japan

Fables of the River

Swallow…

Just one more cover.

I beat through field-dusted artifacts,

To Sun streets gone.

Your blur, free streaming ahead.


River Legends,

Have hidden speeds.

Body behind it perfect nobody.

Sun mountain just can’t picture.

Faltering behind steaming hand writings.


The field,

Where your chairs fall.

I, body, and all time.

Cuts streets.

A Bull’s post.

Free before slight lines.


See plans behind hidden ears.

Below sweet mountain.

Nobody locks all your culture.

Can’t blur that through more ghosts.


The train,

Breathing before the steaming river.

Cross dry, perfect suns.

All speeds of us,

Cut waves wide open.


By Oyl Miller

From the Land of the Rising Heat

Roki Sasaki.

The next monster of one hundred years.

A spindly 16-year old who was born to hurl a baseball. To throw at blinding speeds. All of his long-limbed body folding and unfolding in proper timing and efficiency, to unleash a sonic boom with the snap of his right wrist. Eliciting oohs-and-ahhs with every blaze of glory. Poor high school hitters, trying to make sense of phenomenal warp speeds—fanning blindly at the gust of baseball wind rushing past them. Failing with the futility of trying to drink soup with a single chopstick. No chance in this world or any other.

It is the stuff of anime or manga lore. A Chosen Boy, rising to national prominence. The Japanese Dream. Gracing the nation’s newspapers. Dominating long segments of airtime on nightly primetime. Triggering the tweets of celebrities. A whole country in rapt attention of Sasaki’s mound exploits. If you’ve been following Japanese baseball for any amount of time, you know the cadence and intensity the country’s mainstream fervor burns with. You’ve experienced the hallowed tones used to speak of these myths who emerge from the depths of Japan. Splashing to the surface fully realized, heaven sent from the mountain top, into the spotlight of Japanese media hysteria. First there was Dice-K, then Darvish, then Ma-kun. All moving along the celestial baseball timeline. Now, here stands Roki Sasaki. Number one in your program. Number one trending topic.

There is an obvious innocence when you see Roki standing on the mound. He’s just doing what he’s done every day of his life. It’s impossible for him to know that the very axis of baseball power now spins around him like a tightly wound slider.

It’s impossible for him to know that a single speeding fastball from his fingertips, topping 100 mph cracks the earth to its very core. That it sends a tremor over land and cyber space. A single Sasaki pitch, in less than a second, travels the world. The smack of the catcher’s glove, mass broadcasting a clear message. Announcing a presence. A baseball Spector. A new man-child has awakened in Japan.

Ready your scouts.

Prepare your fanbases.

Notify your coaches. Ping the redditors. The hype is resonating. Empty your pockets and prepare your best offers. Work on your Japanese etiquette. For soon, baseball innocence will be ready for market. This innate ability is available to be bought and sold. This lively arm is ready to join the arms race immemorial between Yankees and would-be-Yankee-killers. Always just one mystical pitching arm away from tipping the balance of power in the baseball universe.

Roki knows not which chalk line he is drawing nearer every day. His moment of crossing is coming. The final inning change. Until then, the redditors are worm-holing deep into a wikipedia frenzy. The American sportswriters are firing up their mobile word processors. We’ve got a live one here boys. Hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand bloggers cueing up lofty think pieces lauding the modernity of American baseball’s reliance on science, and bashing the archaic ways of Japanese ball that would put young pitcher’s arm in danger through stoic, traditional overwork. For in Japan, pitchers throw everyday without mercy. Without rest. (And in the darkest parts of Japanese baseball, without water.) For here, pitch limits don’t exist and taking a starter out of a game is viewed as a sign of weakness.

Young Roki is sparkling culture shock in the sporting world. The presumptuous and stubborn East versus West debate. Old school versus new school. Wrong versus right. Crystalized through the lens of sport. One of the most rooted in tradition sports. Which has yielded vastly different mentalities and ballplayers on two sides of the world.

