Kenta Maeda demonstrates part of his special calisthenics to Megumi Aoyama. (Hiroki Tohda)
BASEBALL/ Maeda's next MLB dream: Striking out Ichiro
Kenta Maeda says he has no fear pitching in the major leagues but acknowledged he may need to adjust his form and sharpen a new weapon in his arsenal.
Hideki Matsuyama reacts after forcing a sudden death playoff during the Phoenix Open golf tournament on Feb. 7 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP Photo)
GOLF/ Hideki Matsuyama beats Rickie Fowler in Phoenix Open playoff
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona--Hideki Matsuyama won an unexpected playoff victory Sunday after Rickie Fowler hit two balls into the water on the par-4 17th hole in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Japan's Sara Takanashi competes during her first jump of the Ski Jumping Ladies World Cup in Hinzenbach, Austria, on Feb. 7. (AP Photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Takanashi sets hill record, wins 10th straight World Cup
HINZENBACH, Austria--Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi set a hill record before earning her 10th straight victory in the women's World Cup on Sunday.
Japan's Sara Takanashi competes during the qualification jump of the Ski Jumping World Cup Ladies event  in Hinzenbach, Austria, Feb. 6. (AP Photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Sara Takanashi wins 9th straight World Cup event
HINZENBACH, Austria -- Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi extended her winning streak in the women's World Cup to nine events on Saturday.
Japan's Sara Takanashi competes during the women's ski jumping competition at the FIS Skiing World Cup in Oslo on Feb. 4. (AP Photo)
Takanashi wins again in women's ski jump World Cup
OSLO--Sara Takanashi of Japan soared to her eighth straight ski jumping World Cup victory on Thursday, extending her lead in the overall standings.
Japanese head coach Eddie Jones talks with his players after the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between the United States and Japan at Gloucester, Britain, on Oct. 11. Japan won the match 28-18. (AP Photo)
Former national head coach Eddie Jones sees youths as vital to keeping 'rugby fever' alive
LONDON--When head coach Eddie Jones guided the Japanese national rugby team to a historic 34-32 win over South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he helped spark rugby fever across the nation.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku and his wife, Yumi, smile at their wedding reception at a hotel in Tokyo on Jan. 30. (Shintaro Iwamoto)
Ozeki Kotoshogiku holds wedding reception week after major triumph
In the whirlwind week after he became the first Japan-born sumo wrestler in 10 years to win a professional sumo tournament, ozeki Kotoshogiku squeezed in a wedding reception in Tokyo on Jan. 30, his 32nd birthday.
Sara Takanashi of Japan soars through the air during the women's ski jumping World Cup in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Jan. 30. (AP Photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Takanashi of Japan wins 6th straight women's World Cup
OBERSTDORF, Germany--Sara Takanashi of Japan won her sixth women's ski jumping World Cup in succession on Jan. 30.
Japan's soccer players celebrate the winning goal scored by Riki Harakawa, second from left, in a match against the Iraqi team in Doha, Qatar, on Jan. 26. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)
SOCCER/ Japan beats Iraq to qualify for Rio Olympics
DOHA, Qatar--The Japan Under-23 soccer team defeated its Iraqi opponent 2-1 on Jan. 26 to qualify the nation for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Ozeki Kotoshogiku throws fellow ozeki Goeido to the dohyo on Jan. 24 to win the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. (Hiroki Endo)
SUMO/ Kotoshogiku triumphs on Day 15 to become first Japan-born champion in 10 years
Ozeki Kotoshogiku became the first Japan-born sumo wrestler in a decade to hoist the Emperor's Cup by winning the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Jan. 24.
Sara Takanashi (AP photo)
SKI JUMPING/ Takanashi wins fourth straight World Cup event
ZAO, Yamagata Prefecture--Japanese teenager Sara Takanashi won her fourth straight women's World Cup ski jumping event Jan. 22.
Jamie Joseph (Provided by Japan Rugby Football Union)
RUGBY/ New Zealander Joseph set to take over as Japan coach
WELLINGTON--Otago Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has agreed to take over as Japan coach at the end of the Super Rugby champions' 2016 season, the Dunedin-based team said on Jan. 21.
The Jamaican national team tests the “Shitamachi Bobsleigh” at a course in Nagano Prefecture on Jan. 15. (Provided by Junichi Hosogai)
OLYMPICS/ Japanese factories form ‘cool’ partnership with Jamaican bobsled team
After repeated rejections by their home country’s team, a group of factories in Tokyo will provide the bobsled for Jamaica at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Asahi Shimbun
Scientists organize micro-organisms to help Japan win Olympic gold
Japanese scientists have a gut instinct that micro-organisms can play a key role in winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Kenta Maeda shows off his new Dodgers uniform at a news conference held on Jan. 8 at Dodger Stadium. (Go Tsutsumino/ The Asahi Shimbun)
BASEBALL/ Maeda, Dodgers finalize $25 million deal that could be worth $106 million
LOS ANGELES--The Dodgers opened their wallet to sign pitcher Kenta Maeda to an incentive-laden deal that could be worth $106.2 million if he stays healthy, a risk the team was willing to take despite knowing he has had elbow issues.
Kenta Maeda (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
MLB/ Japanese pitching ace Maeda reported to join Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to terms with Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, multiple media outlets reported on Dec. 31, as the team continues to fill the void left by the departure of Zack Greinke.
Yuka Shibano practices her cheerleading routines in Higashi-Sumiyoshi, Osaka Prefecture. (Mihoko Takizawa)
Japanese cheerleader chases NFL dream despite paltry pay
KOBE--The job of a cheerleader in the National Football League involves more than just pom-poms and choreographed routines. They must remain in top form--sometimes in frigid conditions--to keep their spots on the squad. Social and communications skills are also a must.
Amanaki Mafi of NTT Shining Arcs
RUGBY/ World Cup star Mafi moves to England to play for Bath
LONDON--Japan number eight Amanaki Mafi will join Bath next month, the English Premiership club said on Dec. 29.
Sumo grand champion Hakuho holds a Guinness World Records certificate honoring his 35 Emperor's Cups in Tokyo on Dec. 28. (Kenichi Hato)
SUMO/ Guinness World Records gives Hakuho perfect end-of-year present
Yokozuna Hakuho is a hard man to sweep off his feet, but the news that his record of 35 Emperor's Cups was immortalized in the Guinness World Records made him swoon.
Homare Sawa, center, is surrounded by her INAC Kobe Leonessa teammates after scoring the winning goal in the Empress's Cup final on Dec. 27 against Albirex Niigata. (Shiro Nishihata)
SOCCER/ Homare Sawa heads off into the sunset the eternal champion
In a fitting ending to her storied career, women's soccer great Homare Sawa went out a winner on Dec. 27, scoring the lone goal in the final of the Empress's Cup All Japan Women's Football Championships.

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