Asia League Ice Hockey is the top professional hockey league in Japan and South Korea, and also includes China's one professional team.
The eight teams each play a schedule of 42 games from September to March, after which the top four move on to the playoffs, with best-of-five semifinals and finals. The Japanese clubs take time out in February for the All Japan Ice Hockey Championship, which has been going on since 1930. The Korea Domestic Championship dates back to 1955.
The teams are:
Oji Eagles. Founded in 1925 as the company team of Oji Paper, the Eagles play at Hakucho Arena (capacity 4,015) in Tomakomai, on the southern coast of Hokkaido. They have won the Asia League championship twice, its forerunner the Japan League championship 13 times, and the anyone-can-enter All Japan Championship 35 times including last year. They wear blue, white, yellow and black. The squad includes Canadians Aaron Keller, Mike Kompon and T.J. Kemp.
Nippon Paper Cranes. Oji Eagles' rival on the ice and in the boardroom, Nippon Paper Cranes are owned by the Nippon Paper Group, and play at Kushiro Ice Arena (capacity 3,000) in Kushiro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido. They began in 1949, have won the Asia League three times and the All Japan Championship five. Black, red, blue and white. Canadian: Eric Regan. The club name puts you in mind of the art of origami.
Anyang Halla. Founded in 1994, they won the Korean Ice Hockey League five times, and then after 2003 the Asia League once plus one co-win. They play at the Anyang Sports Complex Arena attached to Anyang Stadium. Blue, yellow and white. Canadians: Brock Radunske, Dustin Wood. Anyang is a city of about two-thirds of a million on the southern outskirts of Seoul.
High1. Founded in 2004, High1 joined the Asia League the next year. They are based in Goyang, South Korea, on the north side of Seoul. Black and red. Canadians: Bryan Young who has played 17 games for Edmonton, David Brine who played 9 games for the Florida Panthers and later played for Medveščak Zagreb, and Michael Swift.
China Dragon. This club is an amalgamation of two venerable Chinese powerhouses, Harbin and Qiqihar, both founded in 1954 and neither based anywhere near Shanghai. The team roster closely matches that of the Chinese Olympic team. Colours: red and yellow. No Canadians.
Tohoku Free Blades. Founded 2008. Their home address is Niida Indoor Rink (capacity 1,576) in Hachinohe, Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on the island of Honshu. Blue, gray and white. They have won the championship once, and were declared co-winners the year of the tsunami. Canadians: Darrell Hay, Brad Farynuk and Ned Lukacevic.
Daemyung Sangmu. New this year. This is the hockey team of the South Korean military and is tasked with training the South Korean national team for the 2018 Olympics. They play at the Mokdong Ice Rink in Seoul. Black, yellow and red. No Canadians.
The league had a team in Khabarovsk, in the Far East of Russia, for one season. The KHL has since moved into that town and Vladivostok.
People also tell me, "We had no writing in this country and therefore had to use Chinese characters. From this one fact you can know everything about the relative importance of our countries." I answer, "I need not recite again how troublesome, evil, turbulent a country China is. To mention just one instance -- there is the matter of their picture-writing. There are about 38,000 characters in common use, as someone has determined. . . . Every place name and plant name has a separate character for it which has no other use but to designate that particular place or plant. Can any man, even one who devotes himself to the task earnestly, learn all that many characters? Sometimes people miswrite characters, sometimes the characters themselves change from one generation to the next. What a nuisance, a waste of effort, and a bother! In India, on the other hand, fifty letters suffice for the writing of the more than 5,000 volumes of the Buddhist scriptures. A knowledge of a mere fifty letters permits one to know and transmit innumerable words of past and present alike. This is not simply a matter of writing -- the fifty sounds are the sounds of Heaven and earth, and words conceived from them are naturally different from the Chinese characters. Whatever kind of writing we may originally have had, ever since Chinese writing was introduced we have mistakenly become enmeshed in it. Now only the old words, but not their writing are preserved. These words are not identical with the fifty Indian sounds . . . but the fifty sounds suffice to express all words without the nuisance of characters. In Holland, I understand, they use twenty-five letters. In this country there should be fifty. The appearance of letters used in all countries is in general the same, except for China where they invented their bothersome system. . . . The opinion that the characters are precious is not worth discussing further."
From A Study in the Idea of the Nation (1765), in Tsunoda, de Bary and Keene, Sources of the Japanese Tradition, Volume II, pages 13-14.
