High School Baseball

Hi, I am Sora Maeya. Nice to meet you.
I will talk about Koko Yakyu in Japan. Koko Yakyu means high school baseball championship.

Every summer people in Japan get excited at watching Koko Yakyu. The reason why we get excited is that all players playing seriously to be a champion in Japan move us deeply.

There are about 4000 high schools around Japan to participate in this championship. Only 49 prefecture champion teams can play in main tournament. To play in main tournament they need to become a prefecture champion, so playing in main tournament itself is very difficult. So becoming a Koko Yakyu Champion is like players’ dream.

Watching future pro players is one of the reason many people watch Koko Yakyu. Many Major league players like Ichiro Suzuki , Yu Darvish and Hideki Matsui played in Koko Yakyu championship.

If you come to Japan, visit in summer and watch Koko Yakyu. I’m sure that you get excited. And you may be able to watch a future major league baseball super star!!

Resources:

• Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtF6dgTjmVQ

Krieger, D. (August 19, 2011)  Koshien: The most emotional sports tournament in the world: 

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19 responses to “High School Baseball

  1. こうにちわ。Aliciaです。どれくだいがくのさんねんせいです。マレーシアのりゅがくせいです。まえやさん はじめまして。どうぞよろしく。
    In Malaysia baseball is not popular at all, the only place we get to watch baseball competition is from the sports channels. Also, since baseball is not a common nor popular sport in Malaysia, not many people tend to show any interest in it even when it is on television. More sports fans would go for sports like soccer, basketball, badminton, etc.

    I been to Japan and I realize that baseball is one of the most popular sports you guys have. Even baseball players are so well-known in Japan. I saw many posters of the past events being held in stadiums and also in restaurants and shops, they have baseball events running on the television.

    Now that I am in America, I realize that baseball is also quite popular. I hope to go to a baseball event someday. Not sure whether will I like it or not, but hey, it’s worth a shot! =)

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us! ありがとございます。

  2. Amanda Brooke Costigan

    I seriously wish that American sporting events were this highly regarded and emotional. Well, I suppose for a few people they are, but to see a whole crowd of people with tears in their eyes–Now that would be a powerful image. The dedication of those players to practice year round and constantly try to get better is something to be honored. When I think of Japan, I think of dedicated, honorable people. Perhaps it is this honor and dedication that allows the Koko Yakyu to be continually successful. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of spirit that the students and cheerleaders had on the PBS trailer! The fact that the losing team displays good sportsmanship in saying that they gave their all, speaks highly of the Koko Yakyu and Japanese people. Overall, I am really glad to find out about this event and would love to see it if I visited Japan.

  3. When I think about one of Japanese favorite sport I think of baseball. I love that in America baseball is just another sport, but when it comes to baseball in japan it’s a whole nothing level. It’s interesting that in some many high school students are motivated by their experience in baseball. I’ve had the same experience when it came to my high school years in tennis. While watching the YouTube clip I was attracted to the amount of emotion that was displayed during and after the game. I feel like this is something that any and every one can come to love. I can’t wait to experience the game of baseball in Japan. I wonder when Koko Yakyu was invented and what a Japanese summer would be without Koko Yakyu. Is every high school in Japan have a baseball to complete in Koko Yakyu or only in selective schools? I want to know more about someone’s experience preparing for the Koko Yakyu and what it took to win the championship.

    • Dear Kimberly and Amanda:
      Hello. I’m Naoya Hase and I am Backmann-sensei’s counterpart in Japan. I really enjoyed your comments about Maeya Sora’s post. Many thanks!
      Now, I do have a quesiton for both of you. Here at the School of International Studies, I teach a course titled “Language and Culture in North America,” and for the last couple of years, I have focused on the US. We cover many topics and one is American sport, especially baseball. In my understanding and from the literature I read, baseball represents American culture and American spirit. Many metaphors come from baseball. You have places like Cooperstown where Hall of Fame is. In my class we watch “Field of Dreams,” filmed in Iowa! and we try to understand how special baseball is for American people.
      Kimberly and Amanda, do you agree with me or my understanding either wrong or outdated. I hope not!! Waiting for your reply. Thanks!
      Naoya

