This year's opening ceremony at the 84th National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament was an emotional event for both players and survivors of last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The tourney opened Wednesday at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, with a march of players from 32 schools, a regular opening event that was canceled last year in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
After the march around the stadium to the hit song "Everyday--katyusha" by the pop group AKB48, last year's winning school returned a championship flag to the organizer.
Then, Shoto Abe, captain of the Ishinomaki Technical High School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, pledged fair play on behalf of the participants.
Abe's school was hit hard by the tsunami that followed the quake, as were many residents and other buildings in the prefecture.
"Through our play, let's move people, display courage and make people smile," he said. "Let's show Japan's fundamental power and human bonds."
Before the first game, students of Mie High School in Mie Prefecture in the bleachers along the baselines formed kanji reading, "Kizuna" (human bonds) and "Kokoro Hitotsu (One heart)" with the colored costumes they were wearing.
Cheering with musical instruments, which was banned last year in consideration of the region hit by the disaster, was allowed this year.
The government of Japan has bestowed one of that nation's highest honors on a Japanese-American, a former U.S. Soldier and World War II veteran, for his work furthering relationships between the Japanese and Americans. (army.mil )
This Monday, members of the seminal metal band X Japan were in Odaiba rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and AKB48′s Yuko Oshima. The catch? They were all made out of wax. (Japan Times )