Japan Tourism Agency Award for TJ

Tokyo Journal Receives Commissioner Award from the Japan Tourism Agency   On October 2, 2017, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) held the...

Movie, Music & Entertainment


Japan’s Multicultural Multitalented Model & Actress: Rola From the Jungles of Bangladesh to the Global Catwalk You’d be ha...

Movie, Music & Entertainment

Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune Mifune: The Last Samurai Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997) is one of the most prominent and revolutionary actors in the history of...

Living Legend

Tatsuya Nakadai

Tatsuya Nakadai Sixty years of Film, Television and Theater Tatsuya Nakadai is a shining star of post-war Japan. Still active in the enter...

Living Legend

Tito Time in Tokyo

Tito Time in Tokyo Legendary Jackson Brother on The Jacksons’ 50 Years in Entertainment and his Solo Album Debut in Japan The legacy...

Movie, Music & Entertainment

Dance Music King: Steve Aoki

International Electronic Dance Music King: Steve Aoki From the All Night Party to One of the World’s Highest-Paid DJs Steve Aoki is ...

Movie, Music & Entertainment

Soulrocker: Michael Franti

Soulrocker: Michael Franti On a Musical Mission for Health, Happiness and Equality Michael Franti is a musician, rapper, poet, spoken word...

Movie, Music & Entertainment

CNN News Anchor: Erin Burnett

CNN News Anchor: Erin Burnett Erin Burnett’s Journey to Journalism Erin Burnett is a news anchor who headlines her own show, Erin Bu...


Illuminate Education

Illuminate Education: Tech with a Heart Spreading Altruism Within the Company and Around the World Illuminate Education, located in Irvine...


Steve Killelea's Peace Initiative

Institute for Economics and Peace Founder: Steve Killelea Measuring Peace with the Global Peace Index Steve Killelea is the creative ...

TJ Top 10 Rankings: Product Reviews

Tokyo Journal's Product Reviews

Product Reviews for the Busy Traveler Move Across Campus with the Swagger E-Scooter The Swagtron Swagger is an e-scooter that can be used ...


Tournament of Roses

Tournament of Roses America’s New Year Celebration The Tournament of Roses, or the Rose Parade, is part of America’s New Year ...


Haitian Culture & Politics

Haitian Culture

Synopsis of Art by Artists of the Haitian Diaspora One of Haiti’s greatest exports to the world is its beautiful art. To illustrate t...


Living “as” Nature not “with” it

Living “as” Nature not “with” it Ilya Prigogine, a late Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, once wrote in a book of h...

TJ Expert

Photo Album from Cuba

Photo Album from Cuba: “A Midsummer Night’s Memory” There were nights when each of their dreams gathered. The dreams beca...

Travel & Food

Figs and Ham Tart

Figs and Ham Tart For making last-minute meals, I always try to have a few key ingredients at home. I keep a few rolls of frozen puff pastr...

Travel & Food

Chef Ben Ford

New American Comfort I have memories from my childhood of my mother and father packing the car for our annual summer stay in Wisconsin. Int...


Mari's Homemade Cooking Recipes

Mari's Homemade Cooking Recipes How to Make Miso-simmered Mackerel Ingredients (4 Servings)Miso broth: 4 tablespoons miso 4 tablespoon...


Global Educator David Nunan

Teaching to the Heart and Head In teacher education seminars and conferences, a common warm-up task is for the workshop leader to ask parti...


Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols In the fall of 1976, I met the Sex Pistols for the first time when Malcolm McLaren took me to Club Louise in London. That same ...


Junko Koshino

The First Fashion Show in Cuba August 1996. I was said to be the first to hold a fashion show in Cuba. Then I held another in 200...


Corporate Governance Code in Japan

Corporate Governance Code in Japan   As one of the measures of the Japan Revitalization Strategy approved by the Cabinet, the Corpora...

Yoga Lifestyle

Minds and Machines

Minds and Machines OUR lives depend too much on technology. The theory of Moore’s Law tells us that computing power will continue to ...



Life Style Expat Life IS expat life a dream come true or an emotional rollercoaster? ...



