Cartoonist: Osamu Yamamoto, Harukanaru-Koshien(遥かなる甲子園)

22 4月

There was a deaf school that ran for just six years (1977-1983) in Okinawa; Japan.
The name of the school was the Kitashiro School for the Deaf.

The rubella children in Okinawa during 1960’s, as explained by Karen Nakamura  in her book “DEAF in JAPAN:Singing, Policies, and identities”, (Nakamura, K. (2006), 66-88 page) result from an epidemic called rubella which spreaded widely into the United States. At the same time, Okinawa had some cases, and recorded 300 babies with multiple disabilities from the Rubella virus may be (the cause for the symptoms: contract, deafness/hearing loss).

The Kitashiro School for the Deaf was established as a countermeasure by the Japanese government with the sudden increase in number of deaf children falling behind in academic competition at mainstream schools.

So that school just ran for six years.

The school became well-known as a model of the fictional school, named the Fukusato School for the Deaf by Osamu Yamamoto’s comic book, Harukanaru Koshien(遥かなる甲子園)

According to Nakamura (page:68) Harukana Koshien also means “roughly, Koshien[Stadium] ever so far away”,

A cartoonist, Osamu Yamamoto is also well known for an another of his cartoons called Wagayubino O-kesutora(我が指のオーケストラ)  Surprisingly, the books were already translated in French! and I could not find any original link for those books. To find the link, knowledge of French Language might be required.  Anyone interested in finding this info,  let me know?)

Anyway, the original story for the book, Harukana Koshien was written by Ryoya Tobe in 1980.

What made this story special?
Because deaf children from the rubella epidemic (風疹児) in the 1960’s entered the deaf school and aimed for the national summer baseball competition because most deaf players already played with hearing kids in mainstream schools.

As the text in the upper frame shows, deaf people weren’t allowed to play because of section 4 of the School Education Law, and people were strongly opposed to the deaf school attending the summer baseball competition, saying “its too dangerous”. Thus, deaf students had to give up their eligibility for the summer baseball competition.  It is what happened during the 1980s to 1990s.

In the website called deaf people in Manga(マンガの中の聴覚障害者) it explains that the cartoon writer, Osamu Yamamot himself appears on the book, and describes how he learned about this story, and he said

“This is not just a matter of playing baseball”

Yamamoto even wrote it in his book.

(The man on the swing is Osamu Yamamoto, telling his friend “This is not just a matter of playing baseball” from the 9 volume. 142 page by Osamu Yamamoto)

Yamamoto visited Mr. Inami, the former coach for the baseball team of the Fukusato School for the Deaf to interview and document in his books.

In every scene of those books, his pictures are wonderful and touching but what’s more, those books are the first attempt of NON-FICTION IN FICTION about deaf peoples’ lives in Japan.

The owner of the website People with disabilities in Manga(マンガの中の障がい者) says that Osamu Yamamoto’s book impacted the next generation of cartoonists and Japanese publishing companies by “Drawing what actually happened”

This comment was repeated by Osamu Yamamoto in his books.

If you are curious to see his touching st0ries and drawings, go to the official website called Hutabasha, and paste these Japanese words without the brackets, [山本おさむ] in the field, then click the search button! You will see his books on the site.

Then click the button as the below picture shows.

Then, you may read some pages of the book! Yay! FREE preview!

Let me know if one of you are interested in publishing his book in the U.S! (I would love to see those books in English!)

The Japanese Student Baseball Law(日本学生野球憲章) changed in 2010, and basically all high schools under the Education Law may join the Japanese High School Baseball Federation (日本高等学校野球連盟), and may join the Summer Baseball  competition.  Out of the dilemma of a prohibiting law for different kinds of schools, it was transformed into the side of advocating students’ human rights, rather than saying “too dangerous” or “because you go to a special education school”.

The director: Yutaka Osawa (1990) “Harukana Koshien”

Check out this book if you are interested in the book “DEAF in JAPAN Singing, Policies, and identities” by Karen Nakamura.



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