Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams
Monday, June 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Baseball is life for the die-hard competitors in Koshien, Japan’s national high school baseball championship, whose alumni include current MLB stars Masahiro Tanaka and Shohei Ohtani and World Series champions Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
As popular as MLB’s World Series, the stakes are beyond high in this single-elimination tournament. For Coach Mizutani, cleaning the grounds and greeting guests are equally important as honing baseball skills, as they demonstrate discipline, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication. In the documentary Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams director Ema Ryan Yamazaki follows Mizutani and his team on their quest to win the 100th annual Koshien. In the process, she goes beyond baseball to reveal the heart of the Japanese national character.
This international co-production between Cineric Creative, NHK, and NHK Enterprises had its World Premiere at DOC NYC 2019.
While COVID-19 delayed the start of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan—the season began three months late on June 19—the pandemic cancelled both the spring and summer editions of Koshien. While the screening of Yamazaki’s documentary may provide little solace to the teenagers who had their hearts set on participating in this historic tournament, at least an international audience will be exposed to what the filmmaker describes as “a complicated and emotional story of a cultural phenomenon that is still quite unknown outside of Japan.”
Episode 163 | Koshien is Baseball Version of March Madness
On June 26 Yamazaki appeared on JOMBOY Media’s Talkin’ Baseball podcast to discuss the documentary. She does a deep dive into the culture of Japanese baseball and describes how the tournament turned teenagers into legends.
Curious about Curious George
Yamazaki’s first feature length documentary, Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators, chronicled the lives of Margaret and Hans Augusto Rey, the creators of the world’s favorite monkey. JapanCultureNYC featured the film’s successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016. You can read about it here, and you can learn more about Yamazaki by visiting her website.
Of course, watch Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams on ESPN, especially if you’re missing baseball of any kind, regardless of country affiliation.