54 Documenting the Intense World of Japanese High School Baseball (Ema Ryan Yamazaki)


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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, documentary filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki discusses being inspired by Ichiro Suzuki and her latest documentary Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams.

About Ema Ryan Yamazaki

Ema Ryan Yamazaki is a documentary filmmaker who has worked on several Japan-related projects. Her most recent feature-length documentary is titled Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams and focuses on the wildly popular National High School Baseball Championship (全国高等学校野球選手権大会, Zenkoku Kōtō Gakkō Yakyū Senshuken), popularly referred to as "Summer Koshien" (夏の甲子園, Natsu no Kōshien).

Topics Discussed
  • About growing up in Nishinomiya near Koshien Stadium
  • The #dearICHIRO documentary series
  • Being inspired by Ichiro Suzuki
  • How Ema Ryan Yamazaki became interested in filmaking
  • The success of Ichiro Suzuki and how he captured the imagination and attention of so many people in Japan and the United States
  • Ichiro Suzuki's time playing with the Miami Marlins
  • Deciding to go to university in New York
  • How it was that Ema decided to focus on Japan-related projects
  • How living abroad helped Ema better understand Japan and how it is perceived by people outside of Japan
  • The emotionally riveting and exciting nature of the Koshien summer high school baseball championship
  • How it was that the Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams project began
  • Using the Koshien high school baseball tournament as a way to look back on a hundred years of Japan's history and how Japanese society has changed
  • The challenges Ema faced when producing Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams and how working with NHK helped make the film possible
  • Coach Fumiya Tsuta and his impressive record of victories at Koshien
  • Viewing baseball as a martial art
  • The early history of baseball in Japan
  • How baseball is strongly tied to education in Japan
  • Whether the strict culture found in the world of high school baseball in Japan should be rethought
  • Why Ema decided to have Coach Mizutani of Yokohama Hayato High School be a main focus of Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams
  • The all-consuming nature of work culture in Japan
  • The idea of gaman (perseverence) and whether it is necessary in contemporary Japan
  • The importance of thinking about which rules and societal norms are necessary and which are not
  • Coming to terms with being mixed race/half Japanese in Japan
  • How the coronavirus pandemic affected the release of Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams and the Koshien summer high school baseball championship
  • How it was that Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams got to air on ESPN and in theaters across Japan
  • Getting to reunite with some of the subjects of Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams in 2020
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

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Links, Videos, Etc.

To watch Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams, use the link below. It will premiere on November 20th, 2020.

For information on Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams, visit the film's Facebook page.

For more information on the #dearICHIRO documentary series, visit the link below.

For more information on Ema's body of work, visit her website via the link below.

Check out the latest episode of Ichimon Japan via the link below.

If you would like to check out the Kimito Designs shop, then use the link below.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Ema Ryan Yamazaki

Featured image: Courtesy of Ema Ryan Yamazaki

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