A Peculiar Invitation for 2011 "All-Japan" Nationals
…hope this will be a funny Christmas All-Japan treat for ya!
全日本のお供になりますように。あたたかくたのしい読み物になれば幸いです。
by AIKO SHIMAZU 島津愛子
Dec. 23, 2011

☞ in Japanese


I wrote this last All-Japan 2010:
If we could have the judges of "So You Think You Can Dance", at the rinkside! …so they would melt the ice, by emotions, by poetic mouth, unlikely the judges of Figure Skating. - They keep silent, that makes conflict. I need their quotes to make sense of their ratings, named "Program Component Score". And you?
PCS almost fix the results. It has 5 components, so just 1.0 points gives a lot advantages, overall(SP+FS) 15.0(Men)/12.0(Ladies) points to the branded skaters. Those points allow them at least 3 mistakes of jump elements not to be defeated by the flawless underdogs.

Then I send you this Christmas: A Peculiar Invitation for 2011 "All-Japan" Nationals
I'm wrapping up some outtakes from Japan Skates Interviews or my own experiences @ the venues, and meeting with skaters and coaches. That doesn't make sense of "prediction", but you may sense how beautiful Japan's Figure Skating, and skaters, and their programs are. Hopefully you have sense of humor and tolerance, I'm in a comedic life so far(you'll see it on some interviews,) and in the second season of Figure Skating reporting.


+++ Ladies +++ ☞ Men

*sort by ISU World Standings (ascending order)

Chisako KIUCHI 木内千彩子  Japan Sports
SP"Sabre Dance" @ All-Japan

Chisako KIUCHI (Tokyo Regional 3rd, Western Section 7th [High School 3rd year])
Had been shocked to meet Lupin III(Takuya KONDOH) @ last All-Japan, again, was shocked to meet Chisako! in Oct. at Tokyo Regional. Both of them are students of Minoru SANO(a Men Single bronze medalist of 1977 Tokyo Worlds, 5 times National Champion in a row, former students including: Shizuka ARAKAWA, Yamato TAMURA.). …Was shocked to see her dance as same as I saw "No Scrubs" TLC music video for the first time. "Chisako, Roooocks!" screaming! …without sound of course, I had been inspired by her supreme dancing and so fast skating throughout her SP "Sabre Dance", a Vanessa Mae's Pop-Classical tune, which is the exceptional work from Nanami ABE(Yuzuru HANYU's coach). Without any frilled move, Nanami's choreography shows coolness through a slit in every single move, dramatically. Her choreography for boys are manly, for girls, even more handsome. Chisako, was dancing her choreography as if hip-hop dancers use their ribs to sharpen their moves, as if contemporary dancers fully stretch their arms and legs to magnify their forms. In the last superb quick SlSt, she used her neck to turn to leave her face …on every single turn! Her dancing was something else there. Although Chisako, (a synchronized skater as well,) she has only 3T and 3S as her triple jump in program content, I watched Chisako handsome-rotating her jumps so consistently, in her training along with Takuya and Minoru in June. hope she'll kill her jumps, and her killer dancing could be a Christmas present for you. *for Non-Japanese readers: I mean, her performance won't be broadcasted on TV, (and you couldn't meet her on YouTube,) unless she makes top 12 or so, as Japanese broadcast networks cover only top skaters. …Sorry I got so enthusiastic about Chisako when I got flashback of her dancing!


(( Nanami ABE : Yuzuru's coach / popular choreographer among Japanese skaters))
Backstage @ Cup of China, I tried to ask her to interview, as I did Yuka(SATO), but I couldn't… because of her grandeur! as if suddenly I was changed into stone by Medusa, although I'm so blue-sky minded to get attached with anyone…


Kanade HASEGAWA 長谷川奏  Japan Sports
SP"Armenian Rhapsody" @ All-Japan

Also @ Tokyo Regional, was shocked to meet 3T-3T from Kanade HASEGAWA (Tokyo Regional 1st, Western Section 4th [University 1st year]). With such a high-speed entry, her second 3T had such a height-and-distance, which I had never seen before! That made me "WoooooW!!!" screaming! …with sound, accidentally, then people who recognized her 3T-3T, claimed like "be quite, a stranger" turned around to the scream, so I incidentally turned around, too, but… no one was there, as I sat in the highest seat. Expect more screams at her very 1st All-Japan, from strangers to Kanade, that may crack the venue Namihaya Dome! She feels like the wind on the ice, with her skating speed.


