MLB popularity at all-time high in Japan
Japan Today -- Apr 18
Just over a year ago, the Japanese press was agog with stories of their "national treasure," Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, going overseas to play baseball in the U.S. While bemoaning the loss of a homegrown star, there was also a hint of pride in Matsuzaka's ability to compete in the MLB.

Starting with the pitcher's initial decision to head to America, and continuing through his season with the Boston Red Sox and, of course, through the World Series championship, the press came forth with a frenzied avalanche of coverage. Magazines even devoted cover stories to Matsuzaka's semi-mythical "gyroball," which the pitcher may or may not throw.

But has all this attention signified an increased interest by the Japanese public in the MLB, or is it another cult of personality, which the Japanese - and, to be sure, the Americans - love so well?

The truth is, the steady flow of star Japanese ball players to the U.S. has been a major factor in the recent success of American baseball, and has led to unprecedented cooperation between the two countries' leagues. This year, for just the second time, MLB will start its season in Japan, when the Red Sox take on the Oakland Athletics later this month at Tokyo Dome. Yet unlike the first time MLB regular season games were played in Japan (the New York Yankees took on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004), there are two teams which look to contend in the post season, one of which is the current World Series champions.

News source: Japan Today
May 27
A giant deepwater shark known as a megamouth has been found alive in a fishing net in the Pacific Ocean off Mie Prefecture, western Japan. (NHK)
May 27
Japanese elementary schools will be eligible to start English education in the third grade from fiscal 2018, instead of the fifth grade as now, the education ministry said Friday. (Japan Today)
May 27
A former juvenile prison in the city of Nara in western Japan, built in 1908 and designated as an important cultural asset, will be converted into a hotel, the Justice Ministry said Friday. (Jiji)
May 27
Leaders of the Group of Seven major industrial nations on Friday demonstrated their unity in the fight against terrorism, at their summit meeting in Taormina, Sicily, southern Italy, that started the same day for a two-day run. (Jiji)
May 26
A pair of melons produced in the northern city of Yubari, Hokkaido, sold for 1.5 million yen in the first auction of this harvest season on Friday. (Japan Today)
May 26
Outdoor theme park Legoland Japan on Thursday started selling one-day family tickets that offer discounts of up to 25 percent in response to complaints about higher fees compared with other parks. (Japan Times)
May 26
Pizza giant Domino's will take full control of its rapidly expanding Japanese operations, after its minority partner, private equity firm Bain Capital, announced it would pull the plug on its 25 per cent stake in August. (smh.com.au)
May 26
An elderly man was arrested Friday on suspicion of starting a fire on seat aboard a shinkansen that was traveling through Okayama Prefecture, police and the train operator said. (Japan Times)
May 26
Tokyo police arrested a 21-year-old man on Thursday night for taking a woman, 55, hostage at her condominium in the Asakusa district of the Japanese capital's Taito Ward and inflicting injuries on the captive with a knife. (Jiji)
May 26
Airbnb has joined hands with staffing company Pasona to train people in Japan to support the U.S. company's signature business of offering private homes as lodging for travelers -- a practice known as minpaku here. (Nikkei)