      • Amanda Brooke Costigan

        Dear Naoya,
        When I think of baseball being played here in the United States, I think of of the song that we learned in kindergarten, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I think you are correct when you say that baseball represents American spirit to us. However, I do not really hear much about baseball anymore because American Football is so much more popular to the American public. That being said, baseball still represents American culture and gives me a feeling of national pride.
        I hope I answered your questions, and if you have anything else you want to know about, just let me know!
        -Amanda

      • Dear Amanda:

        Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it.

        I ‘m gald to hear that I am correct, even though to a lesser extent, it seems.

        I’m looking forward to meeting you next spring. Maybe you can take me out to the ballgame (just kidding!)!!

        Naoya Hase

      • Kimberly Taylor

        Baseball does mean a lot in America. I think it has been more popular in pass years, but it still holds a meaning is Americans hearts. I personal don’t get into baseball, but I have friends whom can’t miss a game!. I think it really comes down to I much you want to invest in a certain sport. Going off what Brooke had said I agree with the fact that football has token over the spot of baseball, but it is still popular with certain people.

  4. Being a big fan of sports, I find it very interesting and rewarding to know that sports can play such a big part in a young person’s life. Koko Yakyu is a great way to teach young people the value of teamwork, diligence, and hard-work.

    It was nice to read about how coaches would deem a game “beautiful” even after a loss; showing that although they did not walk away the victor, the real reward was being able to give the game your best shot and having fun while doing so. Never giving up seems to be the theme that resonates throughout Koko Yakyu, which is an important value that one should carry with them through out their lives.

  5. はじめまして。私はサマンサです。
    No matter how many times I see it, I am always surprised and impressed by Japan’s love of baseball. I think it’s fascinating how many countries come to be associated with a certain sport, and I still can’t quite figure out why it is baseball for the Japanese. Nevertheless, I think that high school baseball and Koshien are great things for players and fans alike. Even though it is a competition, Koshien unifies the nation by hosting representatives of all of Japan’s prefectures. It also acknowledges the hard work the teams have demonstrated in order to participate in the tournament.
    I think that the appeal of Koshien comes from the fact that it is high school boys competing, and not professionals. In my experience, Japanese people often cheer for the “underdog,” and they like to see victory following struggle. Winning with pride and losing with grace are also qualities that Japan values. To see these young men playing purely for their love of the sport and the honor of being in Koshien is heartwarming.

  6. I think in Japan, baseball is not just a sport that people play for fun or for money. It is more than that. I believe that most of the time, Japanese do something because they really love it. The same thing applies to koukou yakyuu. It doesn’t really matter whether you win or lose, as long as a great amount of effort is put into it, one can be proud of their achievement, especially when doing something that they really like and enjoy. In addition to that, I also think that baseball teaches high school students something more than winning. The fact that Ichiro is so humble even though he is very successful is a good example of that. Comparing to other athletes from different type of sports, most of the time I see that they become “less humble” as they become more successful. Like in formula one, I believe that Sebastian Vettel has a better attitude when he is not a world champion. Now, because he is one of the world champions, he is so full of confidence to the point of being cocky. I think it is important to be humble no matter how great of a person you are.

    Baseball is a team sport therefore I believe that it teaches the players the importance of group harmony. To maintain group harmony, one have to think before they act to make sure what they do does not put the team in a bad position. It is important to stay and play as a team if one wishes to win. It is also important to understand that everyone has their own role to play in the team. Also, we talked about this in class, the concept of mono no aware. I think that this concept can be applied towards koukou yakyuu, because youth is something that doesn’t last long, everyone is trying to live it to the fullest so that they will not have any regret, so that they will have a memory that will last for their whole life. In addition to that, there is something that they can only do when they are still young. That is why when they found that something, they will put all of their effort to achieve the best result. Last but not least, I think it is great how these high school students really enjoy baseball. I too hope that I did something exciting and enjoyable that is worth remembering during my high school days because when I try to remember, I realized that there is nothing exciting about my high school days.

