Thursday, July 28, 2011

お盆 Photo for Obon

It has been months since the devastating triple disaster struck the Japanese Main Island. During this time of Obon many celebrations honoring our ancestors and those who came before us take place. For residents of the Sendai Region in Japan there are no celebrations as in times past, instead there are only solemn belated memorials for 10,000 friends & family that were lost last March of 2011. We came across this photo and thought we would share it here. We feel it captures a moment with heartfelt emotion that words alone can not convey. This photo was taken in the town of Okuma deep inside the irradiated exclusion zone near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. And though people may have moved on elsewhere, in Japan people are still suffering. We thank those who have kept the victims of these disasters in their prayers and ask that you continue to do so. ありがとう

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

おかえりなさい なでしこ 日本!
Nadeshiko Japan and coach Norio Sasaki poses with Japan's 1st World Cup trophy during a press conference.
Tokyo, July 19, 2011.
おめでとうなでしこ 日本!
ばんざい! ばんざい! ばんざい!

Monday, July 18, 2011

なでしこジャパン 日本 Japan's Cinderella Win over the US in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup

In what could be described in one of Japan’s finest moments, the team that believed stunned the world as Nadeshiko Japan triumphed over the USWNT. In a nail biting dramatic finish reminiscent of the US defeat over Brazil, Japan came from behind and equalized the game to a 2-2 tie in overtime forcing a penalty shootout. Three missed penalty kicks on the underrated Ayumi Kahori by the US proved costly while Saki Kumagi hit her mark past an injured Hope Solo at the back of the net and sailed into history. Never has an Asian team won a World Cup until now and for Japan this well deserved victory could not have been better scripted by Hollywood. March 2011 seems like only yesterday when the world watched the horrifying images of the Tsunami devastating the Sendai region sweeping many homes and countless lives out to sea among them, relatives of the players of Nadeshiko Japan. The significance of what emotional and psychological impact on the members of Nadeshiko Japan can not be understated.

How does one recover from such tragedy to achieve such a feat to defeat the odds on favorite USWNT who had previously defeated them? It can be summed up by the Japanese will to fight on, to believe in oneself, and ultimately to prevail without ego. This is a team that last march found itself without a pitch to practice on reducing their training sessions to simply running. Such adversity is difficult to imagine particularly with the lack of support back home. Coach Norio Sasaki and the 32 year old Captain Homare Sawa soldiered on leading these humble beautiful flowers of Japan to fight for their devastated nation. They fought with great heart in their stunning victory over the USA bringing joy to a people who have experienced such indescribable tragedy. This is what Americans call a Cinderella Story for Japan. Americans love an underdog but at the same time we hate to lose. The Japanese played a tough game with grace and even with a red card there was no arguing or cheap theatrics. And though it is disappointing that our US Women’s National Team did not win the final, it is bittersweet to know that we lost to dear friends and the most gracious winners who needed this more. おめでとう なでしこジャパン日本. おめでとうございます!

Friday, July 15, 2011

アメリカと日本サッカー The Parallels of American Soccer & Japanese Football Leagues

As Japan and the United States head into an epic Women’s World Cup Final this Sunday it would be remiss to take note of the shared obstacles both nations face. Not by tactics, set pieces, or player rosters, but by a lack of respect within their own countries. And this is not limited to Women’s Football, this extends into to both nations Men’s national teams and their respective Football / Soccer leagues as well. In Europe, entire nations rally behind their national men’s teams and have hundred year old clubs with equally old football leagues that were created long before the US started calling it Football / Soccer. The USMNT could be in the World Cup Final and the news of the team would still be buried behind more “important” sports segments like the NFL lockout or player doping results in other sports. Sadly in Japan, the same problem exists. With Nadeshiko Japan’s historic run up to the 2011 FIFA World Cup Final you would think this would be front page news. Iie! Not there. And over here in the US? Not a chance. Perhaps if the USWNT wins they might make the evening news a day late after LA’s “Carmageddon” as what happened after the US win over France in the Semi Final. I would not be surprised if there are people in Europe that bear resentment as we did over FC Dallas triumph over the LA Galaxy in last year’s lead up to the MLS Cup on the grounds that the majority of Texas could give a rats ass unless it was the Dallas Cowboys making the news. Attitudes in both countries towards “Soccer” are less than deserving. Regardless of Mexico’s win in the Gold Cup scores of Americans wishing their own country defeat just to spite our brand of football is disgraceful if not outright unpatriotic not to mention disrespectful to the country that gives you the freedom to choose which team to support unlike Mexico. Equally disgusting during last year’s 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup scores of Japanese posts chided their own team all over the internet and Japanese press all purely out of a hate for a sport that is both growing in popularity and skill set among J-League players despite the lack of news coverage. ばか! Sound familiar? Until recently, you would have to wait for a sex scandal involving LA Galaxy’s David Beckham before you could get an MLS story in the news with the exception of Landon Donovan’s win over Algeria. Meanwhile over in Germany, the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup is front page news.

