Cartoon entitled "Onna no Manako: Aki no Yoru wa Nagai",, from the November 11, 1964 issue of Shinfujin
Cartoon entitled “Onna no Manako: Aki no Yoru wa Nagai”,, from the November 11, 1964 issue of Shinfujin

One of my purchases in Jimbocho, the center for old books and magazines in Tokyo, is a copy of a popular woman’s magazine, Shinfujin (新婦人). The term “shinfujin” or “new woman” was a phrase that grew out of a feminist movement in Japan in the early 20th century. As Wikipedia states, shinfujin “denoted women who wore fashionable Western dress, socialized with men in public, and chose their own romantic partners.”

Shinfujin, 11 November1964
Shinfujin, 11 November1964

This particular issue was published a month after the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. In addition to a quick feature on the venues of the Olympic Games, it gives guidance on flower arrangement, fashion and the latest in stereo systems, for example. Towards the end of this issue is a striking cartoon about a single woman’s evening. It is surprisingly dark, with the illustration representing the start of the woman’s evening as the entrance into a snake’s mouth. A date turns into a leche, the train commute home is filled with gropers, and while she dreams of marriage, she cannot escape the nightmare of a snake.

The cartoon is drawn by someone called Inoue Yousuke, which is a man’s name. But I imagine the illustration still captured the unsaid thoughts of many women who read what appears to be a magazine targeting women of refinement.

Has Japan changed in 50 years?

Why does Japan today have train and subway cars that allow only women during rush hour?

womenonly

Ann Packer wins 800 meters.
Ann Packer wins 800 meters.

She wanted to go shopping.

Ann Packer had won the silver medal in the women’s 400 meters, finishing second to Australian, Betty Cuthbert. So instead of bothering with the 800-meter race, it was time to ease the disappointment with a trip into town. Her fiance, and captain of Team GB at the 1964 Tokyo Games, Robbie Brightwell, convinced Packer that she was here to compete, and that she should. So she did.

Packer had little experience in the 800 meters. And as you can see in this film clip, Packer was at the back of the pack for most of the race. But in the final two hundred meters, she climbed to third, and in a burst sprinted out a dominating finish. A world record finish, in fact.

Packer explained subsequently that the 800-meter race for women had only been introduced 4 years earlier in Rome, so not many women were experienced in this distance, and for her personally, she had no preconcpetions about how to run the race. But being naïve, and being a sprinter, was Packer’s advantage. As she later said, “ignorance proved to be bliss.”

Sport Illustrated also noted the Packer cool, a modesty and lack of concern about the bigness of the moment, and that her future husband had to re-emphasize to Packer that her achievements were indeed a big deal.

“But what is it, really?” Ann said. “So many have won medals. I don’t think it is better than doing anything else well. I won a gold medal because I ran twice around a track, that’s all.”

Brightwell looked at her. “I don’t think you realize

Weber Shandwick's City Soft Power Attributes
Weber Shandwick’s City Soft Power Attributes

Cities matter. They are flag carriers for nations, centers for universities and cultural influences, attractors for investment and tourists, as well as experiences for people living and visiting them. In other words, cities are brands. Thus explained Ian Rumsby, Chief Strategy Officer of Weber Shandwick Asia Pacific in a panel discussion entitled “The Growing Strength of Tokyo as a Global Brand”, on September 11, 2015.

At this talk for the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, Rumsby went on to explain that cities have assets, which contribute to their reputation over time. These assets sub-divide into two attributes: hard and soft power. Hard power is the military complex, the political stability and strength and the economic horsepower that support a city. Soft power is made up of attributes that encourage an environment of openness, diversity, livability, growth, sustainability, and creativity.

If Tokyo in 1964 was a successful opening act for Japan on the world stage, will Tokyo in 2020 be a thrilling revival?

As is cited in Weber Shandwick’s report, Engaging Cities – The Growing Relevance of Soft Power to Cities’ Reputations in Asia Pacific – the Tokyo Olympics will be the pinnacle of all the great investments Japan is making to build its brand.

In anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, “Tokyo is delivering on a number of smart investments that will enhance the sense of occasion for those visiting the city as much as the 13 million people who currently live there. Innovative sustainability initiatives are high on the agenda with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government laying out a clear 10-year plan to reduce

There are five more years before the Olympics come to Tokyo, but the commercials have begun. In these early stages, a few themes have emerged. Nomura and Yomiuri emphasize Excellence, while Sumitomo Mitsui Bank and NEC appeal to the Everyman who pursue excellence. Another theme is how the Olympics brings the world together, as does JAL in this case. And finally, there will be plenty of ways to spoof the majesty and drama of the Olympic Games, as does the recruiting company, Sanko. These are all in Japanese, but I think you will get the gist.

The securities company, Nomura, cuts to the essence of why Olympians work so hard, to the point of tears – Because they have a dream.

Yomiuri Shimbun, an established media company, focuses on how the very best emerge from competition, and that the success of the very best has the subsequent support of that competition, and that champions should be grateful for that support.

