Japan Sport Stories

More than Just Medals with Fumie Suguri

November 02, 2020 Mike Salter and Noel Thatcher Episode 8
Japan Sport Stories
More than Just Medals with Fumie Suguri
Chapters
Japan Sport Stories
More than Just Medals with Fumie Suguri
Nov 02, 2020 Episode 8
Mike Salter and Noel Thatcher

Fumie Suguri is one of Japan's most successful figure skaters and a legend of the ice. Noel and Mike talk to her about how growing up in Alaska woke her interest in the sport, the people and place that influenced her most during the career, and why her medals were never the most important thing for Fumie in skating. 

<Follow us on twitter> 
https://twitter.com/JSStories 

<Get in touch> 
[email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

Fumie Suguri is one of Japan's most successful figure skaters and a legend of the ice. Noel and Mike talk to her about how growing up in Alaska woke her interest in the sport, the people and place that influenced her most during the career, and why her medals were never the most important thing for Fumie in skating. 

<Follow us on twitter> 
https://twitter.com/JSStories 

<Get in touch> 
[email protected]

Episode 8 More than Just Medals with Fumie Suguri

Tue, 3/2 12:46PM • 44:03

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

skating, japan, japanese, performance, people, realise, sport, living, programmes, skater, olympic, story, pudding, incredible, podcast, enjoyed, olympics, english, thought, coaches


00:00

That was so fantastic to talk to someone who's been that successful in sport and have a completely fresh view of the whole process, something that's far more meaningful than just medals. I love that I was incredible.


00:16

Usually when we introduce the guests with a Sarah ciments, medals and accolades, but after recording that episode, I'm gonna have to throw the whole thing out and start again.


00:31

In today's world of instant information, it's easy to see athletes careers as data points, the number of medals that major events Olympics participated in who career highs and lows. Today's guest is phumi acerca. De now fumi is one of Japan's most successful figure skaters with multiple World Championship Grand Prix, and four continents medals, and she represented Japan twice a Winter Olympic Games, the Nolan I gained a whole new perspective on what being an athlete means and how you can measure your own success. We really hope you enjoyed listening to this episode, as much as we enjoyed recording it. Jimmy song, thank you so much for joining us.


01:09

Well, thank you so much for having a bag and having me in this podcast.


01:14

So, first question we got to ask you Freemason is where are you at the minute?


01:19

I'm in Las Vegas right now.


01:22

And what are you doing in Las Vegas? Is this your?


01:26

Yes. So I I'm teaching and like doing a choreography for for little kids and like teenagers here, I moved to Las Vegas two years ago from Toronto, it was very interesting how I decided to move here. I just had a friend live in Vegas, he was inviting me because like Vegas is one of the big show town and it might be interesting for you to you know, come and visit and you know, see a lot of like entertainment shows, then I you know, visit one time and I love this city so much. And I thought there's so much opportunity in this stuff that I can learn from this, you know, town, then I start thinking and to move. And actually at the time, the rink just build it a new ice rink because the they had a new NFL NHL team called Vegas Golden Knights. And they made a practice ring for them. Then like it's kind of like the skate like skating self was growing this city. Then I can see Wow, like this city could be like, you know, very big for skating as well. Then I decided to move from Toronto.


02:46

I'm really enjoying the ice skating rink in the middle of the desert.


02:51

Everyone is asking me that? Are you like sure that is their ice rink in the middle of the desert? And I said yes, actually like the Vegas Golden Knights is like such a huge like team right now. And like skating is like so big. And your students coming mainly from Vegas and they come coming from LA. Where do you get your students from? Normal students are based like this like local like skaters. But But I have I'm very lucky that I have skaters coming from LA or different like towns, LA, Denver, Oregon, San Diego, like different like places.


03:33

Fantastic. And of course, Vegas is is a big performance down. So we're gonna talk a lot about performance and sport and art and sport as we go through this podcast. But we want to take it right back to the beginning, if that's okay, and that talk about where you grew up, grew up. So understand that you you were born in in Chiba, at near Tokyo in Japan. Very early on. You moved to Alaska.


03:58

Is that right? Yes. Correct. Yes. So I born in Japan, Chiba. And then, when I was three I move up there because of my father's job. And then I we stayed there for two, two years, two and a half years. And then after that, we came back to Japan.


