JapanSkates, www.japanskates.com, is a comprehensive resource for all things Japanese.
Launched in Feb-ruary 2005, the site was originally focused on the Japanese ladies who were becoming a dominant power internationally. The sport’s popularity skyrocket as Miki Ando, Mao Asada and Shizuka Arakawa reached celebrity status at home.
Mark Stephens and Gregg Vereb, the site’s personable co-founders, focused on building a solid relationship with the Japan Skating Federation to deliver exclusive content in English.
There are many lengthy, in-depth and far more conversational interviews than what is found in mainstream media. Full transcript-ions and interesting questions bring out the skaters’ personalities, making them more like coffee breaks, less like interrogations.
The site also features interviews with some of the Japanese men and skaters of Asian heritage such as Patrick Chan and Eri Nishimura.
The older profiles on the site are more extensive than those of, say, Haruka Imai and Kanako Murakami, but I expect new content is on the way.
The main page has a clean, linear design, and most of the interior pages follow the same layout.
Navigation can be a little sticky. The last link on the left sidebar is “Interviews,” but clicking on it leads to a single page, with interviews posted, blog-style, one after the other. Instead, check out the “Interview Corner” on the right-hand side to find a more organized listing.
The main “Photos” index needs to be updated, but overall, there’s no better English Web resource for interaction with the Japanese skating team.
Originally published in February 2011