Seibu Lions’s Kaima Taira Breaks NPB Record

Saitama Seibu Lions pitcher Taira Kaima broke a 15-year-old Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB) record with his 39th straight shutout appearance. The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher is from Ishigaki and has also be selected to be on the Japan Olympics baseball team.

Orix Buffaloes Miyagi Hiroya

via Twitter

I wonder if there is any other team in NPB that has as many players from Okinawa that the Orix Buffaloes has. There’s pitcher Higa Motoki (drafted 2nd in 2009), infielder Oshiro Koji (drafted 3rd in 2015), infielder Gibo Sho (drafted 5th in 2018), and then there’s 19-year old pitcher Miyagi Hiroya who was drafted 1st in 2019. He’s currently 5-0 with a 2.32 ERA and he recently picked up his first NPB hit. So he’s definitely one to watch.

The players from Okinawa usually choose a theme song from an Okinawan artist and for Miyagi Hiroya it’s BEGIN’s Sanshin no Hana which I think is very cool. Higa has used a song from MONGOL800 and Oshiro has used a different song from BEGIN.

Follow the Orix Buffaloes on Twitter.

The Man Who Changed Okinawa (Film)

“The Man Who Changed Okinawa (Okinawa wo Kaeta Otoko)”

We don’t get a lot of films from Okinawa so if you see on whether at a festival or on a streaming site, we must watch it! A film that’s currently available on Amazon Prime is The Man Who Changed Okinawa starring Garage Sale’s Gori who we recently featured on Karakui.

Here’s the synopsis via Geta Films:

This is based on a true story about a coach of a high school baseball team who’d like to change people’s mind in Okinawa through baseball. Hiroyoshi Sai is assigned as a coach to the baseball team at Ryukyu Fisheries high school. The baseball team members are welcome the arrival of the capable coach Sai, but he recruits skillful players for next freshmen from all over Okinawa.

His target is just to win the National High School Baseball Championship, called “Koshien” in up-coming couple of years. However, teachers and students around the school get suspicious about his way of coaching with an iron fist.

Nonetheless, his belief never shakes and his team grabs the right to participate in the championship with various difficulties.

Directed by Kishimoto Tsukasa, the film was a hit in Okinawa if going by ticket sales, and garnered enough attention to be English-subtitled and streamed outside of Japan. It’s also one of the few films from Okinawa with an Okinawan director and main actor. If you are able to watch the entire film (you can search for reviews of the film in English and in Japanese to see why it may be difficult to do so), and you have an understanding of Ryukyu, how did it make you feel? Personally, I feel that the beginning of the film as well as the first scene in the bar pitting Gori agains the other teachers sums up the reality of being Okinawan and their desire to show their strong will despite the human costs. The title of the film itself is interesting because it leaves out whether Coach Sai changed Okinawa for the better or for the worse and leaves it to the viewer to decide.

Ryukyu Blue Oceans Baseball Team

via Campfire

Did you know that Okinawa has several professional sports teams? Today we’re highlighting Okinawa’s professional baseball team, Ryukyu Blue Oceans. Formed in 2019 and active from 2020, the team features several players from Okinawa and is headquartered in Ginowan City. They have three home fields: Ginowan, Urasoe, and Miyako-jima. Pro baseball makes a lot of sense in Okinawa as there are many fans of the sport (as most recently evidenced by the large amount of social media support for Gushikawa Commercial High School making it to the spring Koshien) and many NPB teams hold spring training camps in Okinawa. One of the team’s goals is to join the NPB when it expands its cap on new teams (from 12 to 16).

Ryukyu Blue Oceans have currently started a crowdfunding project on Campfire with one of the rewards being the amazing game cap pictured above (unfortunately, it seems to be only available domestically).

Follow Ryukyu Blue Oceans on Twitter.