Success Built in Japanese Products

How the Japanese Build Success into Their Products The Japanese have a culture of achieving a profound degree of refinement in the products...

Travel & Food

Model Jessica Minh Anh Visits Japan

Supermodel Jessica Minh Anh Visits Japan Supermodel Jessica Minh Anh visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukushima to explore potential catwalk venues...

Travel & Food

Yosakoi Festival

Yosakoi Festival Tokyo Yosakoi (dance festival) is the second half of the Fukuro Festival, which has been an annual tradition in west Ikebu...


Tokyo Hotels

Tokyo Hotels Hotel New Otani Excellent Service in a Serene LocationEstablished in 1964, this superbly designed luxury hotel is known for i...


Serviced Apartments in Tokyo

Serviced Apartments in Tokyo If you plan to stay in Tokyo for more than a week or two, you may want to consider a fully furnished and servi...

Travel & Food

Koshu Wine – Indigenous to Japan

Koshu Wine – Uniquely Indigenous to Japan When it comes to Japanese alcoholic beverages, most people think of sake. But in recent yea...

On Japan

The Barges of the Dead

The Barges of the Dead Donald Richie is struck by a haunting apparition at the seashore in this excerpt from his Japan Journals The follow...

On Japan

Ambassador of Japan Heritage

Ambassador of Japan Heritage When I first started to become feverishly interested in Japan, I never dreamed I would eventually play at the ...

Tokyo Street Fashion

Streetstyle Glamour

Tokyo Journal photographer Lola Rose captures the latest in street fashion in her photo column "Streetstyle Glamour." ...

Editor's Insight

Garrity's Japan

Garrity's Japan Japanese Conformity ANYONE who has spent time in Japan starts to notice something strange about the country. After a while...


Tokyo Sightseeing/People Watching

Sightseeing and People Watching in Tokyo   Japan’s historical and modern beauty never ceases to beguile visitors. But despite i...


Samurai Spirit

Virtu in Japan Samurai Spirit Tetsuro Shimaguchi, known for his samurai choreography and appearance in the Quentin Tarantino movie Kill Bi...

Travel & Food

Travel to Hokkaido

Travel to Hokkaido The northernmost of Japan’s four main islands, Hokkaido offers an unparalleled view of the country’s magnifi...

Travel & Food

Sake & Wine Cultures in Japan

Sake & Wine Cultures in Japan Sake vs. Wine: Genealogical Differences SAKE is often referred to as “rice wine,” but that&r...


President Douglas Erber

Japan America Society of Southern California President Douglas Erber Founded in 1909, the Japan America Society of Southern California ( J...

baseball godzilla invades america

Written by TJ  | Created: Thursday, 18 October 2012 09:38
Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2012 10:22  |  Hits: 3834

Godzilla Invades America

Look out America! Japan’s latest export is not a car or electronic gadget, it’s a giant – the Yomiuri Giant they call Godzilla. On December 19th 2002, Japanese baseball slugger Hideki Matsui, a.k.a. “Godzilla” agreed to a $21 million contract with the New York Yankees and the 186 cm/95 kg power-hitting outfielder is leaving Tokyo for American shores to join the wave of Japanese baseball players who are making it big in the big leagues.

Godzilla is perhaps the biggest Japanese baseball star yet to join the major leagues. The eyes of the country of Japan have been on Matsui since his days as a high school player in the televised 1992 Koshien National High School Baseball Championships where he was intentionally walked five times, once with the bases loaded. Matsui went on to become the Number One draft pick by Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants in 1993 and now at 28 years old, is the three-time Most Valuable Player of Japan’s Central League.

There have been doubts whether a Japanese baseball player could really make it in the major leagues. Ichiro Suzuki helped to lay these doubts to rest when he won both the Rookie Of The Year and Most Valuable Player Awards in 2001 with his speed, great throwing arm and skillful hitting.  However, Major League Baseball has yet to see a Japanese Power Hitter. 2003 will be the year for Hideki Matsui to prove that Japanese players can come over to the States and slug with the best of them. Matsui may be Japan's strongest power hitter since Sadaharu Oh, the former Yomiuri Giant who broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record in 1978. According to the World’s Homerun King, Matsui “has tremendous ability and discipline.  He has brought the art of hitting to new heights in Japan and he is certainly equal in many ways to the major leaguers.” 