04:16

Do you think sort of you've lived in, in in various countries? And if so, from a very young age you you experienced two languages and you're bilingual English and Japanese and, and and more than two cultures throughout your professional career. Do you think that's that that shaped your view of the world and and and what you wanted to do?


04:37

So the language part um, it's like yes and no, because like my parents are Japanese and I only speak like Japanese like between families. When I moved to Uncle I'd like my parents put me into the local kindergarten so it was only English. It took me a while to understand English fully, but I learned Basic during that time, and after that I did not have a chance to speak English until 15 years old when I met with my choreographer,


05:10

what was it? Like? I've been encouraged because if you look at it, it's quite an empty not a very well known place in America. What was it like, you know, growing up there for so long,


05:19

right now it's kind of get very like, quiet like CD, I think. But before they used to the planes used to stop on colours to fuel that, you know, the gases and so on. So it was a pretty big at the time when I was okay, so there was a lot of Japanese so and then it was very, um, how to say, I think I got so much like, different like experience than just living normal, like city and you asked, because it's like, so like nature, like nature is so attached to my like, normal life because I can see, like deers, like all the time, like right next to our houses and like, you know, the pond. The way how I started skating was we went to the pond and skate, you know, skating the pond, which is like, if I'm living in Japan, it never ever happens. So I think it was very, we experienced a lot of like, very interesting, like stuff when I was there.


06:26

Is it fair to say that you kind of fell in love with the fun side of skating first before you dreamt of becoming an Olympian or a performer?


06:36

Yeah, definitely. I uh, for me, like skating was like, just fun. And like, maybe because of the good memory of Alaska. Like, every time I skated, I had I never had a bad experience on like, skating that memory really, like change my, like personality. Like I always have, like, curious about any kind of stuff. And that mentality, like, helps me to open like many different types of like opportunities. And I really thanks that my, like, parents gave me a lot of chances to experience many type of things during when I was there.


07:14

Amazing. So how was the change from Anchorage to did you move back to Chiba? How is the change back to Chiba?


07:21

I went actually like I we moved back to Yokohama. Then it was either My mom told me I did not remember very well, but my mom told me that it was hard for her to teach me Japanese at the time. Because I could not say like, I was almost like for like five and a half of like, six and I could not see like, right and left in Japanese, which is I'm almost have to go to the school. And she was starting to try What should I do? And, and then it was, um, so everyone asking how do you like start, you know, how do you mom decided to take you to the skating rink, you know, then I was, I always tell that it was kind of fun story that I have on my mother, there was a giant like ice rink, out of a Heisman Ward on our way to my school. And then she was continuously like, looking that like every day. And then like, she thought, oh, like, we try skied in Alaska and phumi might gonna forget memories once you get old. So it might be good for her to learn skating, then she won't forget, you know, memory of Alaska. Then she took me to the beginner class at that advertisement ice rink. So that's how I started skating. But she was always like joking. That damn, like, why I took the skating time because like, after this, you realise that skating is not very easy sports to do for the dog, you know, put it on the daughter.


08:58

I was watching a Japanese documentary and there's a scene where your your mom's trying to drag you off to take you home and you're refusing


09:06

like, yes, yes, yes.


09:09

She is. She comes into the ice and forces over. You clearly you clearly love love to skate. Take us take us from that point there to when you sort of started to take things a little bit more more seriously.


09:23

I don't know. I think I love performing. And I was so i have i love moving in my body so and it feels like so good when you skate on the ice and that you feel like it's smooth fast like you feel the air and I love that moment. So but I think my family wasn't very like sports family. So she worried about like more about the studying like studying side. She and my like father was telling me that if you don't like study well The school we are not going to taking take you to the skating. So that is our, you know, condition to take you to the skating. So it was always like a fight between me and my mom, Like mother, like mother wanted to take back home because like, you know, needed to study because the skating figure skating was not very, very big at the time, then. So my mother did not thought that I could live with like skating, like, work. So she thought skating is like, maybe like she's gonna do until like, universal, like while she's in a school, but after she needed to get job to make her living, you know, so it was very Yeah, it was like fighting between my mother.