Sumitomo Mitsui Bank appeals to the everyday person by explaining that it isn’t just the Olympic athlete who gives it their all, we all do in our daily lives as well.

NEC, a large electronics and systems company stresses the pursuit of excellence in Olympic athletes and non-athletes alike.

The largest airline in Japan displays its long history with the Olympics, how it brought the

Japan TImes, October 11, 1964
Japan TImes, October 11, 1964

Tokyo was beaming in the coming-out party of the ages, the opening ceremony of the XVIII Olympiad, framing Japan as the rising star of Asia.

500 kilometers away in Osaka, the Nankai Hawks won the seventh game of the Japan Series over the Hanshin Tigers. The MVP of the series – Joe Donald Stanka.

Joe Stanka of the Nankai Hawks
Joe Stanka of the Nankai Hawks

I am a big baseball fan, but I drew a blank when I heard that name. Stanka graduated from Oklahoma State University and then spent a good part of his career in the minor leagues. He had a short turn in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox, appearing in two games, 5.5 innings and had a 1-0 career record. Then he took off for Japan, signing with the Nankai Hawks (currently known as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) for the start of the 1960 season.

In 1964, when baseball was merely an exhibition sport in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Joe Stanka had one of the greatest records in a baseball championship series you could imagine. In the seven-game series, he started four games and went 3-1, with three shut outs. In a word, he was dominant. Based on his 26-7 season, he went on to take MVP League honors, the first non-Japanese ever to receive that honor.

Stanka made $35,000 playing in Japan, and enjoyed his work-life balance. “There are six teams in the our league and three of them are in Osaka where we live,” he said, explaining why he likes to play ball in Japan. “I’m home most of the time.”

American pitcher Joe Stanka argues call with umpire after he thought he tossed strike to Giants Sadaharu Oh. The catcher is Katsuya Nomura, the Hawks triple crown champion.
American pitcher Joe Stanka argues call with umpire after he thought he tossed strike to Giants Sadaharu Oh. The catcher is Katsuya Nomura, the Hawks triple crown champion.
Japan Times, October 11, 1964
Japan Times, October 11, 1964

I was one. Exactly.

The day the Tokyo Olympics began.

It was a moment

of Pride

of Joy

of Hope

for all Japanese.

Roy around 1 years old, the only nude photo of him on the internet
Roy around 1 years old, the only nude photo of him on the internet

The song, “Konnichi wa, Akachan,” (“Hello, My Baby”) was one of the most popular songs of the time in Japan, and it’s cheerful melody and lyrics or promise represented the mood of the country when Japan welcomed the world.

Michiyo Azusa’s song sold over a million record from its debut in July 1963, written by the singer/composer duo who brought you the equally popular hit, Sukiyaki.

“Hello, my baby, it’s your life!

Hello, my baby, it’s your future!”

Japan was re-born, rising, literally, from the ashes of a tragic Pacific War. And in only one generation , Tokyo was bringing the hot spotlight on Asia for the first time with the debut of the biggest sporting spectacle in the world – the Olympic Summer Games.

When I was growing up in the US, it seemed like all the martial arts were perceived to be this polymorphous Asian judo/karate/kung fu sport that looked really cool on the big screen. I recall this scene from Hanna Barbera’s The Flinstones where Fred and Barney escape the alien bad guys delivering blows and shouting “judo chop chop!”

Here we are in the 21st century, and we’ve come a long way. Judo and taekwando are Olympic sports, while wushu was given strong consideration. A couple of weeks ago, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee recommended karate as one of five sports to be added to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The recommendations for karate would include “kata” and “kumite”. Kata is the display of sequences of movements that come together in patterns, and like Hanon’s exercises for piano, need to be practiced over and over and over again. Kumite is a sparring competition that includes punching, kicking and blocking. Assuming the IOC approves next year, there would be one medal awarded each to men and women in the kata events, and three medals each for men and women in the kumite events, depending on the weight class.

There is said to be 100 million karate practitioners worldwide, 185 national karate federations, with around 2,000 global karate events held per month. What that has led to are schisms as to what qualifies as karate. One school of karate is called “kyokushin-style” is a full-contact sport, where the head and face are as much a target as any other part of the body. In other words, this is a version of karate where the intent is to deliver pain.

Kyokushin is very popular, but the vision of blood and broken bones on the mats of the Budokan in 2020 probably did not appeal to the powers that be, so it is the light-contact version of kumite that has been recommended to the IOC. As NewsonJapan.com puts it, “Those from karate schools that practice full contact would be allowed to take part in the Olympics if the sport was included, but would have to abide by the non-contact rule and wear mouth guards, body protectors and padded gloves, as well as shin and foot guards.”

Karate will likely be in the 2020 Games. It’s so popular that surveys repeatedly show that people think that karate is already an Olympic sport. One of the internet phenomenons who have been increasing popularity of karate for kids is Mahiro Takano, who has scowled and screamed her way into our hearts. Here she is in this great commercial for Japanese retailer, Aeon. She’s only 8, so maybe we’ll see her stomp her way to glory in the 2020 Games.