Woofers, Tweeters, and Baru Players

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We're packing packing packing for our big company relocation, and part of the process (for me at least) is catching those stray books that didn't get typed in to our online library list at LibraryThing.com, which is like crack to compulsive book collectors. (See our profile here.) We've got everything entered except Jo's picture books and easy readers, and I think we may have missed Wendi's craft books and recipe books, as those were not in the regular collection. Those will have to get added after the move.

One of the stray books I found has some really funny stuff though, and I thought I'd post a little bit of it. It's an old Don Brigg's Tokyo travel guide from 1969 that I picked up at some garage sale or used bookstore somewhere. It's classic. It's got this sort of hip swinger's attitude, and is filled with punny, self-indulgent section headlines like "Hari Cherry," "A Kick in the Kimono," "My Furoshiki's Got a Hole In It," "Two-Rickshaw Garage," "The Price is a Riot," "Truth or Kimonoquences," "The Garden of Edo," "Service with a Samurai," "Squid Row," "Knights of the Round Haircuts," and "A Hard Day at the Orifice." (I'm not touching that one.) The section on packing into Tokyo's infamously crowded trains is called "Mein Kramp."

But there are two sections I want to quote from. First, a section called "Woofers & Tweeters."

Tokyo's freakier hippies are despised by the livelier "danmo-zoku" tribe which is more interested in jazz coffee shops and playgirls. Danmo-zoku young people indulge in whatever stimulants can be obtained. Most have jobs. "Futen-zoku" are hippies without a mission, considered brainless beneath their shaggy manes, interested in promiscuous liaisons without the stimulus of jazz hangouts.

Ah, Japan in the Sixties. Much like America in the Sixties, methinks. The guide book then goes on to tell you where to find these Tokyo denizens, should you want to hang with them. Or perhaps despise them.

And there's a section on Japanese baseball too, called "Take Me Out to the Baru Game" - delivered with a surprisingly fair analysis (for the time):

Japanese baseball teams have about thirty players on their rosters from Hawaii and the Americas, and some stars, such as Yomiuri Giants' slugger Oh (Chinese) and southpaw pitcher Enatsu of the Hanshin Tigers, are of championship caliber. Americans who are playing pro ball here say the Japanese teams lack the depth of U.S. teams, with fewer "stars." Japanese pitchers do not throw as fast, but are experts with screwballs and sinkers; and are called upon to pitch more frequently than are overseas regulars. In batting and fielding Japanese excel, but are considered to be very poor base runners. Japanese players are two or three years younger, on the average, and are not as money-conscious as American stars. Long spring training periods and over-long pre-game practice sessions are criticized by westerners playing in Japan. One Japanese pitcher now playing professional ball in the States notes that American hitters tend to try for the long extra-base fly ball more than do the line-drive hitting Japanese. It is thought that five or six more years will elapse before Japanese ball teams will be able to compete on a more-or-less equal basis with American teams.

That final prediction, compared to the opinions of many other observers of Japanese baseball then and now, is refreshingly optimistic.

Perhaps next time I'll feature one of the sections on sushi: "Thank Cod It's Friday."


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