10:48

But you became far more committed to escaping what was the point at which you thought I want to take this this this next for you know, Nick, next step I want to was just about sort of expressing yourself just or did you see somebody and Winter Olympics and say that's, I want to be like that? What was that kind of snuck it? What was that


11:10

again? So yeah, I think you now the skater Michelle Kwan. Mm, American, she's like, same age as me. She was, like, way ahead. Like she was in the like, rule championship, like when she was already like 13 or 14, like very talented skater. Because of like, same age, I was watching her skating on MTV or something. And one year, Michelle change so much like her performance change a lot. Like she looks like, like similar like me, like, you know, young teenager, like very, not, not really matured. But then like, in one year, like she changed like so much like her like makeup see become like really woman, you know, like mature woman and reformers was like so, you know, it seemed like a different level. And then I was like, wondering what's happened on in her life, because like her last year was she was performing like a kid. And next year, like she turns like, what's your woman on what happened to her? And then I started like, researching. And then I find out, she has her own choreographer, I saw the documentary, and she made a lot of, you know, she worked with her a lot, and made a lot of like, changes in her programmes. And then I find out the secret and I thought myself, like, I wanted to perform like her, like I wanted to become like her. And then I approached to this like robber named Laurie Nicole, who is almost like my mentor, after I met her, like, My dream was I really wanted to become like, like her like, I wanted to be a fraud offer. So actually, everyone is asking when did you like realise that you could be Olympian or something? Or what is what was the dream? Or like, what is the goal or something like that? And I told them like, my goal was always become like her like a choreographer, not the Olympic like Olympic. There was nothing into my mind. So she actually like changed my life. No, and then like, I start realising I take it I tried to, you know, practice, like very seriously because I really wanted to be like her. Incredible indeed, you


13:35

got to meet Michelle Klein, I believe, and she got to teach us Yes,


13:39

yeah, I met her. So like very, you know, kind of like texting sometimes. So very close. Like she's, I think it was the big change was 1986. Like World Championships, she dance. She used the music called on solo map, the story is based on like all pero is like mid mid Eastern in top of flames. But she's like, so like, not like, sexy, but very like matured a woman. I was very surprised. Like, I still remember that performance in my head.


14:17

You went very quickly to becoming one of Japan's top juniors, I think finished second in Japanese juniors when you're 15 years old and fourth in the world. So it was quite a quite a swift rise, but you're doing that presumably while you're still going to school? Yeah. How was he?


14:34

Yeah, it was, it was very tough. I went to like a rec league or school. So I could not skip the classes. Like even I have like international competitions. My kind of like my deal between my parents was I could not, you know, I need I have to be a good score in the school. Then they will let me skate. So I will was like, trying not to skip the classes even I was sick because like maybe like there's there was a like amount of days that you can kind of like skip classes but over that if I do that, you know, you cannot move to the next grade. So I have to keep like less and less even like I was sick like I will try to go to school, I have to finish my homework like during the break between each classes at school because I don't have the time to do that at when I get home because I need to practice. So it was a lot of a challenge there.


15:33

It was worth it in the end but incredible, incredible amount of dedication and talk to us about sort of the build up to Nagano you know, Nagano Winter Olympics are happening in your own country, there must have been an incredible amount of attention and expectation and your own personal determination to get that that journey that was that that must have been incredibly hard.


15:52

Yes, it's changed a lot when I met with Lauren Nicole, when I was 15 years old. And I had this like none Olympic year when I was 17 years old, which is like a very small, like shorter amount of time to prepare, I had a little injury like six months before the competition, right after the competition, I wasn't really disappointed, because I told myself that I tried my best. And then but like, it became really hard when I start seeing the Olympic stuff on TV, or like even on a train, they have an autographed Heisman or something like that. Because I started realising that I lost a big chance in my life, probably, I thought he won't happen that Japan will host the Winter Olympic during my skating career, and I could have a chance to be there. But I never because of not enough preparation or my injury, I lost that test. So I regret a lot a lot after you know, the Olympics, you know, happened and like those kind of stuff,


17:03

you still went to watch what's escaping, I understand. And when I saw that, I think that is the mindset of an incredible champion that you're determined to take some positives and to watch it and take it all in and actually go through that process and put yourself through that in order to become stronger and better and more focused and an even greater champion. And I think that's absolutely incredible. And I know that a lot of people praise you for your for your mental toughness and resilience that that I think is incredible.


