This classroom activity is designed to be used in conjunction with the film Kokoyakyu: High School Baseball. In Japan, baseball is not a pastime — it's a national obsession. And for many of the country's youth, the sport has become a rite of passage, epitomized by the national high school baseball tournament known simply as "Koshien." Four thousand teams enter, but only 49 are chosen to compete in the championship that grips the nation for two weeks every August. Like the film, this classroom activity looks at sport to reveal some interesting aspects of Japanese culture.
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- Ask students to take a still or video camera to a school sporting event (ideally a baseball game) to "capture" the experience. Back in class, divide students into groups and explain that sports can be seen as an expression of culture and a transmitter of values. Have them share their pictures or video with members of their group and ask them to discuss what about American culture was expressed at the documented event? What American values are conveyed through such experiences?
- Then, show them Kokoyakyu,* the 52-minute film about Japanese high school baseball, or have them read an excerpt from Robert Whiting's "The Concept of Wa," reprinted on this website. Based on what they have seen or read, what can be learned about Japanese culture from the way baseball is played in Japan? What values are transmitted? Have students use examples from their pictures or video and from the film or book excerpt to compare and contrast Japanese and American culture.
For additional resources related to Japanese baseball, please see the "Delve Deeper" reading list (PDF) produced in collaboration with the American Library Association for this film.
Baseball in Japan
Access a list of websites related to high school, pro yakyu (pro baseball), and articles about famous Japanese ballplayers on U.S. teams, particularly Matsui and Ichiro.
Koshien and Youth Baseball
Links to stats and information about Koshien Stadium and the annual high school championship.
PBS & NPR
Links to PBS programs and NPR news stories about baseball, the 2006 World Baseball Classic (what some would argue is the real world series — Japan won), Japanese baseball players playing in the U.S. and more.
These standards are drawn from "Content Knowledge," a compilation of content standards and benchmarks for K-12 curriculum by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning).
Standard 6: Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
Standard 10: Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.