Friday, July 28, 2006

Baseball Champs!

The Iwate Prefecture Baseball Tournament has finished. The team from Kitakami Senshu High School has won and the whole city of Kitakami is abuzz. Thursday night there was a festival and all the players wore their uniforms and paraded around town. The shops and public buildings are draped with huge posters and banners for the occasion. Next stop is the National Tournament at Koshien in August.

The Champs!
[Kitakami Senshu High School & Banners around Town]

While many people joke that baseball is a religion it is not taken that way in Japan - especially when it comes to the high school variety. The Church of Perfect Liberty, founded in Japan in 1924, sponsers the most successful high school baseball team in Japan; PL Gakuen of Osaka. They actively recruit players and the best players want to go there. Other Religions such as Tenrikyo recruit high school baseball players to their schools and have been successful in the annual tournaments.

Even when the team is not affiliated with a religious group the community supports their local team with a devotion that can only be considered fanatical. The games are televised and watched by all. The players don't have to study. The entire student body is bused to the games and made to cheer their team on. Of course, with a team like Kitakami Senshu, it's easy and fun to be a supporter!

Good luck at Koshien, guys!

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