17:37

I wasn't realised, definitely I lost this chance to go to Nagano helps me a lot to build my mentors strengths, because I regret that so much like I realised like, you know, I lost so much stuff during that time. And that mentality helps me a lot to move forward. But at the same time, the choreographer Laurie Nicol helps me a lot to be in the sports because her like, talent and skills and artistic like stance was way, way way ahead. And every time I you know, learn with her, it was a really like treasure and joy. So there was a lot of toughness, like mental toughness as well. But you can move forward just because of you have a regrets or you have like, you know, tough moment or something like that you needed. enjoy what you're doing. So without that process, I probably could not, like continue skating, just have the regrets and you know, that type of thing.


18:53

So would it be fair to say that it's that performance and that joy of expressing yourself more than a kind of real raw competitive drive that kept you skating?


19:03

Yes. I, I always told myself like a resource of the competition. It's not the most important things, it's more important thing is like to perform the best and good programmes and export, like, inspire the people. That is the most important things, although like the competition is very I'm not saying that I hated competition like competing. I really enjoyed competing, because you will like Find yourself a lot during the competition that is the most like, like fun part of like competing,


19:42

betting. Obviously you didn't enjoy competing because soon after that happened, you started at West Africa, and then you you won your second Japanese national championships in 2001 became the first Japanese woman to win the four continents cup, the same year and then in 2002 you Had your you had your place in 2002 in Salt Lake City? What was it like for you to? I know you said the Olympics was in your main goal, but you must have still been incredibly proud to make the Olympics. Oh, well, like


20:13

I never brought up my performance like in my life, like I will always have Damn. Like I can do a little bit more better here and here. Like I'm not proud of my performance. But I had, like, excellent memory when I got the Grand Prix Final, like metal at the broader spring. Because that place was my coach, like Mr. Sato skated exactly the same place. During his world championships. I forgot how many years ago, but he skated perfect programmes at the time, but he couldn't get on the podium. And many years later, I won this title as a first Japanese and he was like crying so much after I thought I needed to give him lightly now that oxygen spliff to him the you know, like after I was like, dogs dead, I guess. Because altitude, and I still remembers that I did. This was this result, like something? Stay in my heart forever. You know, that is the only one time that I was very, you know, happy about what I've done.


21:28

Was was that 2003 2003? Yes, yeah. Because I watched that. I watched that performance this morning. On three performance this morning.


21:39

Oh, thank you.


21:40

And there was just I can't describe the look, in your eyes when you finish that performance. And I was gonna ask you, it's one of the questions I was really looking forward to ask. Because I


21:52

need oxygen.


21:56

You You looked so happy and so satisfied with that performance. And that was the thing I did just looked at a long while ago, I did anything slightly athletic. And it's definitely not artistic. Mike and I was having this discussion about this, there's no artistry and distance running. But You looked like you were completely happy with that performance at that one point.


22:21

Yeah. Yes. Like not only my performance, I had that, you know, stories behind me. Like I was, like hearing from my coaches, and I need it, I have to like win this for him. And so as I'm very happy now also relief that I don't have to skate with like less oxygen places.


22:47

This is a mate. Normally, when we have guests in the podcast, their favourite performance is always the one that is the highest performance. And you know, either the Olympics or World Championships, something like that. But for you, it's very obvious that it's just the one that you felt was your best performance, rather than where the performance was. And that's really nice to see.


23:06

Yeah, absolutely. And you did look incredibly happy. I would urge anybody, listen, everybody listening to this podcast to go back and look at that. Look at that performance.


23:16

We will definitely put a link to that and our Twitter, just so everyone can see it. It's really worth a watch. And we move on to your decision to retire from repetitive skating if we may. Yes, we watched your retirement on YouTube. And we have to ask about the pudding.


