Unbelievable Japan – Yakyu


Today’s topic is about “Yakyu”.

Japanese baseball, known as “yakyu,” shares its roots with American baseball but has evolved independently, resulting in some distinctive differences in gameplay and culture. Here are some key contrasts:

[1] History

Baseball was introduced to Japan in the late 19th century, during the Meiji era, by American educators and immigrants. It became a symbol of modernization and Western influence in Japan, and it quickly gained popularity in terms of educational, work ethic, dicipline/teamwork, sportsman ship and respect.

[2] Culture

Baseball has become not only just a sport in Japan, but also a cultural phenomenon. Professional players often attain celebrity status and are revered by fans. The sport is an essential part of Japanese identity. The most remarkable thing is the national high school baseball tournaments like Koshien being major events and professional players often becoming national icons.

[3] Play style

  1. Speed and Defense: Strong emphasis on speed and defense. Pitchers often focus on control and deception rather than sheer power. Baserunning and fielding are key components, and players are trained for agility and precision.
  2. Small Ball: Embraces the “small ball” approach, prioritizing tactics like bunting, hit-and-run plays, and sacrifice bunts to advance runners and manufacture runs. These strategies are used more frequently than in American baseball.
  3. Bat Control: Exceptional bat control, allowing them to hit to all fields, make contact in various situations, and execute hit-and-run plays effectively.
  4. Pitching Style: Emphasized control, accuracy, and the ability to change speeds. The “gyroball” and various breaking pitches are distinct features of Japanese pitching.

[4] Ballpark atmosphere

Japanese ballparks emphasize cleanliness, order, and fan engagement. There is a strong focus on fan participation, with organized chants and songs for each player. Japanese ballparks are family-friendly, and food offerings often include a wide variety of Japanese dishes and unique snacks.

Japanese baseball fans are known for their enthusiastic and vocal support of their teams and individual player. They participate in organized chants and songs led by professional cheering squads throughout the game, often with trumpets, drums, and other musical instruments. These cheering squads play a crucial role in creating an energetic atmosphere in the ballpark. Fans often wear team-specific merchandise, including jerseys and caps, and wave team flags to show their allegiance.

[5] Other difference from American baseball:

Although there is no seventh-inning stretch, where fans sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and the playing of “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park in Boston, there is Japanese version of break called “Lucky seven” where the teams’ song go on.

Japan has a collectivist culture where group harmony and unity are highly valued. The organized cheering in Japan reflects this collective spirit. In contrast, the United States has a more individualistic culture, and have the freedom to watch and experience the game in a way that suits their personal preferences, whether that involves enthusiastic cheering or a quieter approach (relaxation and enjoyment).

[6] Summary

Overall, the difference in Japanese Yakyu and Amerian Baseball reflects the unique cultural norms, historical development, and social dynamics of each country. These factors have shaped the distinct Japanese Yakyu and American Baseball, adding to the richness and diversity of the sport’s global appeal.

That’s all for the today’s topic. I hope this would help you understand what is going on in Japan.


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