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You Gotta Have Wa Paperback – March 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
The "wa" one must have is the group harmony that is the essence of Japanese baseball. According to PW , "this interesting comparative study of the sport as it is played on both sides of the Pacific concentrates on the American stars who have gone to play in Japan." Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
"Wa," Japanese for "team spirit," is the creed of Japanese baseball, played since the 1850s and professionally since 1935. Whiting, a long-time Japan resident, concentrates on the two pro leagues. The Japanese leagues, he reports, believe their severely coached game to be superior to the U.S. game. They discourage Japanese from entering U.S. leagues. A few Americans, usually older ones, have been accepted on Japanese teams, but they meet with resentment, criticism, and discrimination. The book updates Whiting's earlier The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (LJ 10/1/76) and contrasts with Sadaharu Oh and David Falkner's Sadaharu Oh (LJ 6/1/84; o.p.). A revealing and disturbing account that is heartily recommended for adult and YA collections.
- Morey Berger, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I would say that given what I was looking for, I was definitely satisfied with what I read. I came away with a lot to say. I took Japanese in high school and have looked at a few other books about Japan, and it fit in with those. And then I watched Mr. Baseball, which was largely taken from this. Now THAT is laugh-out-loud funny!
As portrayed in "You Gotta Have Wa", there are some very significant differences in baseball as played in the United States and Japan. Japanese baseball apparently draws upon the martial arts and samurai warrior tradition in Japan. The culture and work ethic of a Japanese baseball team, whether at the high school, college or professional level, is a product of the hard-working, self-sacrificing, master/pupil culture of the Japanese people. The most interesting aspect of "You Gotta Have Wa" is how it uses Japanese baseball to illustrate aspects of Japanese culture. "You Gotta Have Wa" should appeal to more than just baseball fans - it also should appeal to readers interested in modern-day Japanese culture.
My only complaint about "You Gotta Have Wa" is that I was hoping the book would be a bit more in-depth and slightly less sensational. The chapters read like a series of magazine articles, and I have a hard time believing that the Japanese fans are quite as fanatical as portrayed in the book, or the coaches as demanding. I suspect Robert Whiting exaggerated a bit for maximum effect. The book also could have benefited from an index, as the chapters are organized by topic, and many players and story lines appear in multiple chapters - hence an index would have helped the reader chase down everything about a particular player or incident.
Those minor flaws aside, "You Gotta Have Wa" is definitely worth reading if you at all interested in Japanese baseball or Japanese culture.
The book goes through both a history of baseball in Japan, as well as challenges American's deal with over there. It covers the trials and tribulations of Americans like Bob Horner, who thrive on the diamond, but struggle off the field. It covers the adverserial relationship between Japanese coaches and their foreign (Gai-jin) charges. Any American going to work in Japan is well advised to pay attention!
How is Japan changing over time? Compare how the approval of "different" antics of foreigners changes over time. Learn how some Japanese players follow the model, but as the exception and not the rule. Is the Japanese culture changing, or a surface appearance of change part of the Japanese character? Read the book to find out. Again, it's only about baseball on the surface.
How does training differ? The American model suggests individuals can improve, but only to the limit of their ability. The Japanese model in both the field and the office is that there is no limit - strength and success is limited only by effort. This drive leads to a 10-11 month season counting training camp, as well as several hours of strenuous exercizes every day before practice. This is essential to developing the fighting spirit. Again, someone travelling to Japan for business is well advised to understand this.
The book is a must for baseball lovers as well as people interested in learning more about Japan. The book is a fascinating work that hides great learning behind Japan under the story of America's pastime.