23:33

Okay, so um, first of all, I think after I though terino I think it was a before the terrain Olympic 2006 I was telling myself Okay, so my favourite like desert is like putting, so if I stopped eating the pudding, I'd like kind of like a Make a wish to skate well of the Olympic. You know, maybe Yeah, that was my deal myself. Okay, so I'm not gonna eat puddings until I can skate it good enough Reno, like touring Olympic. And then like, I couldn't finish for all the terrain Olympic. I was fourth and I was I wasn't very satisfied with my, like my places. So I keep seeing that. Okay, so I could not make finish wall. So okay, so I have to, like, you know, continue this stuff until I can skate and well on the next Olympic. So I was like, not eating at the pulling for next four years. And then after that, then like, four years later, I could not make it to the Olympic team. So I still continue doing that like not even at the pudding. So So and then like finally when I like decided, Okay, so this is a retirement. I think My agent was remembering that I wasn't eating the pudding for a long, long time. And then he said, I don't like my agent said, I don't want to do like very sad retirement interviews. So I wanted to make it fun and people remember, like, you know, that I want to do have that moment. And then we said, Okay, so let's put the putting in our like, retirement interview, you know, so that people will remember and also like, I will also remember, you know, to so was with good people love it.


25:37

Definitely stuck in my memory because you It looks like a very, you know, standards, retirement announcement, there's the table, the microphones, the reporters in the seats, you're in your seats, and then it asks you like anything, please.


25:53

And then after I was like, received tonnes of pudding, like a month, and then I thought, no more pudding. I hate it enough.


26:05

I never want to see pudding again. Okay.


26:08

If any pudding companies would like to sponsor this podcast, we are available.


26:12

We're open to offers pretty much anybody. So, since since retirement, you've been, you've been super busy, not only you know, coaching choreographing TV shows, and now we the monkey tears. So, tell us a little bit about monkey and how you became over that,


26:33

I started the company with my partner I met, I met my partner through my skating show project, I wanted to I wanted to make a documentary series and he was a director of the film and we started talking about it and like I kind of like started having interest about the film industry. So and then we start a company together from 2019. And last year, we made it three short films. One is named like Villa Ma, which is story about human trafficking. And second one was called human her It is about like mental illness and in society. And the last one like called a son of Siva, it is his I could say like historical drama. So the story is like 950 BC, like the relationship between the Queen of Sheba and her son and strain when he learns a life changing secret about his father that the Queen has hidden for his entire life. So it's like I love the kind of like story and we decided to make those like short films last year. And Lisa Lee, like we just finished two third of the another like short film, The name is called a kill or be killed. The story is like on happens on the Las Vegas, I could not say a lot. But yeah, I hope that people will, okay, so, you know, wait for another, you know, an estimate


28:13

this some quite weighty subjects in the mental health issues and random in the moment in sport in general, every time I get invited to talk to a group of athletes, it's something that comes up very, you know, very often in the, in the conversations and, you know, sporting Life Is it is it is can be really, really, really, really tough. If you look like you've enjoyed your, your whole skating career, which is amazing.


28:41

And nowadays, it's changing a lot. And we need to, like, think how we should do in the future? No. So it's a very big theme, but, you know, we needed to, like we cannot put on side and like do like, you know, seminar, whereas like before?


29:01

Absolutely and and the world is changing a lot and the youth lived and being coached by in Korea and being choreographed by if I'm right, in Japanese coaches, American coaches, US coaching Russian coaches, and so you really have been immersed in some quite different cultures and, and probably even like the training systems are very different. And how did that kind of influence your, your performance? So when when you look at all that, all that experience that how does that affect the actual performance rather than the technical side of the skating?


29:41

I think it did help my performance side more than the technical side. I would definitely like technique wise, I learned a lot but like for my side, I improved a lot because I was very lucky that I can learn for many different teachers, but also I could live in the culture so I could more understand what they're saying and what they wanted to show like what they want me to perform or something like that. Like, you know, you can learn from many teachers but you cannot understand well if you don't live in that country, you know, to understand like full meaning I can explain like when I like that's what I felt when I like right now I'm in living us people will sometimes ask like how do you use chopsticks or something but then the important thing is not a teaching how you have to how or like how to use a chopstick you have to teach them what is the culture behind the reason why you cannot do this is because of this or you know, like how this has happened. And that is very important to teach, you know, to teach people and also like you need because of that like I thought when I look back it was really good that I live there as well not just had you know, learned what's the


31:05

the culture that had the most influence on your performance? Is there one he would you say you bring more Japanese aesthetic and to the to the rink is a bit of everything, isn't it the music you've chosen, it's been bring some of my favourites because I'm a big jazz fan. So I love Dave Brubeck and actually handyman senior Pink Panther film. Anybody dances to that. That's all good Bobby.