Mutsumi TAKAYAMA 高山睦美  Japan Sports
FS"Amelie" @ All-Japan

And also, @ Tokyo Regional, was shocked to meet the arresting flight of Mutsumi TAKAYAMA (Tokyo Regional 2nd, Western Section 2nd [age 21])'s 3Lz. Even more arresting her lovely voice like jingled bells and its opposite talking way like the bravest of "Samurai", I was shocked to hear from her quotes on the audio file for Backstage @ Eastern page. She noted she would "test my abilities," @ All-Japan, hope she will be able to arrest there with her 3 edges: epic 3lz; silky voice, Samurai quotes. Especially FS"Amelie" is her favorite program, enjoy the opening act which she and her choreographer worked on a lot.
☞ "Mutsumi TAKAYAMA" on Wikipedia
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会


Haruna SUZUKI 鈴木春奈  Japan Sports
SP"Ole Guapa" @ All-Japan

Junior Ladies 14 aged Haruna SUZUKI (Eastern Jr. 2nd, All-Japan Jr. 4th) has "to improve my artistry," she's such a tiny dancer, yet, she's a tiny comedienne when you hear from her. I listened to her quotes at Eastern, was killed by her hilarious talking way. Please watch her performance on ISU JGPS YouTube channel, then read Backstage @ Eastern page! You'll enjoy her both sides. "unexpectedly," she got stable 3Lz/3F this season, which have matched her artistry: on SP "facial expression! in footworks," on FS "move like this mellow music!".
☞ ISU Biography
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会


Shoko ISHIKAWA 石川翔子  Japan Sports
SP"La Rosa" @ All-Japan

Shoko ISHIKAWA (age 21), she has both energetic soul and body, to energize the musical note with her quick moves, with dynamo of her body and stride - a stunning lady skater. As you know her FS"Miss Saigon" is choreographed by Shizuka ARAKAWA, Shoko plays a role of the "lady": confident, determined, majestic like Shizuka, while the last sequence between finishing SlSt and the last spin, you see Shoko herself glowin' with her own dynamo. Then you'll know how Shizuka's "Miss Saigon" was made for Shoko, in Christmas day.
☞ ISU Biography


Yuki NISHINO 西野友毬  Japan Sports
SP"O Mio Babbino Caro" @ All-Japan

You Japan Skates readers, you're so close to Yuki NISHINO (Eastern 3rd), a JapanSkates-friendly skater. She swings her lean arms and legs and accents with her wrists, to provide a minimalist contemporary touch of her own. She still provides her quality jumping as well, as my mouth got agape! to see her delayed 3Lz last All-Japan. She was a cheerful girl on our interviews in 2009, I'm looking forward to hearing and shipping you 18 aged Yuki's quotes, what kind of lady Yuki's growing for now. …Japan Skates founder Mark said "Just don't tell!" but, you wanna tell that when people say "don't tell that": Yuki is the Most Beautiful Young Lady Skater!
☞ ISU Biography
☞ Yuki NISHINO 2009 summer
☞ Yuki NISHINO 2009 winter