More than a dozen Japanese have come to the U.S. to play in the Major Leagues including Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki, L.A. Dodger Hideo Nomo, San Francisco Giant Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Texas Ranger Hideki Irabu and others who have played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals.  Hideki Matsui may be the latest player to head to the US, but he will not be the last.  Others are on their way, and at the Japan All-Star Series, all eyes were on not one, but two Matsuis.  In addition, to the powerhitter Hideki, Kazuo Matsui, Shortstop for the Seibu Lions was turning the heads of the Major Leaguers and most agreed that both “Godzilla” and “Little Matsui” were the top players to look out for.

As his coaches and colleagues looked on with mixed emotions about Godzilla’s departure from Japanese baseball, Matsui donned his Yomiuri Giants uniform for the last time in November 2002 to take part in the Major League Baseball VS Japanese Professional Baseball All-Star Series. The Japanese players, coaches and fans were faced with the paradoxical situation of having to bid farewell to a local hero who will be greatly missed while at the same time excited about the attention that Godzilla’s success in the Major Leagues may bring to Japanese baseball.

The following are excerpts and translations of interviews with Tokyo Journal Editor Dr. Anthony Al-Jamie.

“It’s definitely a positive thing when you think about the fact that Ichiro achieved success in the U.S. and now Matsui is going there.  Their success will stimulate players into believing that they can be successful in the U.S. too.  In other words, they are helping to set a higher aim or goal for Japanese baseball players.  Achieving their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues will motivate other players to try to improve their technical skills which will in turn raise the whole level of baseball in Japan.   Back when I played, there were just no opportunities to cross over, so it was basically impossible. If I would have had the chance, I would have loved the challenge of playing in the major leagues and I am very envious of the opportunities the players have today.”
Baseball legend Sadaharu Oh on Japanese baseball players going to the U.S

“There are a lot of beautiful things in Japan. There is a lot of talent in Japan. It’s good for us to come here and watch. Not only has being a participant in this tournament been a great experience, but also to see the great talent of Japanese players has been a wonderful opportunity.  It’s a lot more exciting than some people think it might be. We were warned in the United States, “Don’t go there thinking you’re going to rock their world. They can play!” So, it’s a great experience for us to see how much talent there is in this country.”
Diamondback pitcher Miguel Batista on Japanese baseball

“I think it’s good for Matsui himself to have the opportunity to play in Major League baseball.  As a Japanese player, I am glad to see he’s coming to the U.S. and I think he’ll do well.”

MLB star Ichiro Suzuki on Hideki Matsui

“As his coach, I am sad to see Matsui go, but I do wish him the best of luck. He has played hard for quite some time now and his contract allows him to be a free agent, so he deserves to play where he wishes, but we sure will miss him.”

Yomiuri Giants Manager Hara on Hideki Matsui

“He is good with the fastball and he has a good eye for the ball. He is very aggressive and I think he can be a success in the United States. I based my pitching on his numbers. This means that I’ve got to have power because he’s got a good average.”

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Rodrigo Lopez on Hideki Matsui

“They’re good. They play the game right! There are huge expectations about Hideki Matsui. You can tell he’s a good player because he’s got great hands, he can hit good, he’s smooth, but I think there’s a lot of hype right now, so that’s why he hasn’t hit any home runs this time. Anybody that hits that many home runs, it doesn’t matter what league he’s in. I’d love to have him on my team. He’s a good hitter, and anytime you’ve got a good hitter, you want him on your team.”

L.A. Dodgers pitcher Eric Gagne on Japanese baseball and Hideki Matsui

“I like both Big Matsui and Little Matsui. The big Matsui’s got a nice swing. He’ll be fine in the U.S. He’s just got to keep his focus on the game and not let the media pressure get to him. I especially like Little Matsui. He’s definitely Major League material. I’m looking forward to both of them coming to the U.S.”

MLB slugger Barry Bonds on Japanese baseball’s two Matsuis.

