SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR
Carl Sotomil is the 2023 AJET Social Media Coordinator. He is an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Iyo-shi, Ehime Prefecture. He likes photography, Japanese history, cycling, discussing about city planning and trains.
Hello Mikans, it’s me Carl, the train guy from Iyo-Nakayama. Today I want to talk to you about a non-railway related event, the Ice Skating Event that happened on Saturday, April 22nd at the Iyotetsu Sports Center in Matsuyama. This event was the brainchild of the Kochi AJETs, so on behalf of Ehime AJET, thank you very much for hosting this event and we hope to see you back here in Ehime!
The folks from Kochi drove to Matsuyama early in the morning and were later joined by people from all over Ehime. Ehime JETs from as far out as Saijo in Toyo and Seiyo in Nanyo came to the event. The initial 2000 yen fee to the arena was reduced by 300 yen thanks to the large turnout. The fee came with free ice skate rental and unlimited access to the two skating rinks in the arena. When the group came to the arena at 11 in the morning, there were not a lot of people using it; this allowed the group to skate a little bit more freely around the rink.
The Kochi and Ehime JETs had a fun time getting to know each other and showing off their skating skills. Most of the group managed not to fall over and some of the JETs were able to show their figure skating skills. Emily from Ozu and Emily from Kochi were showing the rest of the group how to do basic skating, such as turning. The two showed the group to do a “lemon” shape while skating. It can be done forwards and backwards and is one of the basic principles to remember if someone wants to either turn, skate backwards or do a spin.
Meanwhile the event became the perfect opportunity to brush up on skating and balancing in general. There were significant differences between figure skating and ice hockey skating. I found myself struggling a little bit in figure skating but when I switched to pretending that I had a hockey stick in my hands, I was able to get more comfortable and push myself a little bit more.
The Ehime and Kochi JETs skating at the Iyotetsu Sports Center. Photo credit: Jyn LaPointe, Tanner Halbert and Carl Sotomil.
A Plea from the Sports Center
As the group skated around the arena, the volunteers at the Iyotetsu Sports Center approached the group to sign a petition against its closure in the near future. The current plan is to close and demolish the Iyotetsu Sports Center in 2027 or earlier due to the lack of usage and the increasing maintenance costs of the facility. If the plan goes through, the entire island of Shikoku will have no place to practice ice skating, ice hockey or curling. It would be a huge shame considering that these sports have recently become extremely popular in Japan due to the performance of its athletes at the Olympic Winter Games. It would also be a massive loss for the local community, as the Sports Center has acted as an important community space for people that live in the area. Closing the center would only accelerate the decline of the area that surrounds it.
The ice skating event was fun! It provided an opportunity for the Kochi and Ehime JETs to interact with each other while practicing their ice skating skills. We really hope to collaborate with Kochi AJET again. I will for sure remember to bring a hockey stick next time, maybe it’ll improve my skating skills!