After winning Japan’s first-ever medal in the sport, the five athletes are good on grains for quite a while.

With the Pyeongchang Olympics now finished, I look back on the Games and realize that the event I watched the most of, and by a huge margin, was curling. Honestly, aside from about an hour total of ski jumping split between two nights and about 15 minutes of figure skating, just about every minute of live Olympic coverage I saw was curling.

This wasn’t based on any pre-existing interest in the sport, though. By the time my work day is done and I have time to sit down in front of the TV, it’s usually at least 9 p.m., and it was almost always curling that was being shown then, especially since Japan’s women’s curling team went deep into the competition on its way to eventually winning the bronze medal, the country’s first ever in the sport.

▼ The moment of victory

A lot of other working adults in Japan no doubt found themselves in a similar situation, and before long the “curling girls,” as they’ve been dubbed, had become media darlings, thanks to their mix of talent, cheerful on-ice demeanor, and coverage of “mogu mogu time” (“munchie time”) as their mid-game snack-and-strategy sessions became known.

▼ While all teams have such breaks at the mid-point of their three-hour matches, the Japanese team’s custom of sitting down with Canadian-born coach J.D. Lind as they eat gives off a relaxed, friends-hanging-out-together vibe.

▼ The team’s use of the Hokkaido-dialect so da nee (“Yeah, that’s right”) instead of the standard-Japanese sou da ne also become a combination meme/rallying cry among fans.

The team’s dramatic come-from-behind, down-to-the-last throw victory over the U.K. in the bronze medal match recorded an average television viewership rate of 25 percent, which jumped to an incredible 42.3 percent at the contest’s climax.

▼ On the podium

Returning to Japan, the five medal winners (Satsuki Fujisawa, Chinami Yoshida, Yumi Suzuki, Yurika Yoshida, and Mari Motohashi) have found a heroes’ welcome waiting for them. Especially happy is JA Zenchu, Japan’s central agricultural co-op union and a sponsor of the women’s curling team. In recognition of the athletes’ historic performance, JA Zenchu is awarding the team with six metric tons (13,228 pounds) of rice.

If that sounds like an incredible amount, it is. Based on average annual consumption, it would take a Japanese adult more than 100 years to eat that much. JA Zenchu hasn’t specified whether it plans to give each team member six metric tons of rice, or if that’s to be split among the five of them, but even in the case of the latter, that would still mean more than two decades of rice per person.

Of course, unless you’ve got your own personal grain silo, that’s more rice than you can store in your home. While JA Zenchu is still working out the logistics of the award, the most likely move is what the organization did when presenting Japanese table tennis player Kasumi Ishikawa with three million yen (US$27,000) worth of rice following her bronze medal win at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which is to give her that amount in the form of 500-yen kome-ken, vouchers that can be used to pay for rice in specialty shops and grocery stores.

The rules for using kome-ken as payment vary from store to store. Some will accept them only in exchange for rice, while others simply require that rice be part of the total basket of goods the customer is buying, and still others allow customers to pay for any of their groceries with kome-ken. “We’re hoping the curling team uses the vouchers for rice, though,” says a JA Zenchu spokesperson, “and that they continue to be healthy and keep doing their best.”

Source: Yahoo! News Japan/Sponichi Annex via Otakomu, Yahoo! News Japan/ via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Allgau