31:28

Actually, um, for example, like when I was in the living in Russia, it was like a very, like, tough The weather was like, you know, like a very cool like snowing a lot of times and at the time, the English wasn't really some people could speak English, but most of the peoples are just, you know, talk Russians. And I felt like like mentally very tough myself because I could not speak out to any anyone else. Like I was struggling a lot. But I could not speak Russian I was trying to learn, but those kind of like mentalities or like struggles are tough. No stuff really works, how you perform in programmes. When I perform the Pink Panther, my choreographer asked one of the MIME a person to help the performance, like if I'm not living it that was happening in Canada, so we could have a person, person from silk Actually, he was a performers from silk. And if I'm not living there, I probably could not get those experiences as well. Having a lessons from a lot of teachers are not very difficult, but you know, living there and understanding, like fully understanding is, you know, it worked well. Well. I feels like it was worth living there.


32:59

Fantastic. Thanks.


33:01

That was a very it was an amazing honour. It wasn't it. It


33:03

was an incredible honour. And this is so much more than the story about, about about sport. It's, you know, in a culture that so thank you so much for for sharing, sharing all this with us, Mike.


33:17

Yeah, I think it's time to move into the slightly lighter portion of our podcast. At this point in podcast, we always ask our guests for a few recommendations about Japan and Japanese again. The first one we ask is, Do you have a favourite Japanese word or phrase?


33:33

I like the word. more colita more moody. It sounds like Margarita. No, I don't want to do it anymore. But no, isn't it more? More More gordita like it's in English? Yeah, it's like selfless devotion to the service of others.


33:54

Okay, wow. Okay. It's very powerful. Yeah.


33:59

To me, so why is that your favourite word?


34:01

I'm in like, entertainment world. Like everything is like not about I That's what I said. It's not about them, like, you know, how you please. At the competition, it is more about like, how much you can inspire people. And if you don't have this, like sense in yourself, you can do like entertainment, you know, and also I was I had a lot of a people around me that helped my life. Like this way. Like they helped they helped me be not because of business wise, they helped me because just trust my passion and like future. So now it's my time to return back to this to the world.


34:56

That's That's such a beautiful response and I got a quote here from your think maybe it was something you'd said to the press in 2003 when you won the Grand Prix Final which was keyboard, mouse cardio cons, the whole sheet and then I think you want the world to feel the light of hope. And that again was such an incredibly powerful and beautiful thing to say about your performance which is as you say, so much more than just for


35:29

Yeah, it was I think at the time it was during this time, so like cd 2002 and do so zone one you know the the crash happened on September 11 I still Pete like people were so like was really sad like very like disappointed what happened and kind of like surrounded what they could do for in the future. And I thought I not like a perfect but my programme was moonlight so I wish that I could be like a moonlight you know, shows always moonlight shows the past where to go. So that was you know, what I really wanted to show in my programme.


36:17

I'm sorry, Mike, you Okay, so I get to ask the next question because Mike has to ask one question. It's it's kind of becoming part of our routine here. So if there were one place in Japan that you'd recommend our listeners go to where would that be?


36:34

For I think for food like food, like eating like food wise I recommend it and go to like Niigata like how could it go? You gotta I had um I used to go there a lot of time for because of my skater but nega they like the food is so good. Like fishes are very good. They have a you know the rice is really good so that means like their alcohol sock is really good. So like fish is like so fresh. So I recommended to go Niigata you know the hokuriku like you know, that part for sightseeing. I recommended Kamakura which is my school was in Kamakura so every time I walk that and you know cherry blossom like houses and I have a good memory, and it's very close from Tokyo, so you know, especially like, like April like fall, like that was like, you know, cherry brasen like, seasons are very good. Beautiful. So


37:41

if there was one activity one thing you recommend visitors Japan do, what would it be?


37:51

Dad, what is Japan? What is it like ski but it very interesting that a lot of like I heard from a lot of like friends that oh, I went I wanted to go to like skiing in Japan like Hokkaido. Like they were so famous. And I didn't I'm I'm very surprised that people know about like, Japan as a scheme, please. No.


