The year Kano almost won the pennant
Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 25, 2012
MANY people know of Japan’s National High School Baseball Championship, a single-elimination tournament held every August at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo. The largest amateur sporting event in Japan, it has been held since 1915 and is commonly referred to as Koshien for the park where it is played.
Not as well known, however, is that a team from Taiwan reached the finals in 1931, during the imperial era, and almost won the championship.
That might change soon — the Taiwanese are making a movie about it set for release in 2014, as Dan Bloom reports in the Taipei Times. He explains:
Imperial Japan in those days had colonies in Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria, and teams from those regions were invited to Koshien if they made the grade. But only the Kano team from Taiwan was invited to the all-Japan championships, and not just once, according to Masato Fujishima, a Japanese reporter for the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, but five times. However, it was only the 1931 team that played their hearts out all the way to the Koshien finals.
Other sources say the team was viewed at the time as a symbol of integration because its members included the children of Japanese settlers, aboriginal Taiwanese, and Han Chinese. Their success helped popularize the sport in that country.
On the other hand, Dan tells me that the Koshien appearance came one year after the Wushe massacre, in which a Taiwanese indigenous tribe killed 134 Japanese. That resulted in the Japanese killing about 1,000 of them. Thus, there were still internal tensions on the team. The director of the movie about Kano also directed a movie about the massacre last year.
You can read Dan’s article here.
And you can see a Taiwanese news program feature on the team here, with the bonus of contemporary films and photos. Ain’t the Internet grand?