I’m quite intrigued by the way that the Japanese people love baseball and have embraced this American game into their culture. It’s very interesting to see how they have put their own Japanese “spin” on it in regards to training, fandom, and more.
I found this great article on the topic. Here is an excerpt:
“Sony Walkmans, Toyota cars, and Nintendo video games are all Japanese exports that Americans have come to know and love.
But in Japan, there is an American import that inspires more passion than all of those: baseball.
Officially, Japan’s national sport is sumo wrestling. But baseball is unquestionably number one in the people’s hearts. The Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s most popular professional team, play to standing-room crowds nightly–not only in their hometown of Tokyo, but all across the country. Organized rooting sections, led by cheerleaders and bands, rival those seen at U.S. college football games. And every summer, the whole nation tunes in to the national high school basball tournament–one of the biggest amateur sporting events in the world.
Some people find it surprising that Japan is taken with such a quintesentially American game. But the Japanese approach baseball with their own methods, psychology, and strategy. The result is a game that looks the same and is played with identical rules, but is uniquely Japanese–a mirror of the Japanese soul and mind. “I don’t know whether the Japanese system is better or not,” said Bob Horner, a former Atlanta Brave who played one season with Toyko’s Yakult Swallows. “I just don’t understand it.”
Japan first took to baseball in the late 19th century, when it began importing Western technology, methods, and ideas as part of an all-out effort to catch up to the U.S. and Europe economically. At the time, the Japanese had no team sports; sumo wrestling and martial arts, such as kendo and judo, were their main athletic activities. In fact, no word for “sports” existed in the Japanese language, so they took the English word and made it suppotsu.
The team concept of baseball was perfect for the Japanese, whose society puts the group ahead of the individual. At the same time, the game’s pitcher-versus-batter confrontation retained the one-on-one form of competition the Japanese liked about sumo wrestling and the martial arts.”
~~Sudo, Phil. “Take me out to the Kyujyo.” Scholastic Update 15 Nov. 1991: 20. Academic OneFile. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.
I went to Japan once, and I would like to go again. I would like to learn a bit of the language (I might use the Rocket Languages series for this as I think it’s better than Rosetta Stone and cheaper) before I go. I also think I’m going to try to go to one of their baseball games as I would probably find it hugely entertaining.