“They come out here, play the game hard and they are going to execute the game - no matter what the cost is. You know, in the States you might get more of a team that is going to try and drive the ball out of the park, but the Japanese are going out to hit and run, and play the fundamental type of game, more of what I’m accustomed to! I think Hideki Matsui’s real good! I saw him using all parts of the field, taking the ball out of the park and that type of quality is very rare in any type of hitter, so he’s something that can be special. I love Kazuo Matsui. He’s a real good player. He’s going to take my job!”

World Series star David Eckstein on Japanese baseball players and the two Matsuis

“The players in the U.S. are power hitters more so than they are over here. That’s not to say that the players over here don’t hit home runs, because they do! One of the things I really like about Japanese players is the great discipline they demonstrate, and the way they behave during and after the game. I just wish that they could rest a little more. I believe that they overwork sometimes, but that is the way they do it here. The conditions that they have are great, but sometimes they overwork and their bodies get tired, especially the pitchers – that is why they have injuries. They are good players. They understand all of the fundamentals of the game. A lot of them can play in the States on a worldwide basis. They always do everything hard. I love the way that they play the game. They are always alert and aware of what may happen. I think Hideki Matsui could be great in the U.S. It solely depends on him though. He has to adapt to a new culture, different environment, and things like that. I like the shortstop Matsui. I love him! I think he’s going to be a tremendous player in the United States.”

Baseball great Sandy Alomar, Sr. on Japanese baseball and the two Matsuis

“We knew they were good when we first came over here. They beat us the first three games. We’re battling back trying to win the series. We’re playing our butts off now – not that we weren’t the first three games. They just beat us flat out. You’ve got to play hard to beat these guys. All of these guys could play in the States as far as I am concerned. Hideki Matsui’s got a great approach at the plate. He takes a lot of pitches. I think he’s going to do great. I’d like to see the short stop over there – Kazuo. He looks real good. I like him a lot. He’d be a good lead-off hitter for somebody.”

Toronto Blue Jay Eric Hinske on Japanese baseball and the two Matsuis

“Kazuo’s my boy. I was here the last couple of years when he was on a farm team and then in the big leagues with us. I told him he was going to be a star but he is so humble. He said, “No, maybe not” He’s got fine tools. He’s worked hard. He stayed humble, but he stayed aggressive and I think he’s a wonderful kid. Really, by far, the all-round best player in Japan. He’s not a homerun hitter like Hideki Matsui because he doesn’t have the power. I think he’s going to have a smashing year next year and we’ll see how it goes from there. Hideki Matsui’s a wonderful player. There’s a lot of pressure playing in this gig. I know first hand because when I went back to play for the Florida Marlins, there was a lot of pressure put on me as I was the only power hitter. If he goes to New York, there will be a lot of good hitters around him so there won’t be as much pressure on him. Believe it or not going to a team like Seattle might be even more difficult to some degree on the field because Seattle doesn’t have a true power hitter. So then there would be a lot of pressure on him to be the guy to hit a lot of home runs. New York – they’ve got a power hitter. They’ve got superstars, so there should be less pressure.”

Former Japanese and Major League Baseball slugger Orestes Destrade on the two Matsuis

“Japanese and Americans are so different. I like them both. The American guys are always hitting and looking for power. The game is different here, but there are some great players like Kazuo Matsui. He’s the best. He’s unbelievable.”

Japanese professional baseball MVP Alex Cabrera on baseball and Kazuo Matsui

“He’s going to the U.S. as a representative of Japan and I very much look forward to watching him succeed in the major leagues.”

Kazuo Matsui on Hideki Matsui

“He’s a wonderful player and he’s living up to everyone’s expectations. If he is stealing the show, then that’s the way it should be.”

Hideki Matsui on Kazuo Matsui

U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker on the U.S.-Japan 2002 All-Star Series
“It’s a great American sport and a great Japanese sport. This is sort of symbolic of the friendship between our great countries.”


Staff Continued

Our Poll

What is your favorite city in Japan?

Tokyo Journal

© 2020 Authentasia, Inc. All rights reserved