The Japan Ice Hockey League, or J-Ice, is the second tier of hockey competition in Japan, below the multinational professional Asia League in which four Japanese clubs compete, and is about on a par with the university leagues. It's made up of six regional divisions: North, Northwest, East, Central, West, and South. The North and West divisions were established in 2005, the others in this decade.
J-ICE North Division is the strongest of the six divisions. There are six teams in five Hokkaido cities:
Kushiro Kousei-sya IHC. They play at Nippon Paper Ice Arena, capacity 3,000, which is also the home rink for Kushiro Tobu Blaze, and the Asia League's Nippon Paper Cranes. They wear red, black and white. Team owner Kushiro Kousei-sya is a waste management company. Kushiro is on Hokkaido's east coast, not far from Obihiro.
Tadano IHC. Founded in 1992, they are the company team for Tadano Corporation, manufacturers of industrial cranes. Their home rink, Obihiro no Mori Ice Arena in Obihiro, in eastern Hokkaido, can accommodate 2,500 spectators. Blue, white and black.
Skate House Sapporo IHC. They play at Sapporo's Tsukisamu Gymnasium, a facility built for the 1972 Olympics, which includes a rink with room for 3,371 spectators. Black, gray, white and blue.
Nippon Steel Sumikin Muroran. Muroran is a city in southern Hokkaido, and the location of the Japan Steel Works. Blue uniform. Their home rink is Muroran City Nakajima Sports Center.
Kushiro Tobu Blaze. Yellow and red. Nippon Paper Ice Arena.
Toyota Motor Hokkaido. Blue, gold and white. Their home rink is Tomakomai Shiratori Oyuko Ice Arena. The Asia League's Oji Eagles are also from Tomakomai, in southern Hokkaido.
This beverage commercial pulls out the trope of the-only-passenger-left-at-the-out-of-the-way-train-station-is-a-high-school-girl, first seen here. Miharashidai station really is out of the way, on a branch line connecting Takamori to Kunamoto in central Kyushu where, I guess, they also have winter. The combination of high school girl and endangered branch line evokes a sense of the ephemeral quality of things, and can be used to sell bottled tea. Watch.
My complaint: if the Annapolis Valley were in Japan I'm pretty certain there would have been a morning train from Kingston Station to West Kings DHS when I was going to high school. The tracks ran right past my door and the school.
Do you think you know Pitagora Suichi? How about Shadow Pitagora Suichi, or Underwater Pitagora Suichi. How about Single Drop of Water Pitagora Suichi. [Dead link! This link has Shadow Pitagora Suichi, but not Underwater Pitagora Suichi.]
Shimbun Akihata is the Japanese Communist Party's daily newspaper. Even if you don't read Japanese you can tell it's a Communist Party publication because it's so text-heavy. And you can tell it's Japanese because it's so cute!
Japan has had an annual ice hockey championship since 1930. Today the 84th edition starts in Nagano with eight teams facing off: the four Japanese teams of the Asia League; three university teams*; and the President's Cup** winner.
Game No. 1, Chuo University [1 - 2] Nikkō IceBucks
Game No. 2, Nippon Paper Cranes [9 - 1] Kansai University Kaisers. [Highlights.]
Game No. 4, Tohoku Free Blades [7 - 4] Meiji University
[Congratulations to Chuo University for not losing so badly.]
Game No. 5, [Cranes 3 - 4 IceBucks]
Game No. 6, [Free Blades 4 - 6 Eagles]
Third-place game (Sunday):
Game No. 7, Cranes [1 - 4] Free Blades
Game No. 8, IceBucks [2 - 3] Eagles
[Oji Eagles are Japanese champions.]
*The top team from the Kansai league, and the top two from the Kanto league. The current members of the top division of the Kanto league are Chuo U, Hosei U (The Orange Seals), Meiji U, Nihon U, Toyo U, and Waseda U.
**President's Cup competition began in 2013, and is a championship for Japanese hockey clubs that are not part of the Asia League. To date the winners have been: (2013) Team Hasegawa, (2014) Toyota Motor Hokkaido Centuries, (2015) Kushiro Kousei Company IHC, (2016) Kushiro Kousei Company IHC. Kushiro Kosie play in the J-Ice North Division.
Which do you prefer, spring or autumn? This annually occuring problem has tasked the Japanese for centuries, so it's not surprising that Japanese weather forecasters have developed maps to help the populace keep track of developments. Compare this crimson leaves map to the sakura maps of spring. Source (see the October 17, 2016 entry).