|I receive occasional mail from players who would like to take a shot at a job with a ballclub in Japan. While it is true that I know some scouts and a couple of agents who have placed players over there, I'm doing this site for fun and don't really want to become involved in the politics of player movement. Consequently, if I deign to submit your name to one of my acquaintances in the baseball sphere after I've checked you out, I don't really want any real further involvement other than hearing how your workout for the scout or agent went and whether they are going to attempt to place you. That is just to satisfy my curiosty more than anything else. I'm not looking for a payday or to become part of your entourage.|
Before You Write Me, Have the Following Info Ready
| Any Japanese ballclub is going to want
this anyway, so you may as well put a resume together detailing who you
are and what your background is. So here is what I want to know when you
1. Your real name. If you don't want the organization you are with to know that you are looking for a position elsewhere, I will defend that confidence. But you have to let me know. If you write me under an assumed name, I will delete your message since I have no way of researching you otherwise. I also need to know your height, weight and true age.
2. What you bring to the table abilitywise. If you are a pitcher, what is your velocity and repetoire like, what kind of approach do you use (in other words, are you a power pitcher, a Greg Maddux-type who shaves the corners or looks to keep the ball off the fat part of the bat, or a Jamie Moyer type who aims to mess up the hitter's timing)? If you are an offensive player, what tools do you have, what is your time to first base and how are you defensively? What positions have you had experience playing and what positions are you most comfortable playing?
3. Your baseball background. What high school and/or college you went to and what organization you have been with and/or what league you have been in recently and what your stats are. A link to your stats on the web would be sufficient. Keep in mind that the days of semi-pro level players going to Japan and doing well or at least solidly have been over for a couple of decades now. The Japanese leagues are AAAA in quality, so glorified amateurs will not get the job done. Indeed, even guys who have recently won titles in U.S. independent leagues have, with only one or two exceptions, largely laid an egg in Japan. So keep your day job and don't waste my or your time if you haven't had success at least at the independent league level, or even better, AA or AAA. Indeed, you may instead perhaps look at trying out for a Mexican League or Taiwanese club and, if you do well there, you may be able to use that as a stepping stone. The Korean pro league, the KBO, is about AA qualitatively.
The ideal candidate for Japan is somebody who has at least a little MLB experience and ability, but has gotten caught up in a numbers game and has nowhere to go otherwise. Moreover, while most players who go to Japan hope that it will help them obtain a shot at MLB down the line, mentally, it is best if the player look to spend the remainder of their career with their Japanese team. If you are always thinking of MLB, it can get in the way of both your preparation to play everyday in Japan and interfere with your adjustment to a totally different culture. So one thing at a time, okay?
Now a Word About Japanese Pro Ball vs. MLB
| One thing that may help you adjust to playing
in Japan is understanding the difference in the development of the Japanese
pro game as compared with its stateside counterpart. Here are a few bullet
1. While MLB teams started as self-sufficient entities where the
point was an exhibition of baseball talent itself and are autonomous, Japanese
pro ball developed mostly as an advertising vehicle. When the first Japanese
league formed in 1936, the owners of those teams were usually rail firms
or media entities seeking to garner passenger or reader loyalty by giving
people some place to go or something to read about or watch. Since
The owner of the Giants, Japan's most prominent team, is the Yomiuri media conglomerate. Back around 1930, the Yomiuri Shimbun was on the verge of bankruptcy, its readership nosediving. In stepped Matsutaro Shoriki, who had been fired as an official in the Tokyo Prefectural Police bureaucracy. Shoriki got a loan from a political crony of his to buy the ailing newspaper. Through holding public events, Shoriki, who knew nothing about baseball, built the paper's circulation back up to where it was becoming more powerful and prominent.
The rival Mainichi and Asahi papers had been sponsoring the wildly popular Koshien High School baseball tournaments every year and the Asahi had even invited American pro baseballers to come to Japan and play against various Japanese amateur teams. In addition, college baseball was extremely popular as well. An underling at Yomiuri suggested to Shoriki that the paper bring an MLB team to Japan. Shoriki, to his credit, put his paper's financial solvency on the line to bring over the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other MLB stars at the time, an event that ended up catching the popular imagination. Shoriki, a smart businessman even if he was ignorant about baseball, also noted that fans of college ball still wanted to see great university players carry on their careers somehow, so he had the company create its own team and sent it on a well received tour of the U.S., which also boosted the circulation of the Yomiuri Shimbun substantially.
