The most popular sport in Japan is still baseball. A good example is the national high school baseball championship joined by high school teams going through the elimination tournaments held in 47 prefectures. Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is covered with snow for almost half a year, and so, our prefectural representative teams were always weak and lost in the first round in most cases. When I was a kid, I never believed I would live to see the championship flag in Hokkaido. One summer day in 2004, I was just transferred back to Hokkaido. When I was buying daily necessities for a new home at some shopping mall, the background music suddenly stopped, and the news of winning the championship by a Hokkaido high school team broke in. I will never forget the scene where shoppers there were roaring with joy and shaking hands with people who don’t know each other.
I was born and raised in Hokkaido, and so, can say in confidence that so many of us have more or less an inferiority complex to people outside Hokkaido, probably because here is the least-developed area in Japan. We sometimes call the outside of Hokkaido “the main land,” which can be said to be evidence to show our sense of inferiority. I believe such a complex in our hearts has gradually changed, and now it may become something we can call humility. The change in our consciousness seems to have a great impact, by the way. High school baseball teams in Hokkaido had never won first place in the long history of the championship since 1915 until 2003 (second place only one time in 1963), but after the historic win in 2004, took first place one more time; second place three times.
Many of our craft people have long experience in woodworking. Of course, they are proud of their experience and skills but always flexible and open-minded to new and different ideas, different from the general image of a craftsman: just being stubborn about its preference, policy, etc. I’d say this may be because of humility unique to Hokkaido people, and does definitely work to improve the quality of our products.
He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.