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Sporting gesture

62 Comments

Members of the Japanese women's ice hockey team bow to spectators after their 3-2 loss to Germany at Shayba Arena, Sochi, on Tuesday night.

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I bet Japan is the only team in the Olympics to do this. The women's soccer team does it too. Great sportsmanship.

12 ( +19 / -7 )

Much respect ladies.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Japan is the only country that I have seen do this. Do you think China or Korea would bow to the spectators? Not!

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

Japan's the only team with that custom. I think there are only 8 teams. US and Can playing for the gold, Switzerland and Sweden playing for the bronze, Finland 5th, Russia 6th, Germany 7th and Japan 8th. China and Korea did qualify. Men? Neither the Japan nor Korean men qualified. The Japanese women did well to for representing Japan at the Olympics.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan did an excellent job playing against some top level women's hockey teams this olympics. I am Canadian but my wife and children are Japanese . My children play hockey here in Okinawa Japan. My thanks to the Japanese women's team for trying and doing so well. Hopefully this will make more people aware of ice hockey in Japan. Smile Japan I return your bow thanks for a job well done.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Otsukaresama, Team Japan !

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japan is the only country that I have seen do this. Do you think China or Korea would bow to the spectators? Not!

It's a pity you felt it necessary to twist the exemplary Japanese sportsmanship into an opportunity to bash other countries..

Kudos to team Japan. Much respect.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Well done.

Not related but this photo reminds me of a standing bow with naginata. I guess the fighting spirit these young women displayed could be comparable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

many hockey players of all nations, both men and women, will raise their sticks in the air at the end of a game to salute the crowd.

this happens more often when they win than lose but the sentiment is the same.

the Japanese women's team still has a long way to go to compete with the Americans and Canadians but just being able to be in Sochi to participate is a grand accomplishment for a group that had to work part time jobs and pay their own way to qualify.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It seems I have a different take on this sad photo. They are bowing in shame, because they didn't win the game, and won't win a medal. They played well, and have nothing to be ashamed of. (Look at #23. Is this a positive image?) To express gratitude to the spectators, they can wave and smile, a positive thing for all. Also, when they return to Japan they will will be treated as failures for not getting a medal. I find the Japanese culture of shaming/bowing in shame to be disgusting, just part of the endless bullying/humiliation that goes on at all levels in Japan. Perhaps I am wrong, but to me this is not a positive gesture.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Also, when they return to Japan they will will be treated as failures for not getting a medal.

Kokuzi they will be considered heros to so many girls and boys I think your comment is so wrong and wonder if you really understand the Japanese.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Why would other teams bow when they don't have that custom? I find this disturbing. How many Japanese at the Olympics have apologized for not winning? I think this shaming says more about Japan and the lack of support for these ladies than anything. They build them up and then rip them down when they don't perform. It's really sad to see.

With Kokuzi and syzyguy on this. They did well. They should be holding their heads up and be proud of getting to where they did.

-15 ( +7 / -22 )

Kokuzi, tmarie

I'm surprised that you can't see this for what it is - a wonderful and humbling sporting gesture. There is nothing disturbing or shameful about it. I would say it is an expression of joy for having participated in the Olympics. Many women's sporting teams from Japan do this. It is something to be admired and respected.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Anyone who has played rec hockey in Japan will know that you bow to each team, and their bench at the end of the game. So, bowing to spectators is not surprising. You'd probably have to do it in rec hockey if anyone came to watch, which they don't.

Japan played okay. Their forwards were awful, defence okay, and their goalie was great.

More fun to watch than the Japanese "mens" team, who are awful and annoying.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

I would say it is an expression of joy for having participated in the Olympics. Many women's sporting teams from Japan do this. It is something to be admired and respected.

I disagree. I would rather a smile, a wave and a head nod to show thank you. The group bowing is just depressing. IMO. Heads up. These ladies did well considering hockey in a new sport here, more so for women.

