Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

High town, low town

October 26, 2009

The modernity as well as the occasional indifference to change in Japan bookmarked my week, with both moments anchored in the countryside about one hour from Tokyo.

On Monday in a rice field converted into a school parking lot, a 6-year-old, Boston Red Sox cap-wearing Japanese youngster stormed my way. We had chatted in the past, although our last conversation consisted of “Chase me!”

BASEBALL/Today it was all business: “The Red Sox came in second, but Daisuke Matuszaka didn’t pitch for them in the play-offs,” he said, adding that Dice-K had hurt his arm during the regular season.

“Yes, they lost before he had his chance,” I said. “The Red Sox actually have four Japanese pitchers.”

“Four,” he noted. “But not Hideo Nomo – he retired after pitching for the Dodgers, right?”

“Yes, but he did pitch for the Red Sox in 2001.”

“The Yankees are the best team now,” he told me, saying he had decided this after watching MLB games on satellite TV with his grandfather. “Alex Rodriguez is amazing.”

“What’s the name of Boston’s stadium?” he asked, and on hearing Fenway Park, replied: “Babe Ruth played there? And the left-field wall is really high?”

“Yes, they call it the Green Monster,” I nodded with growing amazement at how small the world had become. “Babe Ruth was a pitcher there initially before joining the Yankees.”

“You shouldn’t throw curves or sliders in elementary school,” he concluded, and the future ESPN analyst left the rural field of dreams in a cloud of smoke.

Ending the week was an express train ride to Tokyo in a car full of farmers, who appeared to make it to ancient Edo once every new emperor. Dressed in their best Munsingwear and turning the seats to face each other unlike other commuters, one man took pictures of Tokyo Disneyland as we sped past.TEPCO/

The crowning moment was when one gentleman could not exit the car because he was unfamiliar with the automatic door function, trying desperately to pull it open until turning to me for help.

We were not far from his home, but it was more a matter of milennia than miles.

Photo credits: REUTERS/Adam Hunger (top); REUTERS/Toru Hanai (bottom)

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