Risa SHOJI 庄司理紗  Japan Sports
SP"A Big Band Jazz Medley" @ All-Japan

15 aged Risa SHOJI (Eastern Jr. 1st, All-Japan Jr. 3rd, competed in JGPF), she is Junior Ladies, indeed, but she has been a lady already. I listened to Risa's tape of interviews at Eastern and JGPF, got amazed how thoughtful she is, she knows her own taste and what she is. In Nov.(Eastern Jr./All-Japan Jr.) she had tried to correct jumping entries, and got satisfied with its effort. And also she "don't care about the placement so much," at JGPF(6th), she was happy with her performance and efforts overall. "be mentally stronger than last season" is her second junior year theme, she will overcome her tension @ All-Japan. Then you'll see a "chic woman" in SP and Risa herself bringing "heartfelt" moment in FS.
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会
☞ Risa SHOJI @ Mixed Zone, 2011 JGPF in Canada


Haruka IMAI 今井遥  Japan Sports
FS"My Fair Lady" @ All-Japan

"Backstage @ Eastern Section", I found one tiny comedienne, Haruna SUZUKI, as well as another hilarious senior lady Haruka IMAI (Eastern 1st), who has great talking skills, too! She has been struggling this season so far, due to a stress fracture in her right arch, but her coach Yuka(SATO), she mentioned at Cup of China: She's so young and promising. Results means a lot to her, however, now I have tried to help her to make her long way leading to her future, to have quality basic skills to expose her "value" in competitions, I hope so. So do we! this Christmas. She skates to modulated FS music, "even I have fun in competitions, as I have fun with the song and choreography," said Haruka, so do we! have fun with Haruka. She's going to have 3T-3T in FS as of Thursday practice.
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Cup of China (佐藤有香コーチ)


Kanako MURAKAMI 村上佳菜子  Japan Sports
SP"Violin Muse" @ All-Japan

Along with Haruka, Kanako MURAKAMI has been struggling this season, due to her boots problem and its pain. At Cup of China, particularly in FS, her highly skating speed achieved only 50% or less, I felt. Kanako was a little sister of galactic Japanese Lady skaters, yet she made a big moment with her sparkling dancing last season. This season she makes a drama, with her growing body. @ Cup of China in SP, I saw her moves crying when the violin was crying. You'll see 17, brand-new Kanako revealing herself @ All-Japan. As of Thursday practice, "3T-3T fits so well," to be planned in SP.


Mao ASADA 浅田真央  Japan Sports
SP"Sheherazade" @ All-Japan

You haven't seen what Mao ASADA herself is, if you have read "what she is" in public in Japan. Most Japanese press have wanted her to win at any competition, in order to tell "a little good girl" story. But you know, Mao herself has been a lady, and she has skated to not only winning a gold. - Last 4CC(196.30 2nd place), I had attended mixed zone interview of Figure Skating, for the first time. As each "mixed zone" has been mixed in each way among sports, so I had to sit out there, to learn how it goes. Making no question, I attended the last mixed zone: Mao's interview after FS. There, I found the slit between the journalists and the wall, into which I could slide myself sideways, (only) my face came onto the first journalist row, and Mao was in front of my very eyes! …You know what capitalism is, how liberalism works. Finally I was waiting for asking to her, as "journalists in the first row" should be. Mao, she was satisfied with her quality 3A(GOE+1.29), and her refined new FS"Liebestraum" choreography. I saw she hadn't gotten disappointed with 2nd place at all. Then our turn, "Japan Skates" asked about new look of "Liebestraum", Mao smiled at the face on the first row, "different from the beginning - even the first pose is different!" said gently.
JS: I guess you imagined a girl who wants to meet her fate in former "Liebestraum", but today the girl met the one! right?
MA: Yes, some moves show such image! (she blushes rose) …At Worlds, I will portray the girl's "Liebestraum(a dream of love)".
A calm, sweet, brave lady answered. She was quietly filled like the lake there. …Most Japanese press says about her: "Mao had been defeated last season." Now what are they going to say this All-Japan? I won't be there, but my bark at the moon has been ready, already!
In SP"Sheherazade", she gives her balletic moves a lot, which were seen at the entry/exit of jumps 2007-2008 season. You'll see her own willowy Mao-Fouette again, reworked as Mao-Arabian-Fouette! Its choreographer Tatiana TARASOVA, I guess she lays the same motif moves on the transition, to make the program the artwork. And this princess has really enjoyed dancing at every single move! Even in spinning her arm position tastes Arabian! In FS"Liebestraum", as Mark wrote @ GPF, "Mao skated with her newly-rediscovered lightness," you'll have a dreamy Christmas with a girl in love.
☞ Mao ASADA @ 2007 Skate Canada
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 NHK Trophy