Both Japan’s J-League and the US’s own MLS were both created in the 1990’s and are both respectively new leagues in the European sense of the word who are making significant gains in both countries. Despite gaining a 182% gain in overall attendance in the face of a 60% drop in Baseball, NBA, and the NHL our MLS football is still meeting stiff resistance from the non-believers and the haters in this country. Similarly in Japan where Baseball is king the ranks of non-believers are firmly entrenched but with Japan’s recent gains in the FIFA rankings and the success of the nations J-League these proponents of anything but soccer are slowly being deafened by the monstrous chants out from the Nagoya Grampus stadium and by the cheers of their ever growing masses of supporters. There are some that say Soccer will never be popular here in the US. It’s likely those same doubters are unaware of the over 4 million people who attended MLS games during the 2010 season. And while the Women’s Professional Soccer League aka WPS plays on with only six teams on college “Throw ball” fields, it is the one women’s football league that female players ranging from Marta of Brazil to members of Nadeshiko Japan all come to the US to play in the highest paid women’s football league in the world. And despite the lack of fans or news coverage, this tiny league is thriving and slowly rebounding the way the MLS did in the early 2000’s. The MLS now boasts 18 teams with two expansion teams and another ten cities citing interest in future league expansion. Whereas the J-League has grown so large they are broken into two divisions with Div 1 boasting 18 teams and Div 2 boasting 20. Not to be lost to the American Women’s Professional Soccer League aka WPS, Japan has its own women’s league known as the L-League boasting 10 teams.

Football / Soccer is growing in both Japan and the United States but you wouldn’t know that from the spotty news coverage particularly for the women’s leagues of both countries. While their male counter parts both in Japan and the US dominate what little news coverage given, women in both countries play on and face the same uphill battle for respect that the men face. But this too will change. It really gets under my skin to hear some "men" call women’s football weak. The only thing weak is the failure to acknowledge and outright dismiss the football stars this country is producing and fear of our women’s teams successes. I really don’t care if  the player is a man or a woman playing. I’ll equally watch Kitsuke Honda, Homare Sawa, Lauren Cheney, or Landon Donovan play not because of their sex or which team they play for, it’s because they kick ass! To dismiss Football / Soccer in either country is to insert your head into a bucket of sand and to further dismiss the women’s game entirely is to stick your head in your ass and flush it down the wrong side of history. It has been Japan and the US’s shared destiny since Commodore Perry landed in Uraga Harbor in 1853 that these two nations shared an entwined history and run tandem karmic parallels. I believe in our Football aka Soccer will become a dominant sport in both countries within my very lifetime. And if there is any doubt to what a believer can dream, wait for the final whistle to blow this Sunday at the end of the Final in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Whether you love Homare Sawa or Hope Solo, this will be one match for the history of both countries. You will believe! わかります か?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

なでしこジャパン Japan Defeats Sweden and Makes it to the 2011 FIFA WWC FINAL!

Nadeshiko Japan defeated Sweden 3-1 in the Semi-Final in this years 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup! Japan has never come so far nor played with so much heart to clench their berth in their first appearance in a World Cup Final match. In this tournament we have seen  Nadeshiko Japan send las Gatas of Mexico home, shut down the German Jaggernaut, and sink the Swedish Viking Ship. This is a team who many have lost their homes and family members in the March combined disasters and they are playing for their home. Since March they have had no pitch at home to practice on. They could only run. They won because they played with heart. (Paying attention Bob Bradley?) They are good friends of our USWNT and will be a worthy oponent. The USA is the odds on favorite as the have played and have beaten them before. This will be an exciting match to see Sawa take on Abby Wambach. I love Japan and Nadeshiko Japan but the USA is my home and so I will wish Nadeshiko a well earned  がんばれ日本 and wish our USWNT all the success to bring home that third star that comes with a descisive win of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup! So I say to both teams Ganbatte Kudasai!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Soma Transfer Update

While all eyes are on Nadeshiko Japan's big match against Sweden in the FIFA 2011 Women's World Cup, another Japanese soccer story taking place in Germany all but nearly slipped under the radar. Earlier this year we wrote about the former Urawa Reds defender Takahito Soma's transfer announcement from the Bundesliga 2 Energie Cottbus to an undisclosed franchise in the MLS. This would make his the 2nd Issei player in the MLS alongside Kosuke Kimura of the Colorado Rapids As of this month it has now been confirmed on that this deal will not go through. Instead, Takahito Soma will return to the J-League to play for Vissel Kobe. This is understandable given Soma had requested to leave his German team for family reasons. Given our great enthusiasm for the potential move we are a little dissappointed but shigata na gai. Family is important and we more than understand this. We wish Soma-San well and hope that he one day considers another run to the United States to play in the MLS. We love J-League players here in the United States and hope we shall soon see more of them in the ever growing MLS.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

なでしこジャパン Japan Defeats Germany in the 2011 Women's World Cup!

In a stunning upset, Nadeshiko Japan knocked out the host nation Germany in this years 2011 Women's World Cup in a 1-0 victory. This came about in the 108th minute by Karina Maruyama delivering the knock out blow and Germany's first defeat in 16 matches. This has taken Nadeshiko Japan to the next level as Japan will now face the winner of the Semi-final between Sweden & Austrailia.  We at American Mishima like to offer Nadeshiko Japan a well deserved おめでとう ございます for their continued success! がんばれ 日本!
ばんざい! ばんざい! ばんざい!

Friday, July 1, 2011

なでしこジャパン Japan's Stunning Victory over Mexico in the 2011 Women's World Cup

Japan Women's National Football team "Nadeshiko" pulled a stunning victory over Mexico's "Las Gatas" in a crushing 4-0 score qualifying Japan for the 2011 FIFA World Cup Quarter Finals in Germany for the first time in 16 years. We at American Mishima would like to offer a special  おめでとう ございます to Captain Homare Sawa for her amazing three goal hat trick the first ever in this years 2011 FIFA World Cup. This was truly an exciting match to watch and we are very happy for Japan! We wish Nadeshiko Japan continued success and for the success of women's football in Japan. がんばれ 日本!
ばんざい! ばんざい! ばんざい!