in the summer. Here is Tokoro as it is today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YucTaYQVt48

IMHO, any city that literally has a shrine to curling has a claim to being the greatest curling city in the world.

(To clear up any confusion, Tokoro and Kitami were once separate cities, but in 2006 Tokoro merged with Kitami. Tokoro is now a town within the city of Kitami).

Last edited by hailstone on 03-05-22 at 01:33AM

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03-05-22 12:23AM
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The bike tours look like fun, lovely looking area.

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03-21-22 08:35PM
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I found an interesting video from a match between Fujisawa and Yoshimura from 2021 Japanese Curling Championship final. It involves broom clash behind tee line and a burned stone that was kicked off.

I'm not sure what happened here, but this video has almost a million views. There's some suggestion that this was highly controversial topic in Japanese curling fandom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnNUzkPFJ0o

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03-21-22 09:03PM
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quote:
Originally posted by curlingclips
I found an interesting video from a match between Fujisawa and Yoshimura from 2021 Japanese Curling Championship final. It involves broom clash behind tee line and a burned stone that was kicked off.

The broom clash happened after the sweeper Omiya inadvertantly touched the stone while it was in motion.

The main announcer assumed the issue was with the brush clash, but the commentator explains what actually happened at the 3:21 mark. ("sono mae ni atatteimasu")

A lot of people (even the poster of the video) remain confused thinking that Fujisawa deliberately stuck her brush out to cause a violation requiring the stone to be burned (which I don't think is the rule for a brush clash anyway), but it was actually a case of the sweeper touching the stone in motion, and Fujisawa was well within her rights to point that out and have the stone taken out of play.

Anyway, Hokkaido Bank went on to win Nationals, so perhaps karma won out in the end.

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03-21-22 09:30PM
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quote:
Originally posted by hailstone
the sweeper Omiya inadvertantly touched the stone while it was in motion

Can you help point out when/where this happened?

I can see that Ohmiya made a gesture at Fujisawa by swinging her left foot just before pulling the stone off, so I assume Ohmiya touched it with her left foot at some point?

Also, I presume that it was an umpire that got involved in the situation for some reason. If so, why? I agree that if Ohmiya touched the stone, then Fujisawa can ask to have it removed, and while I haven't seen the touch itself, it looks like Ohmiya admitted to it and had no qualm pulling the stone off. So why was an umpire needed if it the situation was that simple?

Last edited by curlingclips on 03-21-22 at 09:33PM

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03-21-22 10:19PM
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Can't figure it out from that. Maybe when I have some time I'll try and find a news report of the event that addresses this.

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03-25-22 08:35AM
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Over 3500 people currently watching a live stream with the Yoshidas and Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi just shooting the breeze about curling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w9F-wbGidw

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04-05-22 03:17PM
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Did Loco Solare (Satsuki Fujisawa) engage Consadole (Yuta Matsumura) in a series of TV exhibition matches recently (2020-ish), or am I imagining something that never actually happened?

If it did happen, what was the result?

A more general and possibly hypothetical question is: in a series of best of X matches between the Japanese national women's champions vs the men's, who would win most of the time?

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04-08-22 05:56PM
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quote:
Originally posted by curlingclips
Did Loco Solare (Satsuki Fujisawa) engage Consadole (Yuta Matsumura) in a series of TV exhibition matches recently (2020-ish), or am I imagining something that never actually happened?

If it did happen, what was the result?


The 2020 Men's and Women's national champions had an exhibition skins match the night after they won their titles (apparently they've done this a few times for fun during practices, but this was the only one ever televised) Loco Solare destroyed them, losing only the last end on a missed shot by Fujisawa. But it was just an exhibition, so not sure what we can take from that.

In other news, the power of Team Fujisawa is giving Japan live coverage of The Players Championship for the first time ever!

https://www.tv-asahi.co.jp/ch/sphone/sports/0547/

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