Akiko SUZUKI 鈴木明子  Japan Sports
SP"Hungarian Rhapsody" @ All-Japan

The most amazing thing of my 2 seasons in Figure Skating reporting, is Akiko SUZUKI , her petite body. You know most top Senior Ladies are so masculine, have great shoulders and backs, to be suitable to jump, but Akko, she is like "Bambi". As she described herself "I'm not physically fitted to jumps," her jumps are the artworks involved with exquisite techniques. I met Akko at 2010 Dreams On Ice(: an annual back-to-season exhibition of Japan Team) for the first time, she noted "I have worked on ideal jumps of my coach(Hiroshi NAGAKUBO)," to me, - "what a sincere company she and Hiroshi are! Even in Ancient Greek or Chinese philosophy school, there was no company like them!" …that was such a stunning quote, which is outtake from her interview, so sorry for that I missed recording there. Mark did record Hiroshi's Mixed Zone interview in GPF(take a look at "the beginning of Backstage @ GPF" below), so you'll know how the company works! He mentioned about another student Ryuju HINO(Junior Men), as well.
Since her comeback on the competitive career, she has been presenting entertaining programs every season. This season, she gives different competition programs from her previous seasons, when she had woven various colored music to make one textural program. In 2 complementary colors Akiko dyes - metallic fireworks-like SP"Hungarian Rhapsody", pastel fine features FS"Die Fledermaus", from her multi-color pallet. You know 3F/3T-3T(of SP) is featured this season, which she has made from age 26, as well as 2 step sequences like Men program; her accelerated skating that is getting faster and faster every season; her musicality with spinning - she features even level features, such as "Camel to Sit/Upright" changing position as her "instrument". Don't miss this charmer's every single move on the ice!
☞ A Charmer on the Ice - AKIKO SUZUKI 2010 summer
☞ Triglav Trophy April 07-10, 2011
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Skate Canada
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 NHK Trophy
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Grand Prix Final


This All-Japan, Japan Skates is going to feature even more skaters(Satoko MIYAHARA, Miu SATO, Kako TOMOTAKI, Miyabi OBA, and so on) please follow us here.
☞ 2011 "All-Japan" National Championships in Osaka reports

☞ Results


+++ Men +++

*sort by ISU World Standings (ascending order)
(Nobunari ODA withdraws due to his left knee injury.)