The Hanshin Tigers, another one of the original Japanese teams in the first pro league there, is owned by a rail company. Rail firms wanted people to use their trains in order to generate fares and, thus, income. If people had some kind of event to go to, especially out in the suburbs, then the fares would come. Note that the home of the Tigers is Koshien Stadium, which isn't in Osaka, where most of Hanshin's fan base is, but in Nishinomiya, which is near Kobe. Japanese social mores also dictate that you show loyalty to those who have done you a good turn, so if you were enjoying yourself going out to see Hanshin play, then you were going to frequent Hanshin Railways as well as the department stores and other entities the company owns.
And so it went. Most of the budgets for the pro clubs are funded through the parent corporation's advertising department. While attempts to create corporate synergy with a marriage of baseball and media in MLB have mostly failed miserably (Disney and the Anaheim Angels, the Tribune Company and the White Sox, Fox and the Dodgers, etc), the perception in Japan is that it does indeed work. According to author Robert Whiting, Orix' buying the Blue Wave boosted the company's name recognition astronomically despite Orix having owned Tokyo Disneyland (which is actually in Urayasu, Chiba Prefectrue) for decades.
Therefore, most of the upper executives in a Japanese ballclub are people from the parent firm who are being nudged towards retirement and not what one would think of as baseball people. Sure, you have managers, general managers and player personnel people who are former pros or at least have some kind of baseball background, but they are subordinated to these executives who often know as much about the ins and outs of baseball as I do of quantum mechanics (i.e., nothing).
There have been attempts to enlarge a team's fan base by attempting to push their ties to the communities they play in, ergo the Yakult Swallows becoming the becoming the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the Nippon Ham Fighters moving to Sapporo and becoming the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, and the Tokyo Broadcasting-owned Yokohama Bay Stars. But those haven't really resonated with the locals except in Fukuoka, where the Softbank Hawks rule the roost, due to the overwhelming nationwide popularity of the Yomiuri Giants as well as the fact that the three teams named above have usually finished in "B Class," otherwise known as the second division, in the standings. Japanese love a winner, like fans anywhere else, and nobody has won like the Giants have over the decades. Too, there is a perception that if you aren't on television, you aren't popular and the other clubs don't receive the kind of television exposure that the Giants do. In a culture where it is personal popularity uber alles, this is an important point. Again, in a country where conformity is the watchword, being on the bandwagon is perceived as a social plus.
2. Due to the popularity of high school and college baseball in Japan, prominent stars from those spheres are expected to contribute to the teams that draft them almost rightaway whereas even the most highly sought after draftee into MLB isn't expected to be ready for at least two to three years and maybe more. But even the most hyped phenom is also expected to show deference to his "senpai," or seniors, who have joined the team before him, unlike here in the U.S., where rookies often come in with bad attitudes and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. The more respect you display to those Japanese predecessors, the sooner you will be accepted.
3. There is a foreign player limit of four per team at the top club level. There are no restrictions for each team's one minor league affiliate. In MLB, there is no such restriction. As a result, the pool that the Japanese draw from is almost exclusively limited to the 130 million or so folks in that nation and not the billion or more that MLB can draw from. That is one reason why the level of play has evolved more slowly there as compared with MLB.
4. The workouts in the Japanese leagues are far longer and more rigorous than the ones you see in MLB. Part of that is the feeling that if you toughen players up by driving them hard it will prevent injuries and make them able to perform well despite the fatigue one usually experiences at the end of the season. This is nonsense, but is part of the Japanese baseball joshiki, a term which is often translated as "common sense," but actually is more like the "accepted knowledge" in practice. Like the John Prine song says, "common sense makes no sense at all" and this is true in Japanese baseball.
But note that I said the reasoning is only part of the story. Don't miss this point. Here is the second half of that, which is the actual dynamic behind it all: it is a fallout of Japanese culture. You see, in Japan, making the gesture is often more important than the results. Japanese waste substantial parts of their lives in non-productive behavior in order to show each other that they are committed to the cause the company, organization or team is all about. For example, at most major Japanese firms, you will see a lot of people doing busy work or just appearing to be busy after they have finished their main assignment for the day well past quitting time because everyone is waiting for the boss to go home. If the worker leaves before the big guy, even for the good reason that he has already finished everything up, it may be taken as a sign that the worker is more interested in himself and isn't as committed to the group as he should be. This will injure his prospects for promotion down the line or make him a target for restructuring ("risutora") a word that, in Japan, actually connotes a "layoff."
