SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Manabu Mimuro works for the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper. He is based in Los Angeles and works Shimbun’s bureau there. Manabu was the only member of the Japanese media to attend the Jalisco bracket in the World Baseball Classic, and like us, moved on to San Diego for round two. While there are several more Japanese media representatives here, we continue to be the only European media not affiliated with a team.
Manabu and I bonded over our shared non-Latin backgrounds and translation difficulties on each of our first trip to México. During the first inning of the Dominican Republic-Venzuela game, we talked about baseball in Mexico versus Japan.
Gabriel Fidler: What did you think of the food in Mexico?
Manabu Mimuro: I really enjoyed it all. I ate a lot of tacos, which were good.
GF: I really liked the spicy sliced vegetables (cucumber and jicama with lime juice and tajín).
MM: Me too! They treated us really well there.
GF: Were you surprised they had sushi?
NB: We had sushi delivered to us twice in the press box in Guadalajara, made on site at Charros Stadium.
MM: Very surprised. But I had never had cream cheese in sushi before. In Japan, no sushi has cream cheese.
GF: Oh, I had no idea! In the U.S., it is very common.
MM: Did you play baseball when you were little?
GF: I did. I learned it after I moved to America when I was older, but I actually still play!
MM: Oh wow!
GF: I founded my university team, Durham University [points to team logo on jacket].
MM, surprised: Okay, very good!
GF: I play outfield and am learning to pitch. Where did you play?
MM: I played pitcher and first base.
GF: Did you play in high school?
MM: No, only when I was young.
GF: I would love to go to the Kōshien Tournament (Japanese High School Baseball Championship) one day.
MM: It is great! Whole towns go to Kōshien to support their team.
GF: It has a certain aura that no other high school tournament does.
MM: It does. Teams from as far as Hokkaido have to take a ferry and drive 30 hours to get there!
GF: If you will forgive me using the stereotype, Caribbean people are known as being more passionate every day, and Japanese are known for being more reserved, but during baseball games are much more noisy. Why do you think that is?
MM: We cannot express their passion [normally]. We have passion all the time, but we cannot show it. But watching baseball, we can let our passion show. In the stadium, we change our face. We have stress in normal world, but at baseball we can let our stress go.
GF: I would love to cover a round in Tokyo in 2021 and see all the fans chanting and singing.
MM: I think that there will be maybe 20,000 Japanese fans in Los Angeles for the finals.
GF: Oh wow, that is more than I expected.
MM: There are about 10,000 already living in L.A. that will come, and the rest from Japan, so you should get to see them!
Japan plays on March 21 in Dodger Stadium against the runner-up of Pool E, and Extra Innings UK will be there will live coverage @extrainnings_bb.
Interestingly, Manubu says that he is not allowed to use Twitter for his job because “Our readers pay to read our newspaper, and we are expected to only write for them. Also, it is possible to be misunderstood on Twitter. [We both laugh.] Maybe this philosophy will change one day, but for now it is like this.”