Both Japanese curling teams at the Asian Winter Games have their sights firmly set on the Pyeongchang Olympics in a year's time, but this tournament could be bigger for the women after their recent loss in the nationals.
There is a chance five-time men's defending national champion SC Karuizawa Club not qualifying for Pyeongchang, but they have some margin for error. The team only needs a seventh-place finish at April's world championships in Canada to punch its ticket, and become Japan's first Olympic men's curling team since 1998.
LS Kitami, also representing Japan at the Asian Games, won the women's nationals for the past two years but is reeling from a failed title defense this month against Chubu Electric Power in the final. The two sides will meet in September for the women's Olympic berth with Japan guaranteed to appear for the sixth straight Games.