This mentality also infects Japanese baseball. If you are a manager or a coach of a Japanese pro team and you work your players hard and long, you are showing your dedication to the cause. You are also doing it for a more narcissistic reason, to avoid criticism. Japanese are less independent than Americans and more sensitive to negative scrutiny. So if a coach takes it easy on his players, even if it's to keep them healthy, he leaves himself open to charges of neglecting his duty. It's the main reason why Bobby Valentine was canned in 1995 after managing Lotte to its best finish in eons. "If he had just pushed them harder, they coulda won the pennant," Lotte management believed. Valentine left and Lotte resumed taking up space in the southern end of the Pacific League standings.
This extends to the players themselves as well. Being outworked is to lose face. So you see pitchers throwing 200 pitches a day in spring training, batters taking hundreds of extra swings even back at the hotel and so forth. To be sure, it's a reflection of the martial arts mentality of working on your form and the spiritual principle of being so locked in to the extent that even when your body is fatigued, since you have thoroughly trained it, it will do the job anyway.
Now let me tell you a story. Back in the 1950's, the Nishitetsu (now Seibu) Lions had a great hitting outfielder named Hiroshi Oshita. Oshita used to get up at 5 a.m. every morning to run a couple of miles and work on his swing. He had some of the team's younger players move in with him and his wife. Oshita didn't tell the youngsters about his routine (the fact was, as it turned out, that Oshita was shy about people watching him train). One day, one of the young players got up early and saw somebody swinging a bat in the front garden. He went to investigate and found it to be Oshita. Now an American player would figure, "that's okay for you, but I need to sleep." Not in Japan. Not wanting to be thought of as lazy, the young players began rising at 5 a.m. to train with their much admired senior.
As you could probably guess, some of this is counterproductive. Pitchers get more tired toward the end of the season than they should due to the total workload and hitters can take advantage. There is a truism among foreign players that you emphasize making contact the first half of the schedule and then start teeing off when those forkballs and sliders no longer have the sharpness that they did earlier in the campaign. That is a natural lead in to the next point.
5. Injuries are often seen by Japanese team officials as a personal failing rather than as the accidents they usually are. The thinking is that if you had trained properly, you wouldn't have pulled that hamstring or suffered that oblique strain. Therefore, players often find themselves being penalized at the next contract negotiation for time they had to take off due to injury rather than what you see in MLB, which is that injuries are a natural part of any game where there is a big demand on your body. The fact that half the ballparks use artificial turf isn't taken into account at all in Japan. Now get ready for a bit of a shock, coming at you live next:
6. You may have to pay for part of your surgery if you need it. Yep, you didn't misread that. This is especially true of teams that are losing money, since they would like to be able to escape at least part of the monetary burden for an expensive reconstructive procedure. So if you sign with a Japanese team, be sure to include in the contract language that the club will bear all costs for any necessary procedure. Yeah, them asking you to foot part of the bill is really small minded and bush league, but it it isn't uncommon.
| The main thing to remember about Japanese
culture is that it is a top down society that depends on the reciprocal
exchange of favors to keep social relations lubricated. If you study Japanese,
you would find that inherent in it is a presumption that nobody is equal,
that somebody is always lower or higher in status than somebody else depending
on various factors, most of which have to do with age, occupation or position
This is an extension of the Chinese Confucian philosophy that was imported through Korea in the sixth century0and has come to define the basis on which Japanese society operates.
Therefore, teachers are highly respected (even if sometimes not well liked personally by individual students) since they are imparting knowledge that will enable you to fulfill a constructive role in society. Your boss has done you the favor of giving you a job that enables you to make a living, so you are to do your best to return that favor, even if it often means being at work while important family events such as funerals, weddings or births that Americans wouldn't miss take place. Sadaharu Oh, when he was still a player with Yomiuri, didn't attend his father's funeral because he had a road game that night. This is common.
Police aren't respected per se, but feared. The reason for that is that they can pretty much do with you what they want once they arrest you. There is a presumption in society that once you've been arrested, it was because you have indeed done something. Nevermind that confessions are often obtained thanks to the application of a billy club during interrogation. A Rodney King case-like media circus in Japan is impossible.
