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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Speak The Language!

For those of you wondering if you should bother reading any farther because you aren't baseball fans—I realize this is a global blog, and not everyone likes baseball or sports—but I think you should, because it isn't really about baseball, but rather is about ingratiating oneself within one's adopted community.

So yeah - all you newbies on the JET Programme… learn from Kawasaki Munenori (surname first) (川﨑 宗則), a Japanese baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was born June 3, 1981, and along with the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners of MLB, he also played in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, the Japanese national baseball team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.

Once again, thank-you Vinnie, for the lead—it made me smile.

Kawasaki, is an utility ball player… that means he isn't a starter, but is used sparingly as a pinch-runner or to play any number of infield positions. In 2014, he did play a large role for the Blue Jays, owing to injuries to regulars, even winning a few games for us (Blue Jays).

This year, he pretty much played the entire year down in Toronto's minor league team, the Buffalo Bisons… yes, Buffalo is a minor league destination for Toronto. Kidding. We love Buffalo!

However, when the Blue Jays rosters were expanded in September to 40 (up from 25), Kawasaki was included.

Kawasaki was rarely used by the Blue Jays. His range playing defense isn't as strong as some of the other players, and his bat is weak as well…

When the play-off roster was declared (it shrinks back down to 25), Kawasaki, not surprisingly, was left off it.

And yet… there he is on the Blue Jays bench… dressed in full team colors, cheering on his teammates.

Kawasaki… a Japan-born individual, is an oddball even for a Japanese person.

He's not a stiff, business-like individual, rather he is pretty loosey-goosy, always smiling, making his teammates feel good, but still being all serious when it's time for him to play on the field.

He has become, without sounding denigrating, the Blue Jays unofficial team mascot.

Whether he's admitting to being drunk after the team celebrating their first play-off berth in 22 years; or that it's time for a Bush Party top continue the celebration, or giving the team a Japanese-language only pep talk before their first play-off game because he knew it confuse and amuse them, the fact is his teammates absolutely love this guy.

And here's why… It's an NHK media interview from September of 2014. Pay attention to what he says at the end of the interview:


I think it's amazing that he when being asked question in Japanese by the interviewer, Kawasaki chooses to answer only in English.

At the end of it, I'm pretty sure the interviewer asks (in Japanese), why he doesn't answer in the questions in Japanese, and Kawasaki essential answers—this is Canada, we speak English here.

Remember that while you are in Japan.

No one NEEDS to speak English to you.

Don't be like me… be like Kawasaki (in reverse), and have the Japanese speak to you in English, and you respond back in Japanese. Correct them if they revert to Japanese.

This helps their language skills, and yours.

This means you all have some learning to do to make it happen.

Anyhow... Kawasaki choosing to speak English when it would have been much easier for him to speak Japanese? That's why everyone loves this guy.

Good luck!
Andrew Joseph
PS: More data on Kawasaki can be found on his Wikipedia page HERE

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