Nikkei Chronicles #9—More Than a Game: Nikkei Sports

What makes Nikkei sports more than just a game for you? Perhaps you’d like to write about your Nikkei sports hero or the impact of Japanese athletes on your Nikkei identity. Did your parents meet through a Nikkei basketball or bowling league? Are you intrigued by an important chapter of Nikkei sports history, like the prewar Issei and Nisei baseball teams?

For the ninth edition of Nikkei Chronicles, Discover Nikkei solicited stories related to Nikkei sports from June to October of 2020. Voting closed on November 30, 2020. We received 31 stories (19 English; 6 Japanese; 7 Spanish; and 1 Portuguese), with a few submitted in multiple languages. We asked an editorial committee to pick their favorites and our Nima-kai community to vote for their favorite stories. Here are the selected favorite stories. (*Translations of these selected stories are currently in process.)

Editorial Committee’s Favorites

Nima-kai Favorite:

<<Community Partner: Terasaki Budokan - Little Tokyo Service Center>>

To learn more about this writing project >>

Check out these other Nikkei Chronicles series >>

sports en

Remembering Nikkei weightlifting champions

Nikkei athletes have won numerous national, world, and Olympic titles in the sport of weightlifting. Richard Tomita, Emerick Ishikawa, and Harold Sakata represented the US at the 1948 Olympics in London, along with Chinese American Richard Tom. Tom took the bronze medal in the bantamweight class, and Sakata took the silver medal in the light-heavyweight class. Sakata later achieved show business fame as Oddjob in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. Along with swimmers and divers, these lifters were in the forefront of Asian American athletes who achieved worldwide recognition.

The 1952 Olympics in Helsinki saw 22-year old Sacramento native Tommy ...

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sports en ja

In search of the two earliest Asahi players, Kodama and Tabata - Part 2

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Kaichi Tabata’s family in Japan

After the induction medal issue was settled, I received mail on November 27, 2019 from Keiichi Tabata in Japan.

Dear Mr. Shima, 

Let me introduce myself. I am Keiichi Tabata, grandson of Kaichi Tabata who is the first baseball player of Vancouver Asahi.

….My grandfather Kaichi Tabata was born in Suzuka City, Mie, Japan in 1895, married with Nobu and had seven children (4 boys and 3 girls). My late father Terukazu Tabata, the first son, was born in Vancouver in 1926 and stayed there four years until Kaichi and his ...

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sports en ja

In search of the two earliest Asahi players, Kodama and Tabata - Part 1

The Legendary Vancouver Asahi baseball team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and in 2005, the Asahi team was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Although the Asahi team and the players were inducted, there were 26 Asahi players whose induction medals from the BC Sports Hall of Fame remained unclaimed by their families. It was because more than 60 years had passed since the team was disbanded in 1941 after the war broke out. Many Japanese Canadians including the Asahi players were forcibly interned into the interior camps without being allowed to ...

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sports en

Little League Baseball Then (1959) and Now (1992)

My first exposure to baseball was around 1959 when my parents signed me up for baseball through the Fresno Buddhist Church which sponsored youth athletic sports such as baseball. This form of church “Little League” consisted of teams from various churches, both Buddhist and Christian throughout the area. The teams were made up of Japanese American (Sansei) teens, ages 11 to 12, with a maximum of 12 players. I knew most of them from church and they lived in the city of Fresno and its suburbs. I was the lone outcast from the rural portion (Inaka) of Fresno. I never ...

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sports en

Bob Izumi, A Canadian Pioneer in Fishing

TORONTO — As Canada celebrates National Fishing Week in July, a name that has become synonymous with the pastime is Bob Izumi.

Born in Chatham and raised by a single father in Blenheim, Izumi credits his father as the driving influence in life. His love of fishing was fostered by his father, Joe, who often took him, his three siblings and neighbourhood kids fishing.

“He worked several jobs at once to keep the family afloat,” Izumi tells Nikkei Voice in an interview. “He worked seven days a week and any days off he would spend with the family and the local ...

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