Young Roki? He’s just trying to climb to the top of Japanese baseball Mt. Everest. He stands now on a Mt. Fuji peak, ruling Japan, and looking to claim legitimate baseball immortality by powering his team all the way to the Koshien title. To win the national high school baseball tournament. For in Japan, this conquest carries a perpetual cultural royalty. It’s a deep sporting honor on par with rising to national fame during March Madness. Even millionaire Japanese MLB stars, like Dice-K and Darvish still speak in reverent tones about their time at Koshien. Considering it the crowning jewel of their careers. For better or worse, it’s all down hill from the cultural highs of Koshien.

Hence the intense burn. Hence the meteoric pitch counts. Hence the literal embrace of giving everything for the good of your team. It’s an iconic sacrifice that echoes the Japanese love of the collective. The country rallies around, imbuing itself with a self-confirmation of their national identity, holding a mirror up top who they really are, all by living vicariously through young sports stars in the national spotlight. Young icons who leave fleeting but indelible impressions on the psyche of a nation.

And so now, in this moment, the world turns to Roki Sasaki. It turns for Roki. For now he unwittingly shoulders the weight and soul of this island nation. Shoulders that are still developing, that are already capable of unusual feats of diamond magic and of turning the world’s head with the snap of a lethal, embarassment-wreaking breaking ball.

Enter Roki Sasaki.

Naomi Osaka slams reporters who ask her to speak in Japanese with new Nike commercial

Our new Nike commercial for Naomi Osaka was covered by Sora News 24. It’s always nice when your work ends up sparking a conversation. Click here to read original article.

Naomi Osaka slams reporters who ask her to speak in Japanese with new Nike commercial

”Osaka has just one word to say in response to all those annoying questions about her ethnicity and her love of katsudon.

Since winning the Australian Open and the U.S. Open against her idol Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka has taken the top-spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, becoming the first Asian to hold the top spot in either men’s or women’s tennis.

Her success has brought her a lot of attention from the media, particularly in Japan, where her love of katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowls) and her half-Haitian, half-Japanese background remains a solid talking point. And one thing Japanese reporters can’t stop themselves from doing is asking her to answer their questions in Japanese.

After shutting down these reporters in the past, Osaka is now returning to address them and all others like them, with a new commercial for Nike. In the ad, she slams back at all the insensitive and impertinent questions that get served to her during interviews, and has just one word to silence them all.”

Take a look at the ad below:

In the clip, Osaka can be seen on the court, showing off her strong playing style as a volley of questions roll by. There’s “Who’s your biggest rival?”, “Are you a hard court specialist?” and “Do you consider yourself Japanese or American?”

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Then there are a few questions in Japanese, including “What are you going to buy with your prize money?”, “Can you answer in Japanese?” and “Will you eat katsudon again today?”

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How you feel when your love of katsudon comes up every time you’re interviewed.

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Then, at the end of the ad, Osaka turns to the camera and has just one thing to say in response to all those questions.

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In true Nike style, the clip delivers a strong message at the end: “Don’t change yourself. Change the world.”

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It’s a message that fits in nicely with Osaka’s public image, as a woman who continues to do her own thing while drowning out all the stereotypical questions from the media who want to place her in neat, narrow-minded boxes.

And judging from the reaction online in Japan, it’s a message a lot of Japanese people agree with too.

“What a fantastic ad! I hope everyone sees this.”
“Some of the questions in English are annoying but the Japanese questions are even more annoying.”
“Such a great insight into what she has to deal with every day.” 
“Japanese reporters need to watch this ad.”
“The Japanese media need to have more respect for her as an elite sportswoman.”

The Nike ad has definitely got everyone talking, and while it takes a different approach to one of her previous ads for Japanese brand Nissin, it’s definitely a step up from the controversial ad that whitewashed her appearance.

It’ll be interesting to see if this new commercial will have any effect on the types of questions reporters plan to throw at Osaka next time she does a round of interviews. Hopefully they’ll reign in the talk about katsudon and her ethnicity, and focus on her contribution to the world of sport, because as the star tennis player has said in the past, regardless of her dining preferences, background, and language ability, “I’m just me.

(Article by Oona McGee)