-15 ( +3 / -18 )

why not split the difference and say that this gesture is humbleness, pride, shame and joy all rolled into one? for anyone who has observed Japanese culture for any amount of time it's apparent that vagueness rules supreme. is it necessary to put the world into black and white when paradoxes exist everywhere?

though there may be a harsh reception for the non-medalling athletes, they are (mostly) adults and probably possess a much stronger will than you or i... after all they are in the Olympics.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Read the title people SPORTING GESTURE.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Although this is not a "shame bow", it is probably one of great regret. This is the highest respect bow, Saikeirei 最敬礼, 45 degrees: Say you screw up, big time and you need to apologize, or perhaps you’re bowing to the emperor. This is the bow you should use, because it shows the most amount of respect (or regret) possible. They would have bowed a bit less, say 25 to 30 degrees, if they were humbling themselves to the sporting crowd.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is why I like Japan in general, still a lot of emphasis on respect and politeness.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I think it is time for the ladies' hockey teams to return to the hotel rooms for pillow fight time and see who are the true athletes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

when they return to Japan they will will be treated as failures for not getting a medal

Maybe by a few angry netizens. But angry netizens' opinions are the most worthless of all opinions, and not even worth acknowledging. They will be treated with respect by the rest of the country.

As for the meaning of the bow, when they bow to the audience it is saying 'thank you for watching and cheering for us'. As anyone who knows anything about Japan and sports knows, and not just speculating based on a photo without the actual knowledge to understand it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

As a Japan resident for many decades I tend to agree Chuck. Above all, the team members are very conscious of their supporters in the stands, mainly club associates and family who have travelled all the way to Sochi to support them. They are basically expressing regret (not shame) at losing, and showing appreciation for the enthusiastic support and Japanese flag waving.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's perfectly normal for the Japanese to Bow in gratitude. As this team didn't reach their goal of winning a game in the Olympics, they may have added a fair amount of regret and sorrow, but still, gratitude for all supporters and fans are always in their hearts.

Anyway, although they didn't win, they played really well for a country that doesn't have much support for the sport.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Nice gesture, humble and dignifying at the same time. But I expect bowing only from Asian teams. European and American teams have the less dramatic, and more cheerful, gesture of waving the hands.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

we generally shake hands with the opposing team, some light conversation, and a laugh

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is waving and smiling Japanese custom now? BTW, When you have Naginata, you don't bow. You stands with holding Naginata and glare at opponent. Just tradition of female protecting herselef with naginata. They look like they are bowing to express they finished their game. Game o oyemashita. I like to tell them otsukare sama deshita. or Gokuro sama deshita.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japan's not the only country. Look at the Taiwanese baseball team :

http://mykafkaesquelife.blogspot.jp/2013/03/japan-taiwan-connect-through-baseball.html

4 ( +7 / -3 )

"Also, when they return to Japan they will will be treated as failures for not getting a medal. " @Eric. I fear you may be right on some level and I can only speak for the citizens of Tomakomai where I live and teach (Chiho Ozawa is one of my students) but the city is already planning a victory celebration for simply making the Olympics and representing Japan honorably.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Forget the bowing for a sec folks.

I watched a couple of their games & the J-ladies played VERY well, lot of their games were decided only by one goal difference. Admittedly they did have the same trouble as mens soccer & that is scoring, BUT overall I was quite impressed with their passing & puck handling skills & they did create lots of scoring chances from what I saw!

They did very well imo!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@samwatters failures was not my comment. In my eyes and my childrens they are heros. Glad to hear there is something being done for these heros.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

As a long-term resident of Japan and a hockey player and referee, I can say that hockey teams at the lower levels in Japan bow to their own cheering section, the opponents' cheering section/coaches and the officials after the game, win or lose. At the professional level, they will always bow to the fans, win or lose. To read that the women are bowing in shame is ridiculous-it is done after every single game in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This bow is humility, regret and respect, and they need to teach the German team a thing or two by a pillow fight back in the hotel rooms.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

splks:

Japan is the only country that I have seen do this. Do you think China or Korea would bow to the spectators? Not!

Yeah, look at the Germans just standing there, acting all happy and not bowing. How rude!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

They are bowing because that is what they do. Very simple.

@ Eric,

They are not heros. Let`s not throw that word around for this.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Japan is the only country that I have seen do this. Do you think China or Korea would bow to the spectators? Not!

What's your point? That all Asian countries should have the same culture or something? Just because the Chinese and Koreans don't do it doesn't make them bad, and just because the Japanese do, doesn't make them good. It just makes them all diverse.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

As a Japanese sportsman, IMO, they would only show their greeting and say thanks for spectators, field, competitors, people who involved in this Olympic and helped them, ancestor, gods and also themselves.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@pointofview they are heros to my children. My children play hockey and hope to be olympians my daughters love this team and their country. Why would you want to spoil my childrens dreams and say that there own countrywomen are not heros. Dont you have a hero? And if yes who?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

It's basically the same as if you see actors bowing on the stage after a show. To show their gratitude to the spectators coming to see them play.

