Time Machine: The Making of 'The Chrysanthemum and the Bat'
By Tom Chapman Tokyo Weekender (July 10, 1977)
Early Fall – and the excitement and tension of baseball pennant races occupy the thoughts of fans of the ancient and honorable sport wherever it's played. And especially in Japan with the almost fanatical adventure of Yomiuri Giants' slugging hero Sadaharu Oh approaching, tying and finally last week breaking the home run record of 755 hit by Henry Aaron of the United States' Major Leagues. Almost everyone was caught up in Oh’s drama — whether baseball fan or not.
In the midst of the intensive interest in the sport of baseball around the world, a new and fascinating book probing the Japanese persona and sociological make-up as revealed through the sport of baseball was being published almost simultaneously in the U.S. and in Japan. The book — entitled "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat" by Robert Whiting — is a fascinating bisecting of Japanese social and cultural mores as seen through the unique methods of fielding professional baseball teams in the country. Copiously illustrated with scores of photographs, "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat" explains many of the mysteries inherent in the game as played in Japan which have perplexed American fans for many years. The traumatic experience of foreigners playing the game according to the "Samurai Code of Yakyu" is investigated thoroughly by Whiting.
The American version was published by Dodd, Mead and Company in New York and has received many good reviews from such esteemed publications as Time, The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews and others. The English version in Japan is published by Permanent Press and hits the stands today, Sept 9. A Japanese language translation will appear in October.
Baseball fan Tom Chapman — editor of Pacific travel magazine and head of a multi-media firm in Tokyo — interviews Whiting on elements of Japanalia and baseball as found in the book, beginning on Page 4 of this edition and Chapman's review of the book appears on Page 6.