At last! Nine days off with nothing to do except do a bit of cleaning and get my stuff together for the new year. Expect lots of movie watching and relaxing… nice.

Japan, being what it is, is quite a sentimental country in the most unexpected ways sometimes. The extraordinary popularity of a sport like Figure Skating is incredible. For example, the recent Japan National Figure Skating Championships – which were broadcast on primetime TV here – garnered a ratings figure of 33.7%! That really means that one third of all TVs in Japan were tuned to a single show – about 45 million people! So a wide range of people must be watching it too, not the niche markets that figure skating would reach in Australia. A brief sweep of the sports pages in the (English speaking) Japanese media reveals that skating is certainly the most popular sport of the moment – not to mention that lots of pictures of the skaters are being posted.

Why? Well there is the fact that figure skating represents one of Japan’s best hopes for a medal at the upcoming Olympics in Italy. You also have to consider the country’s obsessions with beauty and ‘kawaii’ – the cute factor. These little girls (and one fella) are certainly not hard to look at, and they don’t wear a lot on the ice, so a nation of young girls and women, not to mention the older women and quite likely the pervs will all be locked in watching the fortunes of these skaters next year. A lot has been written about Japan’s obsessions with beauty and ‘cute’ and I’ll certainly be doing my thing, since it’s everywhere, and one of the things that definitely defines Japan.

As for me? I don’t expect to be watching much of it unless there is absolutely nothing else on the telly! Personally, I’m hanging out for the playoffs!
But, as for the Winter Olympics… the luge gets my vote for watching. How anyone can hurtle themselves down an icy tube wearing next to nothing is beyond me… insane!