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Project Reports

 

 

 

                                          Shin-Asahi’s Japan Tour

Yokohama Opening Ceremony small

by Emiko Ando

Fifteen Shin Asahi players along with twenty-five family members boarded a plane to Tokyo on March 5, 2015.

No one could have prepared us for the attention and hospitality that we received. Our games in Yokohama were entitled the “Yokohama-Vancouver Sister-City 50th Anniversary Commemorative Games”. The ceremony included the Deputy Mayor, one of the movie stars from the Vancouver Asahi film, relatives of players of the original Asahi team, sponsors and the three participating baseball teams all being captured by a line up of TV crew and journalists. After several speeches, endless photo ops and TV interviews, the first game against the Yokohama Minami Boys Club got underway. In spite of the chilly winds, the stands were full. The Shin Asahi played their best but the final score was 5-3 for the hosting team.

During lunch, the three teams found a way to interact through broken language and a friendly round of arm wrestling. Unfortunately, the Shin Asahi team did not fair any better in the second game against the Naka Honmoku Little Senior team with the final score of 8-5. But their new friends heartily cheered them on.

After the double header, there was a joint practice with the three teams and the Shin Asahi got a taste of the drills and intensity of the Japanese teams.

The evening ended with a reunion party with relatives of the original Asahi players. It was amazing how this legendary team connected so many people across an ocean and generations.

On the third day, the team visited a temple where one of the first Asahi pitchers, Teddy Furumoto (father of the author), was laid to rest. The team participated in a Buddhist ceremony to pay their respects. After that, we visited Yokohama’s City Hall. As we entered the building, City staff lined the hallways and stairwells and cheered as we made our way to the boardroom to meet the Mayor of Yokohama. It was an amazing experience but not as surreal as being on a live TV talk show later that evening. In fact, the team was featured on TV four times and in over a dozen newspapers.

The fourth day had another jam-packed schedule starting at the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum located in the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Yokohama facility we called home for five nights.   The Museum displayed the journey of Japanese emigrants around the world and their contributions as well as hardships. It even had a small Vancouver Asahi display. They graciously received our team’s jersey signed by our team and the Japanese players to add to their collection (we also donated a second signed jersey to the BC Sports Hall of Fame).

We then headed to watch the Yokohama Baystars’ farm team game and meet coach, Daisuke Yamashita.

While the team did not win a game in Japan, they won the respect of their fellow competitors and embodied the Asahi spirit of “fair play”. By all accounts, the trip was a huge success. It created friendships and memories that will last a lifetime and laid a strong foundation for the future of the Shin Asahi.

Please check out our website to see video clips and photos of our Japan Tour.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canadian-Nikkei-Youth-Baseball-Club-CNYBC/273216186209523

 

                                          April 2 Friendship Tree Re-dedication

 

Joy Kogawa

The rain threatened but did not release. Instead the sun shone brightly through the clouds as Joy Kogawa reflected on the meanings of her famous words,  “Where there’s a wall there’s a way around, over, or through…a voice cries faint as in a dream from the belly of the wall.”  She explained how this friendship tree, for her, also represents a viable “way around”, for adversaries to make amends, to share both happiness and tears, to break down the walls between us. For their part in reminding us of who we are and who we might become, the St James Music Academy Choir performed, ” We are Here” and a haunting rondo of “Sakura” in the (remarkably) stimulating acoustics of Council Chambers. All were perfect words on a perfect day. (WM)

 

                           March 19 Ready JET-Go gets ready for Yokohama

Dragon boat2

We’ve got good news to report: we’re still on track to send a dragon boat team to Yokohama! We’ve got 20 people who are very interested, and we have begun taking their deposits. We hope that translates to a full team joining up and heading out, but even if we lose a few on the way, we should have enough people to participate with a strong team.

On-the-water practices have started, and our coach is pleased with our progress. Consul General Okada came out yesterday evening, and is scheduled to also attend on Saturday morning. Even though he won’t be able to come to Yokohama, he seems committed to paddling with us as often as he can, which is a great show of support. We’re planning to race in the Dragon Zone ‘Spring Sprint’ race on Sunday, May 3, by which time we should be paddling well and looking good with our team uniforms. (GL)

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