First Run Features presents

A Documentary by Ema Ryan Yamazaki

Japan's Field of Dreams

Streaming begins March 2 on Apple TV, iTunes & Amazon

First Run Features presents the Streaming Premiere of Ema Ryan Yamazaki's feature documentary, Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams, beginning March 2, 2021.

Baseball is life for the die-hard competitors in the 100th annual Koshien, Japan's wildly popular national high school baseball championship, whose alumni include U.S. baseball star Shohei Ohtani and former Yankee Hideki Matsui. But for Coach Mizutani and his players, cleaning the grounds and greeting their guests are equally important as honing their baseball skills.
In director Ema Ryan Yamazaki's dramatic and intimate journey to the heart of the Japanese national character, will those acts add up to victory or prove a relic of the past?
"Compelling and illuminating! Its heartbreaking agonies and hard-earned ecstasies make 'Koshien' eminently worth watching."
-Mark Schilling, Japan Times
Directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki
94 minutes, color, 2019
In Japanese w/ English subtitles
Streaming Launch Date: March 2, 2021
by Ema Ryan Yamazaki

Growing up in Japan of mixed-race, I had many reservations about the Japanese way. After high school, I moved to New York to study film and begin my career as a documentary director and editor. Unexpectedly, while I learned so many valuable things in America, I also gained a deeper appreciation for Japan – such as the trains running on time, people patiently lining up, consideration of others, and a sense of personal responsibility. These traits, learned from a young age, are so normal in Japan that they are taken for granted.

After directing my first feature film (about the creators of Curious George), I vowed to return to the place of my birth to tell stories about that would both bring a deeper understanding of the Japan to the rest of the world, but also provide Japanese people with a new perspective on what makes them unique and that they should value in themselves. Koshien, the colorful national high school baseball tournament that captivates Japan every summer, provided an ideal context – helmets in a perfect line, strict adherence to rules, team-first mentality – an extreme microcosm of Japanese society itself. As a society’s strengths may also its weaknesses, in recent years Koshien culture had been forced to re-examine its values.

Japan is facing a crucial moment in time as the nation at a crossroads struggles to find the balance between “character building” traditions and more moderate ways to educate the next generation of successful adults. Much of the struggle Japan faces is universal – how to keep tradition while adapting to the influences of globalization, and how to honor where we have come from while facing a future that is no longer the same. I often feel that Japan is only known for specific things internationally – sushi, anime, and salarymen, to name a few. I hope that this film provides a more complicated and human view of Japanese people, and provides hints of understanding of why Japan is the way it is – where it has come from and where it might be headed.
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