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Robert Whiting

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Preface

by Robert Whiting (1977)

This is a book about the Japanese people. It is a look at their culture through a game they dearly love - the game of baseball.

At first glance, baseball in Japan appears to be the same as the U.S. version - but it isn't. The Japanese view of life, stressing group identity, cooperation, hard work, respect for age and seniority, and "face" has permeated nearly every aspect of the sport, giving it a distinct character of its own. American players who come to Japan quickly realize they have entered a different world. For some, it is fascinating and exciting; for others, exasperating and occasionally devastating.

Baseball seemed to me the ideal framework from which to approach Japan. It is a business, a game, and a spectator sport; a cross-cultural common denominator people can relate emotionally as well as intellectually. A study of the way the game has been modified to accommodate Japanese social values emphasizes the many differences between East and West.

Names and statistics keep changing. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive record of individual accomplishments. Rather, it focuses on the cultural pressures that shape individual attitudes and performance.

I have attempted to present an objective picture of Japan. If at times I seem critical, it does not diminish the affection and abiding respect I have for the Japanese. They have given me another way to look at my fellow man.

Robert Whiting
Tokyo, 1977

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