Takuya KONDOH 近藤琢哉  Japan Sports
FS"Slavonic March" @ All-Japan

Takuya KONDOH (Tokyo Regional 1st, Western Section 6th [age 20]) starred in our very first "Depth" interview series, who gave his very first long interview, too. He confessed "was tensed there," yet I felt he hadn't any tension at all, to be smiling and smiling at me throughout the interview. I guess he might give his act for it, as he did at last All-Japan for his role "Lupin III"(SP). There, Takuya felt like the kind of boy in "Stand by Me". Sending his summer breeze, he read my words and expressions to interpret my thoughts and feelings, to answer the questions decisively and even explore the things to talk about by himself. I was also shocked to meet Takuya himself aged 20, even a little awestruck at his eagle eyes like a mirror, which could reflect anything. He is an art fan, loves literature: movies,novels,Japanese graphic novels, himself can take a role in the story as well, as he will do this All-Japan. Last All-Japan, his atmospherics was stunning. way cool! His utmost upright posture, as he seemed to hook himself to his head, without up-and-down movement his fantastically fast skating looked so controlled and comfortable, as if eagle was flying. He has lean arms and legs, so looked the tallest guy there, however, he(168cm) is smaller than I expected, was shocked to see his small face off the ice, the same size of a grapefruit! …indeed!
You'll see his atmospherics this All-Japan, indeed, and also in SP Israeli folk song "Hava Nagila" you'll see he wearing Sarouel pants, which couldn't unveil his lean legs and his awesome Adductor magnus muscle, but his whimsy to choose Sarouel pants for a Figure Skating costume… what a complicated balloon of Sarouel! and what quick moves with balloon!, Takuya goes "Kinda Crazy in Dance" on his SP, and you'll go crazy if big-on-the-ice moves swiftly, such as bobbing action to spirit himself away from your views. In FS"Slavonic March", a knight without a balloon will present a "fine to watch" program for your Christmas treat. Although he injured his left 4th toe(fracture) in Mid Oct., could be late for preparations of this All-Japan, Maiko - a spokesman of his University skating club, she has committed "he'll be in form on All-Japan without pain!" Excelsior, Takuya!
((correction)) His SP costume Sarouel pants, was "not supposed" Sarouel, as it got loose in skating. So he took off it, has worn well-fitted pants since Eastern Section.
☞ Japan's Depth #1 Takuya KONDOH: A Funky Monk of the Sports and the Arts (this summer)
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会


Akio SASAKI 佐々木彰生  Japan Sports
FS"Akio's Boogie, and more" @ All-Japan

Some of Japanese readers have nudged me since Takuya's interview appeared on Japan Skates, "Interview Akio( Akio SASAKI : Western Section 3rd [age 20]), too!" but… you know, he was such a prodigy Junior boy and such an acclaimed Senior entertainer so far, he's such an experienced skater's skater that the inexperienced Figure Skating writer may not be a right person to write about him… Akio himself gave his message on "Backstage @ Eastern", to his fans. So you'll connect with him! The funky nifty guy will show his "never incapable"3A and "various options" this All-Japan.
☞ ISU Biography
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会


Kento NAKAMURA 中村健人  Japan Sports
FS"Symphony No.3 by Saint-Saens" @ All-Japan

If you are questioning whether "beauty is only skin-deep", you'll get the sarcastic answer when you meet Kento NAKAMURA (Western Section 2nd [age 20]). Alas! "beauty is both skin and skin-deep"! This beautiful guy has sense of decency, as well as this good speaker has sense of humor. At a cafeteria, where I interviewed Kent, that shop didn't put coasters under the glass of iced drink - that I disagreed, to let the water drop be, in order to show disapproval, while Kent wiped it off with table napkins, not only drops onto the table, but also onto the glass, completely! Then gracefully he took napkins for me, too, "Use this," - that I had hoped to firmly refuse, yet I had to use his favor, to wipe only onto the table in a casual way, as I found "Such exactitude works for his exquisite footworks with 3-4 mm edges, and for his detailed dancing."
SP"Fugata", its choreographer Kenji MIYAMOTO said "I can't narrate its making story now, it could take 3-4 hours!", which is made of contemporary "Expressive" moves and tango leader's "Behavioral" moves. Kent does hope to show differentiation "I had done flamenco last season / have been doing tango this season," and also, "to make Fugata differentiated as Tango by Kento Nakamura." His challenging tango program has gotten even more detailed with tango leader's moves since its premier at Dreams On Ice in June, as this tango leader and his invisible follower have embraced more tightly, like the Milonga, and like the youth in love as well! FS"Symphony No.3 by Saint-Saens" is also challenging for Kent, who plans to have a 4T in his content, and who is questioning "To skate Saint-Saens masterpiece as my masterpiece, or not to do, that's the question!" - Wipe something off with all of your heart, and you'll get the merry answer from his challenge this Christmas.
☞ Japan's Depth #4 Kento NAKAMURA: A Coming Up Rose of Japan (this summer)
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 "Eastern Section" 東日本選手権大会