Indeed, even the concept of privacy is nearly non-existent in Japan. Everybody is in everybody else's business, one reason why Japanese, on a personal level, tend to be pretty closemouthed about their private lives. Japanese can be so uptight that they go out on drinking binges together in order to get to know each other. For a non-drinker such as myself, this was tough. But I knew I couldn't refuse, so I went when my Japanese coworkers invited me to go hoist a few.
Most people get around communally as well, by train. At least that's true in the big cities. It's considered rude to talk anything above a whisper on a train. They are very safe, convenient and clean, unlike in the U.S.
But for all this talk about community, a foreigner has to realize that he will always be "the other" in Japan, no matter how well he can speak Japanese or has accommodated the Japanese lifestyle. Even a Japanese who has lived abroad for a number of years will still use the phrase "we Japanese" due to how strongly rooted that ethnic identity is. That doesn't mean that foreigners are discriminated against all the time. Many foreigners complain of having problems finding housing due to discrimination. Some brothels won't admit foreigners thanks to AIDS fears. But generally, there is no Jim Crow style discrimination in shops, restaurants and bars except in a tiny number of instances.
On the other hand, a common topic of Japanese in a company is what the foreigner(s) is/are doing. This may be another manner in which group solidarity is promoted, but it is also true that many Japanese are envious of the fewer family and social obligations that foreigners, especially Americans, have and their more upfront way of dealing with things. For example, many Japanese women will date a foreigner because there is less interference by the families involved than in a relationship between two Japanese. Also, what that woman does sexually or in her spare time is less likely to be found out by family members.
About Japanese women: they are the most beautiful creatures on the planet, imho. You will rarely see an ugly girl like the kind of beefalos you see padding through the aisles of Wal-Marts all across the U.S.. They tend to be pretty shy at first. Moreover, they like being girls. However, the drawbacks to them is that they probably won't be on the pill since most Japanese women still see that as slutty. They will prefer condoms. You should use them anyway since the instances of V.D. have increased sharply, especially among the young, over the last decade. You will need to bring your own condoms with you since the Japanese brands often aren't big enough for Americans. The other thing you have to do with them is inform them that where you come from we tend to explicitly spell out our feelings and intentions and thus find it hard to know what they are thinking unless they speak up. It's pretty rare for a player to have a long term involvement with a Japanese since most foreign players are around for just a year or two. But in the case that you are looking at that, spelling out what it is you expect is very important. Many Japanese women, for example, find saying "I love you" to be either embarrassing or distasteful (actually a little vulgar). Public displays of affection are frowned on, though holding hands is okay. Of course, there are going to be inevitable misunderstandings that arise between people from different cultures. So finding ways to talk that out without it escalating into a heated argument is something you really need to figure out if you want a long term relationship. Arguments are supposed to be vehicles for learning about the other person and not about mutual vilification or obtaining power in the relationship. There is also a type of Japanese woman that tires of having to be so frank all the time, too. So that is another issue that you will have to talk about. I'm a take me or leave me kind of guy myself. That makes it easier for me to tell my significant other what I want. Life's too short to be hanging around a relationship that is headed into the crapper or is unsatisfying.
If you want to read more on Japanese culture and etiquette and look at some info about living there, go Here. All sites are current.
How to be Successful in Japan
| Okay, having read the above, what do you
have to do to be successful in Japan? Well, what do you have to do to be
successful in MLB? It's essentially the same, only 5000 miles or so further
1. Baseball baseball baseball! Somebody who is focused is going to experience greater things. Okay, the culture is different. It's a long distance from home. You can't read or understand anything. All the people who brought you on board care about is what you do between the white lines. So ignore everthing else and eat, sleep and breathe baseball. Keep your life as simple as possible. Once you got the baseball end of your life conquered, then you can begin to perhaps take on other issues such as learning the language (highly recommended) or exploring the country. You're going to find that Japanese ownership can be pretty imperious. On the other hand, YOU'RE PLAYING BASEBALL FOR A LIVING! The Japanese public really doesn't have time for whiners who are playing a kid's game for ten to 100 times what they make at a job they hate.
2. Relax and have fun. In order for everything to work properly physically on the field, you have to have a clear head and not be tense. You can't clutter your mind up with a bunch of non-baseball issues buzzing around in your head. "That's just the way it is" should be your catch phrase when you come across something irritating and move on.
