Baseball has been a national sport in Japan for quite a bit of time. We used to have “the baseball boys” who had practiced since middle school and dreamed that someday they would become professional players. But now football or soccer has replaced the baseball and there are those “soccer boys” who have practiced soccer for ten years and hope that someday that by playing soccer they will be popular among girls.
It is not an irrational hope, since one of the reasons why soccer has became popular is that there are more good-looking boys in soccer games than baseball games. Well, the major reason is that Japan did very well in the World Cup a few years ago and those “national heroes” impressive performances moved most of Japanese and brought up a soccer boom.
On the other hand, the national baseball team was doing alright in the worldwide games, so it was kicked to be an old fashion sport by the youth. I think this is pretty much true with many counties, that the national sport for one country is the sport which well-advertises the country’s name for worldwide attention.
So, sadly some excellent Japanese baseball players went to the US to get better pay or enjoy the better competition, since the baseball market in the US is still big. Then they got famous in the US, such as Ichiro. They became “the national pride” of Japan and they brought up the value of baseball. Baseball became popular again for a while because of the good performance or Ichiro and other baseball players in the US.
However, they could not keep this popularity up for too long and soccer is still stepping up on baseball.
Golf, figure-skating, and skiing sometimes jump in this competition between baseball and soccer, but none of them have made a remarkable replacement on the throne of our national sport.
I thought it was funny when figure skating became popular due to Asada Mao’s excellent performance in Olympics. The “beauty sports” suddenly had a boom. Mentioning “beauty sports,” I want to say that it is a sport which has beautiful female players. Beach volleyball got attention at that time was because of the “figure skating effect.” My father was very happy about that.
American football has never been popular in Japan, but it does not mean Japanese does not like violent sports. Wrestling has always kept quite a lot of attention from people in Japan.
Towards the end, I would like to introduce one player who I think became famous for a ridiculous reason.
Saitou Yuki is a baseball player who became famous because he uses his handkerchief during the game The way he uses the handkerchief is just so elegant, at least elegant enough make him gain fan group of old ladies. Thus, he is called “the Handkerchief Prince.”
Don’t believe that? Let me show you how elegant he is from a different angle:
and this what the picture which was used in a newspaper looked like!