Japanese Summer Event, Koushien – Koukou Yakyu
How was your summer holiday? Mine ended with food poisoning, great. Well at least I´ve survived. Now my favorite season, autumn comes. Before that, a little bit of summer yet. (Editor)
– Heated. Koushien! (熱闘、甲子園) – by Natsuko Nakabayashi
The most important events in the summer in Japan are hanabi (花火/ fireworks), suika (スイカ/ watermelons), yukata (浴衣), visiting cemetery in obon … and Koushien (甲子園)!
Since the game is held in Koushien Baseball Stadium (甲子園球場) in Osaka (大阪), and this is the Mecca for all baseball kids in Japan.
This summer again, 47 high schools who won the local tournament came to Koushien and played exciting games. The video is from this summer´s tournament.
All schools and all players are very serious about it. Each ball they throw and hit can be extremely important. Because this is a tournament. One mistake leads a loss. Especially the third grade players, this game is the last game, when they lose, that´s when they retire.
Most of Japanese people are touched by their play. Because these 17, 18 year old young boys are on the ground with so many things on their back ; all the effort made during the year, friendship, teamwork, hope for the future, the tradition and other teammate who weren´t selected…
The high school I graduated isn´t the best in the prefecture and usually they lose at the first game. Actually it´s hopeless. Even that we never stop supporting them hoping that one day they win. It´s our clemency…
Now, Shin-Minato (新湊) high school is the this year´s winner in our minor prefecture which won for the first time after 12 years and was their fifth time to be selected. Because of the matching, they skipped the first round and began with the second. Unfortunately, the opponent was one of the most experienced and powerful team, Ryuukoku University Heian High School (龍谷大平安高校) which has the most experienced player at Koushien, 67 times in the past.
It´s not the question of winning, “it´d be terrible and miserable game”, that was what we thought.
Contrary to our worry, the players of Shin-Minato looked enjoying playing. There were more people than the local summer festivals in the stands to see the game and it was a particularly hot day so hot that the sweat coming down just standing and you could faint easily. And all this couldn´t be any pressure for the players, well at least they didn´t seem to be for us.
The pitcher of Shin-Minatoi had a hard time by not getting a strike zone and giving many base on balls to Ryuukoku. There were many crunch moments but luckily, they have a really good back. With their defense, good batting and good run, they played really well.
Of course the pitcher of Ryuukoku was too good to defeat, however, Shin-Minato never gave up and never lost their hope.
I learnt from them that the chance always comes to you.
What a surprise, we won at 4-1! In our local area, an extra edition was issued and the shops on the high street had a sale for the celebration. You can imagine how happy we were because it was only the first match.
The dreamy moment goes away quickly. Shin-Minato lost the next game, just like that… I couldn´t see the game and I wonder if the boys picked some sand of Koushien Stadium crying. Oh, it´s a tradition that the lost team always take some sand away home as a good memory, and usually some cry…
A commentator once said this on the telly
“The highest mountain in Japan is Mt. Fuji (富士山) and the lowest mountain must be the pitcher´s mound of Koushien. It´s only a 25.4 cm mountain but it´s one of the most difficult mountain to conquer.”
I think he made a point. All Japanese baseball kids came through the tough way to Koushien then continue to climb another mountain-tournament. Only one high school can reach the top and the rest are unseated.
Those who couldn´t achieve the top can get nothing? No, on the contrary, they must have a lot of things in them even though they don´t see it until many years later.
Single-hearted, sincere and the passion for baseball. All of these you can feel it through the TV monitor. It´s contagious. And this year´s winning team was Nichi-Dai San Kou (日大三高). Omedetou!!
By the way, when that earthquake happened on the 11th of March this spring, most of the sports events were just about to start the season and decided to postpone or even cancelled the game.
However, high school baseball spring tournament had decided to open. I think this was the great decision. The organisers knew exactly the effect of the positive vibe from the high school baseball players.
The pledge of fair play made at the beginning of the tournament was said to be brilliant and cheered up entire Japan which was dipped in a total sadness and tiredness.
Here is the video from the opening ceremony.
All the players participated this year´s tournament had a “ganbarou Nihon (Bear up Japan)” sticker on their helmets.
Here I translated more or less the pledge of fair play.
“Pledge, we were born 16 years ago, in the same year when the Great Hanshin Earthqueke (阪神淡路大震災) happened. Now with the Touhoku earthquake (東日本大震災) and tsunami, we lost loads of people and our hearts are hurting. In the most affected area, people are working so hard to make things better.
I believe that we can solve many problems however hard it is by helping each other. And what we can do for them at the moment is to play this tournament well.
I pledge here that we thank for being alive healthy and we play fair by giving all our best.