38:22

So I used to work up in Nagano on a ski resorts and Oh,


38:24

really,


38:25

wow. And a very, very small ski resorts. And we got absolutely no tourists at all. And I think in Europe, because we're next to the Alps, I would just pop to the Alps. It's only an hour away. Whereas I don't think many Europeans would pick Japan as a skiing or snowboarding destination. It's really good.


38:45

Yeah, it's like a powder, like powder. Snow. They tell us like, I don't know, especially that Hokkaido is like, the, like, the people who like skiing they, they wanted to go there because of powder snow. And I you know, because of my skating, I don't like ski. And they're like, I'm like curious right now. Like, okay, so you might be good. Like, it's not just one person saying that, you know, like tonnes of people are saying like, Japan for skiing. Okay.


39:17

Yeah, I will. I will back up your recommendation for go skiing or snowboarding in Japan is it really is good. I really loved my time there. We should get paid by the Tourism Board. No.


39:27

We should. We should indeed. You gotta it's your question. Right. It's that question.


39:32

I always look forward to this. So the last thing we have to ask you is one Japanese food you think that everybody should eat at least once when they go to Japan?


39:42

Try not thought like, cod Lake, but it's very, you know, at least in your life. You should try you know, maybe you love it like no, some people love it. Like somebody Look at


40:01

I wish I wish I had the vision to see Mike's face now at this point in time. Not though. Do you like not though mine.


40:09

So I have a little I have a story about this. So for the people at home that don't know, natto is fermented soybeans. I used to live so often No, no, I was in Yamaguchi, which is very, very old fashioned in classical Japan. And I got school lunches. And about once a month, we would get natto as part of our school. And part of the culture in Japan is you have to especially because I was older and supposed to be a good role model. I had to eat all of my food. And this included natto and after about three months, I got used to it. And I was I really enjoyed really. Yeah. You know, we get the chopsticks, you mix it up. So it's all stringy and hard. Yeah, I you know, I'm a big fan.


40:55

Oh, good. Okay, good. And


40:59

it just takes persistence.


41:03

You're still you're still not selling it to me. It was on our kitchen. It actually was on our dining table this evening. Both my wife and my son had not only that email tonight.


41:13

All right. Wow. See? So people need to join up, though.


41:18

I mean, from our point of view, this has been so much more than we ever imagined to be. You've been incredible. And we've touched on lots of stuff. How do you think it's gone? How's it been? From your point of view? Is there anything you'd really like to talk about that we haven't covered? Or?


41:34

I think we're good. I think I was looking the questions. And I pretty much we pretty much like cover.


41:41

Yeah, absolutely everything but so much more. And it's been so much fun. And so natural. So I hope. Hope you've enjoyed it, I think.


41:50

Yeah, yeah, actually, like, I never done like, like podcasts in my life. And so this is my first time at first time in English. So


42:04

we're breaking boundaries.


42:08

We are now a major international journalistic force ever interviewed. For me, it's a goodie on


42:17

a podcast in English. So I was very nervous. I did.


42:22

I did look and see done something for an American skating podcast I couldn't find couldn't find it cuz you can't get it in this country. But I think oh, yeah, this is. Yeah. Thank you so much for giving us the time. It's amazing to see you again.


42:42

Thank you.


42:43

I'm hoping you've enjoyed as much as we have. Yeah, I do. Yes. Absolutely. And enjoy the rest of your day. Keep doing what can you can, can you and we look forward to following your adventures? Yes, thank you so much in the future. Thanks so much.


43:02

Thank you.


43:11

Thank you for listening to Japan sports stories. I'd like to thank phumi for finding time for us in her busy schedule and for giving us a whole new perspective on success and the meaning of World Class sport. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to follow us on Twitter so you can hear about the newest episodes as soon as they're released. You can find us on at j s stories. Next time. We're turning back the clock and looking back and one of the defining moments in Japan sporting history. The story of the Eastern Witches of the 1964 Olympics, will be joined by leading Japanese studies academic Dr. Helen McNaughton, as she takes us through the story of a team of cotton industry workers, and how they became the most celebrated athletes of their time in Japan. Make sure you subscribe to us so you don't miss out and we'll see you in a fortnight.