Now the west may not have this kind of attitude in sports but I believe it is ingrained in show biz.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's a misuse of the word hero, which diminishes the term when referring to actual heroes - someone who puts their own safety on the line in order to help/save others. If someone doesn't participate at the Olympics, no one dies.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@Strangerland

hero

a person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

'Rei ni hajimari, rei ni owari'. Everything begins and ends with Rei (courtesy).

Japan etiquette and sportsmanship, gotta love it.

it's Great that they got this far.

I now bow the these ladies who deserve the respect for coming this far without the proper funding like other sports. As I know it, Hockey isn't a very well funded sports in Japan, and these ladies are still consider amateur, they all have regular day jobs and play hockey on their free time, before their qualification, it wasn't even organized with a full sponsor. I hope things will get better for them.

I bow to you...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

a person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

Fair enough. I guess if you consider competing in a sport an outstanding achievement then hero is applicable.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Strangerland Thank you.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@ Eric Lyle Carlsen Schmid Women's hockey in Japan is getting better and it is improving outside of the northern areas. The Tokyo girls' team (Jr. high school and high school combined) finished second at the national championships in Nikko at the end of the year. Hope the improvement continues all the way to Okinawa.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow - this is a really bizarre discussion. I think it's a pretty simple thing: a) In Japan, athletes traditionally bow to the audience after a game - wins and losses - so of course the national team would bow at the Olympics. b) How is ANYONE here trying to assume the motivation of an entire TEAM of people? Some are likely feeling proud of their accomplishments, some are likely feeling depressed about their failures, and others are likely feeling grateful and respectful to the audience/opponents/Olympic organization. Everyone's got something different going through their minds, and they're all performing their usual ritual after a game. What's so difficult about this one?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The girls did okay, much better than I expected them to do as Japan is not a traditionally ice hockey country. The bow is traditionally a Japanese gesture so it is fitting for the girls do this (remember there are Japanese fans in the stands). The common practice in ice hockey to applaud the opposing team and fans is the "stick tap", tapping your stick on the ice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One esteemed British academia explained that the origin of the bow in Japan was supplication to expose the genitals from the rear. That seems pretty farfetched to me,,,

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I some how compare this gesture to what we in the West give to the Jamaican Bobsled team, and I apologize if I offend any one. To me the spirit of ANY competitor, especially those that are not powered by Coca Cola or Gatorade or Mars Bars sponsor ships, are to be admired and not taken lightly these people will go far in life!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Toshiko

BTW, When you have Naginata, you don't bow.

Tendoryu has a standing bow. Here's a video - watch long enough and you will see it. (Not our dojo but essentially the same etiquette) Kazari is not done standing up though if that's what you mean. Or are you talking about Atarashii Naginata?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjc-pL_77e8

Unlike the photo, the naginata is on the right side though.

Just tradition of female protecting herselef with naginata.

Please don't forget naginata was used by men (and women) in battle before the incorrect association of naginata being a woman's weapon became "normal". (including Ashigaru, Sohei etc).

Benkei was famous for his skill with Naginata.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benkei

You can see quite a few men using them in this Ukiyoe too.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/The_Siege_of_Osaka_Castle.jpg

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@eric,

Its great that your kids admire them because they like hockey. But they are not heros. They played a few games of hockey. Spoiling your kids dreams? bit of a stretch. A hero for me could never be someone who I just see on TV it would have to be someone I know. They gave it a shot and they bowed in the end. Very sweet.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@ pointofview I really wonder if you have a hero and know the definition of hero. Here it is just for you.

noun

a person, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Kokuzi -

They are bowing in shame, because they didn't win the game, and won't win a medal

No, they are not bowing in shame. This is to show appreciation for the support they have received from their friends, families and teammates and everyone who cheered for them. My kids play team sports and they bow like this at the end of a game whether they win or loose, and they also say thank you very much while bowing.

tmarie-

I would rather a smile, a wave and a head nod to show thank you

they smile and wave after they bow :) they show appreciation first, though.

How many Japanese at the Olympics have apologized for not winning?

this is when people take words literally and not understanding the meaning of words - when Japanese people "apologize", it often means thank you. You know how Japanese people say sumimasen or gomen nasai when westerners normally say thank you? those who "apologized" for not winning are really saying that they appreciate for the opportunity and the support they have received for this even though the result wasn't the best.