One of the heroes of typography is Xu Bing who in 1988 produced "A Book From the Sky" made up entirely of Chinese characters he invented himself, to the consternation of the Chinese authorities, who have a vested interest in controlling words and meanings. He often uses letters of the Latin alphabet as radicals within characters. Here is his name:
Chin Tsi-Ang was the first female martial arts film star. When she appeared in The Swordswoman of Huangjiang (1930), the first of a thirteen-part series, she had already been in the biz for five years. She worked right into the new millenium, and had a role in In the Mood For Love (2000) at age 90.
The deeper you look into it, the more you realize that the Chinese invented everything, including the bobblehead doll. These two, dating from the early nineteenth-century, came up for auction January 23rd.
Synopsis: we are searching the world for soccer teams that dress like the Beano's Dennis the Menace. Three have been found so far: FC Midtjylland in Denmark, NK Čelik Zenica in Bosnia, and plucky Whitletts Victoria FC of Ayr. Today, the East Asian Football Federation.
China. Not many stripes or hoops at all. Shenzhen Ruby FC wear blue and white.
Hong Kong. The British connection has left Hong Kong with an active football scene, but no team that presents a Menacing aspect. Honk Kong FC was founded in 1886 and is obviously dripping with money.
Macao. Hoi Fan wear a red jersey and black shorts and socks.
Mongolia. Argh. There's very little information on the Mongolian Premier League on the internet.
North Korea. Imagine trying to follow your favourite North Korean team online.
South Korea. FC Seoul wear red socks, black shorts, and a red and black striped jersey. But there are gold squiggles all over the design. Gyeongnam FC have black socks and shorts and a red jersey with black details. They are nicknamed The Kindergarten.
Dennis the Menace Group! Yes!
Steelers are a pretty successful club too. They've won the South Korean championship four times, the KFA Cup twice and the league cup twice. Excellent.
Japan. Consadole Sapporo: red socks, black shorts, red and black striped jersey. Many Japanese clubs go out of their way to try to give themselves a European ambience by incorporating Spanish, French, English, German or Italian words into their nomenclature. Yet somehow none of those hybrid names seems as outlandish as Real Salt Lake. Arte Takasaki wear red socks, black shorts, red jersey. Ditto Zweigen Kanazawa.
I've had it in my mind to read the Four or Five Chinese Classics for a while now, so I was happy to find a second-hand copy of Chin P'ing Mei just before embarking on a 24-hour train ride last month. With its rapidly unfolding plot and its 863 pages, it's the right book for a long journey by rail.
Chin P'ing Mei, or as it's transliterated these days, Jin Ping Mei, is commonly known in English as either The Golden Lotus or The Plum in the Golden Vase. The book I was reading is the 1982 Perigree reprint of Bernard Miall's 1939 English translation of Franz Kuhn's earlier German translation -- clearly not the go-to edition for scholarly analysis, but one with an elevated and somewhat vintage prose style that has aged gracefully in 72 years and works well with the historical content.
The novel was written in the 17th century, late in the Ming Dynasty, but the action takes place in the last years of the Northern Song Dynasty five centuries before. Authorship is attributed to a Hsaio-hsiao-sheng, but there is no agreement on who that is, and the legend that the novel was written in a few weeks to exact revenge for a debt of honour sounds more like something from the book than something about it.
The story concerns the dalliances of Hsi Men, a wealthy individual with a large household and, at his high point, six wives; and Golden Lotus, who eventual becomes his fifth wife. Both are sexual addicts, and both are utterly amoral in the pursuit of their conquests. The pair manage to destroy quite a lot of people along the way, either directly or through their expanding circles of influence. It takes about 200 pages for the effects of their liaisons to play out after they themselves have met their untimely ends.
There's a tremendous amount of sex in this book, but it's presented in such allusive and poetic language that it's difficult to assign it an X or even an R rating. It is hard to find much raunch in a phrase like "she was well acquainted with the ways of the wind and the moon," though "they cavorted like two fish in a stream" certainly gets the idea across.
The ferocious Wu Sung, who shows up near the beginning and the end of the novel to mete out justice, is a character from Water Margin, another of the classics, which I hope to read soon. D
Satoshi Kon's 2006 anime Paprika is Inception four years before Inception, plus a lot of film history (The Collector provides an important scene) plus a huge trundling mountain of Asian and Western cultural reference. Here is Paprika cloud-hopping over Tokyo in the guise of Monkey.