Highlighting JAPAN Vol.121 June 2018
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234Japanese fans are particularly passionate about the summer classic. “A big factor is that the summer tournament features one representative school from each prefecture playing in a one-shot tournament,” Takenaka notes. “The third-year students take their last stand before leaving the team for graduation, and they play with their backs to the wall and put their souls into every play. This gives rise to unpredictable drama, such as when an underdog public school defeats an elite private one.prominence of other sports, however, have created a strong sense of unease. “One of our awareness projects under the ‘200-Year Plan of High School Baseball’ involves “Incidentally,” he adds, “many of the stars of Japan’s professional baseball league and the U.S. Major Leagues played at Koshien, and it was the first time many of them drew national attention. This is another reason for the tournament’s popularity.”Japan’s plummeting birthrate and the growing cooperating with the coaches and players from each school that participated in both past and present spring and summer tournaments. We started an event this year to give young elementary school students a chance to experience baseball,” Takenaka says. “We hope the seeds we are planting now will someday bear fruit.”“Koshien” is not just the nickname of the national high school baseball tournament. Various other high school tournaments and events now incorporate the name, acknowledging its power, giving rise to the anime Koshien, sweets Koshien, dance Koshien, theater Koshien, and so on.The 2018 summer tournament will be the centennial competition, and fifty-six schools from around the country—the largest number in history—will come to engage in fierce battle. No doubt the emotional voltage of the archipelago will rise higher than it ever has before. A pivotal play at the high school baseball tournament1 2 Hanshin Koshien Stadium was built in 19243 During the high school games Koshien Stadium is filled to the brim with fansThe players from the winning team joyfully run to greet their supporters in the stands4 15

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