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  Japan-America 150th Anniversary

Robert Whiting Tour: The Meaning of Ichiro

  Program Date:   April 7 - May 10, 2004
  Application Due:   N/A
  Location:   18 Cities in the U.S.
  Program Type:   Cultural, Public Affairs
  Contact:   National Association of Japan-America Societies
Tel: 202-783-4550
Your local Japan-America Society/Center

  Program Report    
Beginning on April 7, Mr. Whiting traveled 18 U.S. cities to talk about his latest book, The Meaning of Ichiro (Warner Book). Along with his previous work, You Gotta Have Wa (Macmillan), this book provides a detailed account on the influence of Japanese Major League Baseball (MLB) players on US-Japan relationship.
With the support from 18 Japan-America Societies, Mr. Whiting gave 20 speeches to over 700 people, held 21 book-signing sessions, and threw 2 first pitches at Minor League games in five weeks. Moreover, he reached out to thousands of audience through 25 media interviews in various cities (7 newspapers, 15 radio shows, and 3 TV appearances).
In his talks, Mr. Whiting shared little-known facts (at least in the U.S.) about Ichiro's childhood and his experience with the Japanese Baseball League. After the transition to Seattle Mariners in 2001, Ichiro's success has changed the Americans' perception of Japanese ball players in the U.S. "Ichiro is the first Japanese cultural icon in the U.S.," said Mr. Whiting in his speech in Washington, DC on April 13. "Americans see 'cool' and 'hip' in him. There were many people in Seattle that didn't know what sushi was 10 or 15 years ago. Now, thanks to Ichiro, they are eating it at Safeco and yelling 'gambare!'"
Ichiro has changed the perception of MLB in Japan as well. In these days, even one of the most conservative TV stations, NHK - Japan Broadcasting Corporation, regularly broadcasts real-time MLB games. Furthermore, there have been a number of package travel deals offered by travel agencies in Japan to come and watch MLB games. As a result, not only teenagers, but also many adults are now familiar with the names of MLB players. It is not at all a coincidence that MLB opened its first Japan office in Tokyo in 2003.
All in all, by utilizing baseball that has rich history both in Japan and the U.S., there is no question that this program contributed to further promoting the betterment of U.S.-Japan relationship.
Bob Whiting signing a book for a JASP member in Pittsburgh, PA, on April 12
Bob Whiting signing autographs for guests of the Japan-America Society of Indiana at the Indianapolis Indians baseball game.
The conclusion of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!" at the Indianapolis Indians baseball game on April 16th with lead singer Bob Whiting & JASI staff
Bob Whiting speaking to the audience in Seattle, WA, on April 30.
Seattle panel (front to back): Art Thiel, Don Lorentz, Larry Stone, Bob Whiting, and Tom Sasaki.

  Program Overview    

Robert Whiting's eagerly awaited book, The Meaning of Ichiro (Warner Books) was published in March 2004, and he visited 18 cities across the United States to talk about the book and how Ichiro's and other Japanese ball players' success in the Major League Baseball has contributed to US-Japan relations at various programs with the Japan Society / Japan-America Society in the following cities:


Whiting Tour in Articles
The Oregonian
April 11, 2004

Portland, OR
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 16, 2004

Pittsburgh, PA
The News & Observer
April 16, 2004

Raleigh, NC

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
May 1, 2004
Seattle, WA


The Seattle Times
May 2, 2004

Seattle, WA

  April 7 (Wed) New York, NY
    12 (Mon) Pittsburgh, PA
    13 (Tue) Washington DC
    14 (Wed) Raleigh, NC
    15 (Thu) Lexington, KY
    16 (Fri) Indianapolis, IN
    19 (Mon) Battle Creek, MI
    20 (Tue) Minneapolis, MN
    21 (Wed) St. Louis, MO
    22 (Thu) Little Rock, AR
    23 (Fri) Jackson, MS
    26 (Mon) Denver, CO
    27 (Tue) Los Angeles, CA
    28 (Wed) San Francisco, CA
    29 (Thu) Portland, OR
    30 (Fri) Seattle, WA
  May 4 (Tue) Honolulu, HI
    10 (Mon) Boston, MA
  About Robert Whiting  
  Robert Whiting is the author of several highly acclaimed books on contemporary Japanese culture, especially through the sport of baseball, including The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (Dodd, Mead, NY 1977), You Gotta Have Wa (Macmillan, NY 1989), Slugging It Out In Japan (Kodansha International, Tokyo 1991), and Tokyo Underworld (Panthen 1999). In both the U.S. and Japan, he has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, delivered lectures at universities and other organizations, and appeared in the number of televeision documentaries. Whiting was born in New Jersey in 1942, raised in California and graduated from Tokyo's Sophia University. He has spent 27 of the past 40 years in Japan where he currently resides with his wife, Machiko Kondo, in Kamakura, Kanagawa.  
Tour Sponsors
Warner Books, Japan/Japan-America Societies, National Association of Japan-America Societies, The Tokyo Club, and US-Japan 150 Founding Sponsors: AFLAC, ANA, Pfizer, and Toyota.


U.S.-Japan 150th Anniversary Project Sponsors

U.S.-Japan 150th Anniversary Project and all its programs are made possible by the generous contributions from AFLAC, ANA-All Nippon Airways, Pfizer, Toyota, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Noevir and SONY.


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