3. You're there to learn. Have you thought about what you want to do after baseball? With the increasing globalization of the game, you could certainly turn your experience into a benefit after you hang your spikes up. Keep your eyes and ears open. Ask your teammates and translator questions. Try to pick up Japanese words and phrases. You may even see if the team can arrange a tutor. But you should only do that if it doesn't interfere with your mental preparation for each day's game. After all, you may be coaching a Japanese player some day.
4. If you're married, it could be that it would be better to leave the wife and kids at home, depending on what their mindset is concerning being in Japan. If they see it as an adventure, then they should by all means come. The drawback to that is that they can be a distraction while you are attempting to adjust to a new environment. So think hard about how you are going to handle your family before you sign a Japanese contract. If your marriage is rocky, I would recommend getting the divorce before you leave for Japan since it will be one less thing to worry about. Remember, anything not baseball-related is a distraction.
5. Japanese, aside from having no time for whiners, have also had it up to the hilt with conceited prima donna MLB refugees. They have a phrase for it, "major league pride," and it isn't a compliment. You can make a lot of hay by keeping your mouth shut and being respectful. You can also, as Mike Kinkade did, emphasize that you don't care about personal goals, that you want to do whatever it takes to win a Japan Series. In an other-directed society, this is a good public relations strategy.
6. Another good strategy is to offer to do baseball clinics for youngsters. Being seen teaching kids is a big public relations winner with Japanese .
7. On the field, if you are a position player, think back up the middle when you are at the plate. If you try to pull all that breaking stuff they throw, especially since you will see a boatload of forkballs, you will be grounding out to second and short a lot. So stay compact and let the location of the pitch dictate what you do with it. Besides, especially if you play in the Central League, where they have the smallest ballparks, you can often hit line drives to the opposite field that will leave.
If you are a pitcher, they want you to throw that first pitch for a strike. The Japanese way of pitching, and it's reflective of the Japanese social personality, is to avoid directly challenging the hitters, so you will see the Japanese moundsmen often throwing breaking pitches even with 3-0 counts. You should pitch how you know when you are in the actual games, but just expect to get an earful if you throw a 3-2 heater that gets taken out of the yard instead of sending a slider up there. I would also reccomend that, just to get along with the coaches, that you follow the pitching coaches' instructions as much as possible (if it won't screw up your mechanics) and then just do your thing in the actual games. They put a great deal of stock in weight transfer, so you should sharpen that up before joining your Japanese team or you're going to hear a lot about it when you get to Japan.
8. When you play games in Osaka you should be ready to hear some pretty raw language from the fans in the stands. Osakans are pretty earthy people and a lot less phony and uptight than Tokyoites. However, they're not as dangerous or as scummy as Yankees fans even if they are vociferous.
9. Now the obligatory warning about drug use: don't. The Japanese not only have a jail cell waiting for you, but the stigma of being arrested for that over there is much greater than that in the U.S.. For example, when I told my most recent Japanese girlfriend that I smoked pot in high school, she was pissed. Never mind that I hadn't used it in almost a quarter century. Dick Davis was canned from the Kintetsu Buffaloes for possessing a small amount of pot. He would have been locked up, but the judge handling his case felt that Davis had already suffered a big enough social penalty and let him leave the country. The most common drug abused in Japan is speed, the sale of which is controlled by the Yakuza, Japan's Mafia. So unless you want your face splashed all over tv and the print press as you are lead away by the police, stay away from that shit. Besides, anybody who is still using drugs after high school has some major maturity issues.
Japanese Baseball and Your First Press Conference
| So suppose that you've been knocking around
the minors for a number of years without even a taste of The Show. So when
a player like that gets to Japan and has to stand before dozens of media
folks, including tv cameras, upon his arrival it can be understandably
intimidating. So prepare for it, it is going to happen.
1. Read up on the Japanese baseball. Whiting's You Gotta Have Wa and former Montreal Expos and Yomiuri Giants outfielder Warren Cromartie's Slugging it Out in Japan are essential reading since they will give you some idea of the history and some of what to expect. The good thing is that Japanese baseball is changing, albeit slowly, and managers and coaches aren't as hard charging or as callous as they were when both of the above books were published. But when you talk about Japanese baseball at the press conference, emphasize the positive aspects that you learned from the books. By the way, the Mr. Baseball flick has to be viewed carefully, since the non-baseball portions are absolute horseshit and it is a bit dated.
