Japan's Noguchi Wins Olympic Marathon After Radcliffe Drops Out
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"Japan's Noguchi Wins Olympic Marathon After Radcliffe Drops Out"
The hottest period in Japan is mid-August, in line with most of Northern Hemisphere countries. Also, by following suit, a majority of office and factory workers take summer vacation during this season. What may be little different, however, especially from the industrialized countries of North America and Western Europe, is that the vacation is normally limited to only one week at most, and that many take their days off at the same time because of "o-bon", a traditional Japanese festival providing a good opportunity for family reunion. (See "News Review #241" for comments on "o-bon.")
Accordingly, the city-dwellers' behaviors are largely split in two, whether to shove through the congestion in order to reach home to meet their families and old friends -- traveling to countryside resorts would also fall into this category --, or to stay in the city and enjoy the quietness -- perhaps visit those normally ignored nearby places of interest, and watch TV.
For TV spectators, an annual nationwide high school baseball tournament is staged during this period, which usually becomes the favorite topic of conversation across the country. (In fact, in this year's competition, a high school from Hokkaido, the Northernmost island, became the winner for the first time in the tournament's 80 year history. The heavy snow in Hokkaido has been considered the obstacle for the school teams there to practice sufficiently in competing against teams from more temperate weather. As such, this could have been the big news for the summer.)
This year, however, there is an even more exciting way for those staying home to kill time on TV -- the Olympic games. Because of the time difference, most of the games are televised in late evenings in Japan. The women's marathon, reported in the article introduced here, started at midnight, at zero o'clock on Monday in Japan. Many people do stay up, though, to watch their favorite sport, wish for the Japanese players to win, and see the national flag raised to congratulate their victory. This is an event in four years when every Japanese seem to suddenly love and pay respect to their national flat and the anthem. Watching the players and spectators wave the "Hinomaru" (the national flag) makes one wonder what has happened to those chunk of Japanese people who, from time to time, reportedly behave as though they hate the flag,
Is it, then, as ancient Greeks envisioned millenniums ago, the period of Olympics realized when conflicts cease during the while the games are carried on? At least within Japan, it might be so.