From Round to Square (and back)

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Besuboru Guy—Meiji Borrowed Baseball

Click here for the "Celebrity Commentary" Resource Center—(all posts available)
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This is a "small" (小) post—click here for an explanation of Round and Square post lengths.
***  *** 
One year ago on Round and Square (6 June 2012)—The Accidental Ethnographer: Thursday/Friday Islands
Two years ago on Round and Square (6 June 2011)—Living and Learning: Mockery By Mencius

[a] Individual and Society RF
可飛ばせ, 内田!
Let 'er rip, Uchida!  OR
Fly to base, Uchida!
—Common Japanese baseball chant
(Tanaka is a common surname, like "Olson")
And baseballs began to rip (and players to fly to base) in the 1880s in Japan.
[b] UChicago-Waseda 1911 RF

This is not chance. I am not exaggerating (let me catch my breath, since my teammates have been tossing me into the air) to say that this could not have happened in the 1780s.

Oh, you doubt me? You just don't know enough about Japanese history, then (だよ).

[c] New York, Independence Day Parade RF
We don't have enough time to delve into the Tokugawa order that dominated Japan until the mid-1860s. Suffice it to say that it was as "closed" a system—and resistant to outside influence.

That changed in profound ways after 1868, when the Meiji Emperor and his advisers moved aggressively to borrow from other societies. Neither relative isolation nor large-scale borrowing was new in Japan.

And part of that borrowing included baseball. Players who enjoyed baseball in their studies in the United States began Japan's first, fledgling baseball teams. The Yokohama Athletic Club was quickly followed by Waseda University, and baseball began to take hold.

And (as we have already seen), borrowing doesn't mean identical results. 
There is much more to consider from here (including cute mascots and raw seafood at the concession stands). 可愛い(です)!

[If you don't read Japanese, but want to have some sense of the Japanese kana and kanji in these posts, just copy the phrases and paste them into translation software such as Babylon or Google Translate].
[d] Identical? RF
[Originally posted on August 6, 2014]

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