Yacurling we will go
Posted by ampontan on Saturday, May 30, 2009
THERE MAY BE nothing new under the sun, but big fun often results when imaginative people modify and adapt whatever’s at hand to create something semi-new. One such group of people, led by 66-year-old physical education instructor Kita Ryoko in Mima, Tokushima, decided they wanted to invent a new sport that could be played by people of any age.
What they came up with was yacurling. It’s similar to curling, but played on a gymnasium floor with a kettle instead of on specially treated ice with a granite stone. Curling has shown up on everyone’s radar in Japan since the better-than-expected performance of the women’s team at the 2006 Winter Olympics. The women’s team also finished fourth at the 2008 World Championships, though they didn’t fare so well this year. (The women from China won instead.)
Ms. Kita and her crew started with a five-liter yakan, which is a Japanese-style kettle. (There are different sizes, but they all look the same.) They cut three holes in the bottom of the kettle and inserted casters to allow it to roll. To make sure it moves along smartly, they put 2.5 kilograms of ballast inside.
The players stand nine meters away from the target (which in curling is called the house). The house in yacurling has a diameter of 0.65 meters. The winner is the player who can roll the stone (yakan) closest to the center. Unlike curling, the stone is recovered after each toss, so strategic placement and knocking the the other team’s stones out of the way aren’t factors in this game.
The inventors worked out the kinks at a local sports club on Saturdays and were delighted to discover that it was harder than they thought it would be. Now they hope to get other people interested.
For the sake of comparison, a curling stone is from 17 to 20 kilograms in weight (and costs several hundred dollars). The house is 3.7 meters wide, and the players stand from 45 to 46 meters away.
Yacurling looks like an inexpensive way to have fun to me. Of course it’s just a game rather than a new sport, but who wouldn’t want to try it at least once?
About that name—Japanese vowels have only one pronunciation each. The Japanese A is always pronounced like the A in “father”. Curling in Japanese is rendered ka-ri-n-gu, so the first two syllables in yakan (N at the end of words is a separate unit) are pronounced the same as the first two in yaka-ringu (yacurling).
The reports didn’t say whether it was an individual sport or a team sport, so I don’t know if the team members use a mop on the floor to help the kettle roll home!
The more I think about this, the more it reminds me of something the members of my college fraternity would have cooked up. One night well past the witching hour, two of the members stole a wheelchair from a nearby hospital (I know, I know), and within 24 hours, we were having contests in the living room to see who could do a wheelie the longest (i.e., ride around balanced on the two back wheels with the front wheels in the air).