Yuzuru HANYU 羽生結弦  Japan Sports
FS"Romeo and Juliet" @ All-Japan

Yuzuru HANYU @ Cup of China, in Men Saturday FS Practice, he was added into my best-ever athlete of sharpness: Luis Figo(football) in EURO2000, Edgar Davids(football) in 1998 FIFA Worldcup, Mauro Zarate(football) in his skinhead era, Felix Sanchez(400MH) in his 43 consecutive winning era, Alberto Tomba(Alpine Skiing), such as from track&field: Javier Sotomayor, Maurice Greene, Florence Joyner, & some baseball and volleyball heroes! (*random order) Yuzuru, he has met his golden shape at age just 17. There, he made sense what is sharpness: accelerated motion - and - beautiful moves - and - solid rhythm made of the motion and the timing in sync. But, you know, he met his exceptional shape there, so he had been struggling to meet his 4T regular timing… no matter what, Yuzuru had been adjusting to hit it finally with his exceptional sharpness. In FS"Romeo and Juliet" run-through, he sharpened his emotions. So real Romeo was there, he loved his fate as he gave his all to her, as he took all from her - you see Juliet absorbed by this Romeo, on the other hand, he looked after her tenderly far from her - you see Juliet absorbing into Romeo. The last Act "after her death", in ChSt as if I saw an unicorn flashing! when he gave a "knee kick" movement. Romeo was going to "kill himself to meet Juliet again" after the last Biellmann spin, a few crowds made a lot applause, "What a performance!" So did I, sent him ovations as much as possible, even though I had hoped to give a cartwheel around the rinkside! And, even though he is a school boy, he is a man's man, to give you man's man performances and quotes this Christmas.
☞ "Remember" Shizuka ARAKAWA - Nobunari ODA - Fumie SUGURI - Yuzuru HANYU
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Cup of China


Takahiko KOZUKA 小塚崇彦  Japan Sports
FS"Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" @ All-Japan

"He can do anything! on the ice. much promising boy." - a quote from David Wilson to Takahiko KOZUKA . The first time I saw him on the ice, even I suspected he wore different boots from other skaters. His much special skating feels like "floating" rather than "skating", Taka seems to stay afloat in the air, to be off the ice 2-3 mm in his jet boots! Takuya(KONDOH) explained "Taka tilts swiftly - so quickly slides his edges, then so quickly bends his edges, as well. so responsively achieves a deep edge." on his interview. Taka himself "so proudly present SP/FS this season," said at NHK Trophy, and also, I proudly recommend you all, his EX"Cello Song" by Nick Drake! Taka meets a pioneer of Alternative Folk: Nick Drake. All rock fans celebrate such a rendezvous of "floating"! and much appreciate its choreographer Yuka(SATO)! He looks so fine this All-Japan.
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 NHK Trophy


Daisuke TAKAHASHI 高橋大輔  Japan Sports
FS"Blues for Klook" @ All-Japan

Then Japan Skates celebrates "Mark first-ever met Daisuke TAKAHASHI ", at Skate Canada in October! I listened to the audio file of his warm and calm quotes there, and I could see the man who meditates, has the sense of perspective, through his honesty words. As "You can't make your performance, unless you know yourself," he gives the true contemporary magnetism in SP"In the Garden of Souls", and the authentic bluesy atmosphere in FS"Blues for Klook", to which you could almost surrender! Daisuke will "make a Worlds team, make quad as well," quoted at GPF press conference.
☞ Daisuke's stepping stone in 2011-2012 season
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Skate Canada
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 NHK Trophy
☞ Backstage with Japan Skates @ 2011 Grand Prix Final


This All-Japan, Japan Skates is going to feature even more skaters(Tatsuki MACHIDA, Daisuke MURAKAMI, Keiji TANAKA, Takahito MURA, Ryuju HINO, Ryuichi KIHARA, Shoma UNO, Sei KAWAHARA) please follow us here.
☞ 2011 "All-Japan" National Championships in Osaka reports

☞ Results