  7. はじめまして!僕のなまえはトゥルです。

    Baseball in Japan seems like it’s treated in a manner very much similar to the way Americans treat National Football. However, I think that it’s significant that Japanese cultures revere it at all age levels – particularly in the fact that they’ve got a nationally televised baseball tournament for high school kids. There’s nothing quite like that here. I think that it shows that the Japanese people can honor achievement and hard work at any age, regardless of whether you’re full grown or not. The boys in the Koko Yakyu tournament are required to have teamwork and physical prowess which is equivalent to the effort the professionals put forth and it’s pretty awesome that they receive such publicity for it. Even more significant is the fact that the kids aren’t getting paid like the professionals – they’re in it purely for the honor in either winning, or losing gracefully and knowing that you gave it your best.

    I think that Americans have somewhat of an equivalent in college football. Not all states are huge on it, but the participants still aren’t paid for their hard work and they spend a lot of their lives being carted around the country to compete. It’s a highly publicized event and many people follow it and its championships religiously. However, it lacks the nationalized interest and fervor which Koko Yakyu clearly possesses.

  8. Koko Yakyu is more than just a sport it is a right of passage to the lucky few who make it to koshien. I think because of もののあわれ the japanese like koko yakyu more than professional baseball. Koshien truly shows the fleeting of youth because for most kids it is there one and only shot to stand on the national stage and show their skill. These kids train nonstop and persevere in the face of all hurdles and even when they lose they lose honorably. However i feel the training that these athletes go through might be too intense. I once read an article about koshien and how one team had their pitcher pitch through out the whole game. In america especially in high school this is unheard off because that will ruin any athletes arm and end his chances to go professional. Though i guess it is more in line with Japanese thought that you try as hard as you can in the moment instead of trying to preserve yourself as long as possible for the future. I think that the closest sport in america to koko yakyu in terms of following and reverence would beアメフト. In fact in america I feel baseball is becoming less and less popular at least in terms of what it once was.

  9. I am also very impressed by the great sportsmanship displayed in Koshien. I don’t really follow sports here in America, but I feel we can be less graceful about losing sometimes – and we are also more likely to give up on cheering for a team that is clearly going to lose. I admire the group support that is shown and that people do not abandon their teams, even if they are losing badly. And when teams do lose, I feel they way they handle it is more beneficial than getting angry or blaming the referees – I think people get more out of the game by embracing the experience, regardless whether they win or lose.

    While I don’t know that we have any high school sporting events that are this big, Koshien reminds me a little of being in the state track and field competition in high school. It was a big deal when we qualified to compete in events at the state competition, and even though we usually didn’t place very high, it was great fun and a great experience.

    Since one of the draws of Koshien is to see the future professional baseball players, are there any pro baseball events that are as big as Koshien?

  10. Honestly speaking, I have never seen a baseball game before. Therefore, I can’t even begin to imagine how much physical training, spiritual strength, and dedication it would take to compete in a national competition. Nevertheless, seeing high school boys playing it out on the baseball court, I am absolutely impressed by the emotions expressed by not just the players but the entire audience!

    Another thing that I found very inspiring was that, win or lose, the boys displayed good sportsmanship after the game and promised to work even harder next year. The fact that they are so mature and patient at their age is very admirable. I think that we could all learn a thing or two from these high schoolers, as I know quite a few people double their age that still fail to keep their temper after losing.

  11. I find the concept of high school baseball being as popular as it is really cool. High school sports are essentially ignored in America except by locals who may go and see the occasional game. No one ever spends time actually watching it on TV. That’s why koshien is so cool – the idea of high school baseball players being so popular. It’s also interesting to me that even though baseball is the American national pastime, or whatever, that Japan seems to be way more interested in it than America. I went to see baseball games as a kid and loved it, but most people don’t do that. I’m also curious as to how popular professional sports are in Japan compared to America – is professional baseball just as popular or is it exclusively koshien?