It might be difficult for people who are from countries where bowing isn't in their culture, but this is one way that sports players show respect for the supporters and appreciation :) there is nothing negative in this picture.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good on them for having a go - maybe they will inspire thousands of young kids in Japan now to take up ice-hockey, and Japan will be a powerhouse of the game in 20-30 years?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Do you think Korea or China would bow to spectators?"

Ho w sad, and telling, that you turn a thread on 'sportsmanship' into a hateful rant.

Anyway, they bowed, as they oft do in sports. Doesn't make anyone better than anyone else. The only people I see making a deal of it are foreign posters; it's par for the course here to bow. Hope after they bowed they could lift their heads with pride; while not winning, they still did their nation proud -- including the maniacial fans demanding losers pay back tax money.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

those who "apologized" for not winning are really saying that they appreciate for the opportunity and the support they have received for this even though the result wasn't the best.

Disagree. When the conversation goes to how they didn't win a medal and could've done better, I don't think that is saying thank you. It is saying that are sorry that they didn't bring home a medal. The media is known for turning of these folks - poor Sara was getting "why didn't she win?" titles and Mao was getting "She cost Japan a medal" in the team skating. The pressure these folks are under is horrible and very unfair. Getting to the level they are at in itself is a cause of celebration. Suggestion they are stealing taxes is not cool - but yet, more than a few have made such disgusting comments.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I love the underdog and the Japanese Women's Hockey team is about as under a team can get. I loved their fight and scrappy play.

I just hated their nickname, Smile Japan. I mean, at least sound like you're trying to put fear into your opponent, and not happy to just be invited.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@reformbasher: But these players are not men. Or are you have any info they had surgery to become men? In my area, we had to take naginata lessons. Have you taken naginata lessons in female middle school? We had old old kunoichi ladies as PE assistants.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I still stand by what I said earlier in the thread, but I agree with tmarie and others to an extent. I don't honestly believe these girls feel ashamed, but I DO think that at least, in part, the bow is an apology. As has been mentioned, just look at the crazy morons here who say things like "waste of tax money!" or, "She cost us gold" (again, as tmarie pointed out). It is definitely part of the culture and good sportsmanship to bow as they did here, but one cannot deny that THIS was the shot of the women's hockey team shown -- in the face of not winning -- and it will likely mollify some of the fans here.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

olympic expenditures are paid by the fund accumlated by past income from advertisements and donations. Ads in TV, etc are huge. Donations from Japan Inc and wealthy people are also huge). If tax money is used (unlikely), huge business tax paid corporations would be the first one to complain but so far no corporation complained. They just supported Olympic events Japan take. Of cause they know their ads are effective to increase their product sales. So, someone who does not know about how Olympic is funded write "waste of tax money!" or, "She cost us gold"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

poor Sara was getting "why didn't she win?" titles and Mao was getting "She cost Japan a medal" in the team skating. The pressure these folks are under is horrible and very unfair. Getting to the level they are at in itself is a cause of celebration.

I 100% agree that to get to the level they are at in itself IS a cause of celebration, I fully agree with that :)

And I do not know anyone around me who says or would say things like "why didn't they win a medal"?

just look at the crazy morons here who say things like "waste of tax money!"

I don't think those who are saying "waste of tax money" are Japanese people on this thread.

Bottom line is - that I think these women would have bowed like this even if they won a medal. This is a custom to bow after a game to show respect and appreciation - whether they win or lose. It is not because they feel ashamed. They probably would have smiled more if they won a medal, though :) I just want to to tell them GOOD JOB!!!! :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

RweformBasher wrote''@Toshiko

BTW, When you have Naginata, you don't bow.

Tendoryu has a standing bow. Here's a video - watch long enough and you will see it. (Not our dojo but essentially the same etiquette) Kazari is not done standing up though if that's what you mean. Or are you talking about Atarashii Naginata?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjc-pL_77e8

Unlike the photo, the naginata is on the right side though.

Just tradition of female protecting herselef with naginata.

Please don't forget naginata was used by men (and women) in battle before the incorrect association of naginata being a woman's weapon became "normal". (including Ashigaru, Sohei etc).

Benkei was famous for his skill with Naginata.

......................................................................................

These are female athlets., Not males/ I was writing about female tradition.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Toshiko

I'm having some trouble understanding your comment but I mean no disrespect for the brave women who learned naginata to defend their homes etc. I also have a lot of respect for the budoka who practice today, both koryu and atarashii naginata, regardless of their gender. I mean that sincerely.

If you are a budoka, I respect you too and consider you a sister in budo, no matter what your school may be. m(^)m

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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