Any philatelist worth his perforation gauge will at once place the accompanying postage stamp as Japanese, 10 yen, issue of 1957. A student of art will recognize it as one of the classics of Japanese painting. A good many of the rest of us, however, may be simply surprised by the vision of a kimono-clad geisha girl forsaking her fluttering fan for an endeavor so athletic and occidental as bouncing a ball.
It seems we shouldn't be.
Herbert Warren Wind's trip to Japan last fall to report on the Canada Cup matches at the Kasumigaseki Country Club outside Tokyo (SI, Nov. 11) was his second visit to that country. As an officer in the Air Force, he had been stationed there right after World War II. Both times he was struck by the pervading role which sport plays in that island country and by the seemingly curious circumstance that the more Western the sport the more the Japanese go for it. And both times, with considerable fascination, Wind explored this state of affairs, not only by personal observation but in discussions with scholars and laymen, both American and Japanese.
Upon his return, Wind presented this postage stamp as only a small piece of eye-appealing evidence that he had a story in depth to tell about sport in Japan. The story went far back into Japanese history and culture. But it was as currently significant as his account of the decisive defeat Torakichi Nakamura and his partner, Koicho Ono, gave to the golf teams from 29 other countries—including the U.S.'s Demaret and Snead—in the Canada Cup matches. This was the latest high point in a sequence of important sports triumphs which have given international stature to Japan's postwar sports boom.
Japan is a country where seven daily sports newspapers are published in Tokyo alone and where the translation of the anthology of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Tips from the Top sold like rice cakes. Baseball is almost a 24-hour-a-day preoccupation and geisha girls are golfers (for some rather progressive reasons which perhaps hold a lesson for that nearly vanished American, the golf widow).
It's a highly satisfying situation. Next week Wind begins to describe it, with humor and sincere admiration, in the first of a two-part series on sport in Japan. For all SPORTS ILLUSTRATED readers the articles will, I feel sure, shed new and most entertaining lights on the Land of the Rising Sun.