  12. I think the Japanese people’s love of High School Baseball is very similar to how people in the US love college football and college basketball. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that during the NCAA basketball tournament (What we call March Madness, which is a college basketball tournament), college basketball is the most watched sport around the country, even rivaling other professional sports. I think this applies to both the US and Japan, but there’s a certain love that both countries have for watching young athletes give it everything they have knowing this will be the last chance for them to play the sport they love at a high level before they become an adult since most of them won’t be good enough to become pros.

    I think it’s also similar to cherry blossom viewing and mono no aware, in the sense that beauty and youth is fleeting, so you need to treasure it while it lasts. This is the last time the high school boys will get a chance to play in a national baseball tournament at the highest level, since many will not turn pro and will end up becoming a working adult. The emotions the players have during the games are visible to fans and make it easy to see they really care and give it their all. In the US at least, many of the professional players, in all sports, really don’t care too much about the outcomes of games. They’re still getting paid millions of dollars for many many years. But at Koshien, or March Madness, it’s very visible to people watching that these players really do care and are giving their absolute best and it’s very refreshing to watch.

  13. I’m not a huge fan of baseball, so it was interesting reading about the enthusiasm that the Japanese project toward it. Baseball is considered the all-American sport, but there is not as much enthsiasm for it as there is for football – especially for a high school level competition.
    As I was reading through others’ comments, several people made a statement that I really agreed with – the game of baseball in Japan seems to honor the act of playing more than the act of winning. We really don’t have anything like that here in America; the teams that people appreciate here are either liked because of the name/location (like blind appreciation of a team because you’re from the area), or liked for having the most wins. There aren’t a lot of fans that say they like a team because of their hard work or perserverance.
    I think this especially applies with things like heckling and being rude during the sporting events. In several of the articles, it specifically said that the coaches don’t question the referees’ calls, the games’ attendees don’t yell out, and the players themselves stay very respectful toward the game and toward other people participating. Being thankful for just the opportunity to play is very honorable, in my opinion – not everybody can keep their head level, especially when they become more popular.
    This may just be the article author’s personal opinion, but in one of the attached links, the writer talks about how life is about losing, and it’s beautiful in it’s own way. I don’t know how much I agree with that. While an interesting idea, I don’t think living your live in order to lose gracefully is the ultimate goal. Maybe being satisfied with just attempting to reach your dreams, no matter if you get them or not ( I can see that being the case), but not about being a cheery loser… Then again, this is just a perosnal opinion. 🙂

  14. The display of sportsmanship in Japanese culture does not come as a surprise to me, as it seems like something that would come naturally to their very prideful culture. Were teams anything but respectful I feel that it would be looked down upon. In America, at least from my experience as an athlete, we understand sportsmanship and put competition first. Everything is about the win, and if you don’t win a game you need to figure out what went wrong and win the following game. Throughout my career I have never been unwilling to concede to another player that they played better than I. It is my job however directly afterwards to figure out why. Losing is always to be avoided, and this is the point where our cultures conflict. Japan sees losing as an inevitable circumstance that should be carried out as elegantly as possible and always to the end. In our culture, and I believe baseball even has a rule for it, we call the losers as it happens. If someone is down 10 runs they lost and the game is over, its not worth watching anymore.

  15. Baseball is considered being the american pastime and for a lot of people it is. Some of the first games you play with your dad is throwing the ball back and forth, it is one of the most funded and watched sports and everyone seems to root for their home team (even if their team never goes anywhere) but that is all about the professional level, As much as america loves college football we seem to ignore the other college sports, even in high school we only seem to focus on football and only pay attention to the other sports if they are in the champion ships. But that being said little league is still big in America at least in certain towns, my dads team actually made it to the world championships. Also fun fact the two people who wrote “take me out to the ball game” had never been to a baseball game when they wrote it.

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