More Japan loves Cute!

4 07 2007

Ai IijimaJapan’s obsession with all things ‘Kawaii’ has not lessened at all over the last few weeks, that’s for sure. ’90s Japanese adult-movie star Ai Iijima (now a mainstream celebrity) is in the news for having ‘found true love’… new ‘idols’ (cute celebrities) seem to spring up almost daily, and the sports-world is no different…

The Shy Prince on Tuesday at Nagoya’s Aichi Country ClubSo just a quick update on one of Japan’s favorite idols at the moment, the 15 year old Ryo Ishikawa – nicknamed “hanikami oji” (bashful prince) who is in Nagoya to play in the Japan Amateur Championships, which started Tuesday. Normally a fairly quiet affair, the Aichi country club has had to triple the amount of security it normally employs for the event. A course official stated that normally they only have to do this for pro-events, and even then, only when a really famous golfer is playing.

Ishikawa is expected to have a following of perhaps 4,000 fans, but his aims are being kept realistic: “I want to aim at finishing first if I can get through the elimination rounds,” Ishikawa said.

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[source: Mainichi Shimbun]





“KAWAAIIII!!!”… or Japan Loves Cute… part 2

21 06 2007

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As discussed yesterday, Japan loves cute. When walking outside with my baby boy, the most oft thing I hear is “KAWAAIIII!!!” (‘kawaii’ = cute)… and that’s an exclamation that’s oh-so-often used in Japan…

A small furry animal – “KAWAAIIII!!!”

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Anything small – “KAWAAIIII!!!”

Animated characters – “KAWAAIIII!!!”

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Anything related to Disney – “KAWAAIIII!!!”

Riyo Mori – … … … “KAWAAIIII!!!”

If you’re a female, you have to say it with in a very, very high-pitched voice, attempting to sound like an anime character yourself (and thus, “KAWAAIIII!!!”). If you’re a male, you don’t say it…

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And so, with a ball-peen-hammer-to-the-knees segue, let’s look at the second part of ‘Japan Loves Cute…’ and it’s subject matter, Ryo Ishikawa.

Last month, teen phenom Ryo Ishikawa won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, becoming the youngest ever player to win a Japanese Pro Tour event, and the first amateur to win in more than 25 years. His first tour appearance, Ishikawa, 15 years old, shot a 6 under 66 to win by one stroke. His baby-face & bashful demeanor earned him the sobriquet “The Shy Prince”.

He followed this up with an 8th place in the prestigious Kanto Amateur Championships, and that will grant him an invitation to the Japan National Amateur Championships to be held in early July at the Aichi Country Club.

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Video of Ishikawa & Saito…

During the Kanto event, the Shy Prince gathered in excess of 3000 fans (many of whom were young girls!) who followed him dutifully around the links. Such is the first-year-high school student’s popularity, that the Japanese TV station TBS tried to get one of his playing partners to wear a hidden microphone… which was eventually foiled by the officials.

Yuki Saito and Ryo Ishikawa… two of the most popular sports icons in Japan today. Both with very unfortunate nicknames. But as I said, Japan loves ‘cute’…

I’ll keep you posted with updates on the Handkerchief Prince, and the Shy Prince!


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