2. Research the subject on the web. I always take questions from readers and you can read all of my past articles at Baseball Guru.com. Use the Japanese Baseball Daily links section. Check out the stats of your new manager and coaches when they were active players in the Data Warehouse. Take a look at Japanese Baseball.com and scribble some notes. Go to Google News and input the words "japan baseball" for news articles on the topic.
3. Okay, so you've done your homework and now you are in a meeting room in front of a bunch of Japanese sportswriters waiting to see what the new foreigner has to say. Begin by insisting that it is an honor to play in Japan with its 70 year long pro baseball tradition and that by learning under [manager's name] you will become good enough to help the team win a Japan Series. If you are playing with a club that finished in the bottom rungs of the league, say that every year is another opportunity for everyone to get together and battle for the pennant, that with the right kind of effort anything is possible. Don't say anything about Japanese players going to MLB since, for some Japanese owners (particularly Yomiuri group chairman Tsuneo Watanabe, who is George Steinbrenner on crack), this is a thorny subject. However, if a reporter asks you to evaluate the Japanese players who are currently in MLB, feel free to say what you think about their on field abilities, but refrain from commenting about them on a personal level.
4. Now about dealing with the press: Japanese tend to be obsessed with small details that Americans wouldn't pay attention to. A general observation is that they are more process driven whereas Americans are results oriented. So you will get questions about something different you did the day before that you aren't today and you will get more intrusive questions about your personal life. The reporters are under pressure to just write something and fill up newspaper space every single day in a way that is more stressful than what U.S. writers have to deal with. The easier you can make it for them and the more you can talk about what you're doing, even if it's minor stuff, will win you some brownie points.
5. Now let's talk about religion. Or let's not. I say that because less than 1% of Japanese are Christians and in any event it is considered uncool to make big public displays of religious fervor. As for how the baseball press handles a player's devotion to his God (by the way, just for disclosure's sake, I'm personally an athiest, but I have had many born again Christian and Jewish friends) depends on how the player comports himself. For example, onetime Yomiuri and Yakult slugger Roberto Petagine is a very devout Catholic and regularly talked about God in interviews in the press. This has earned him a mixed reception. Some writers may think Petagine has kind of a screw loose, especially since he didn't make himself all that available outside of the ballpark, as he lived apart from the rest of the team. He is also reportedly very shy and tends to prefer being at home with his wife. On the other hand, Scott Sheldon is a devout protestant and, when he was with Orix, his religiousness was seen as more congruent with his quiet off the field personality (though he's a fierce competitor at the ballpark). He didn't push his beliefs on people the way Petagine is seen as doing, so on a personal level, Scott probably garnered more respect from the press even if he wasn't putting up the numbers Roberto does.
A better way to talk about your religious beliefs would be to tell the press about charitable events you may have been part of with your church, focusing more on what you actually did than the theology behind it. You can also emphasize how good your life has been and how the Bible talks about giving to the poor and leave it at that. Do not use the word "unfortunate." For some reason, even though you see words in the Japanese press that use that phrase ("megumarenai"), apparently the english sense of it is considered an insult. I don't know why, though if I had to guess it is that "unfortunate" could be construed as carrying the sense of being cursed whereas "megumarenai" can be translated in a way as "not blessed with the same circumstances as others." So 'megumarenai" is more indirect and Japanese like indirectness.
If you're a Mormon, well, I would be careful. You may see Mormon foreigners on Japanese tv occasionally, but they are there more for novelty value. Nobody cares about their religious beliefs. Most of the foreign community, and excuse me for saying this but it's true, consider the Mormon missionaries and some of the "panda" Mormon tv personalities to be pains in the ass. So it's all well and good for you to be a Mormon, but because you see a Kent Derricott or Kent Gilbertson on the tube every now and again don't think that it's because Mormonism is considered cool.
Just to make sure I've made this clear, though: there is no overt religious discrimination in Japan. It's just that people will avoid you if you are pushy about your beliefs.
A Final Thought
|If you've never been out of the U.S., going to Japan can be kind of daunting. Play some winter ball in Puerto Rico or Venezuela (at least after the political situation there has calmed down) and see how you handle that. If you're so tightly wound that you have to have things just so or if you are the type who gets homesick easily, Japan isn't for you. If you're a picky eater, don't go to Asia at all. If you think the world should revolve around you or are the type who, like one description of former Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had it, "can strut sitting down," stay home. You'll just embarrass the other foreign players if you go. But if you are patient, willing to work hard and look forward to new challenges, then Japan could be worthwhile for you. Good luck.|