Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Autograph: Yuki Kawabata

Sports in Japan are certainly co-ed. Most junior high and high school students will either join a club or play school sports of some kind. In elementary school, kids will usually do several extracurricular activities, like learning a musical instrument, taking ballet lessons, or playing soccer. Add to that a decent PE curriculum including very important Sports Day competitions, and it's difficult to find someone who didn't at least try a sport of some kind during their childhood.

That said, men's sports are still basically men's sports. The major league sports are men-only: baseball, sumo wrestling (okay, not a league, but still...), soccer, basketball. Women play these sports, but there's rarely a true full professional league - the national teams are popular and especially talked about during international competitions, but there aren't many places to see women's sports competitions in Japan.

Except baseball.

So, I just contradicted myself there - baseball still is essentially a man's sport. I haven't heard of any girls playing in the Koshien high school tournament. In fact, as of the 2016 season, girls weren't permitted to be on the field and I don't know if that's changed. There are a few women who have made names playing in the semi-pro leagues (Ayumi Kataoka, manager of the Ibaraki Golden Golds, is the most well-known these days, along with Eri Yoshida, a knuckleball pitcher).

And there's the JWBL. I've posted about it before, so I won't go into too much detail, but when it comes to stars in that league, there is no name bigger than local lady Yuki Kawabata.

I say local because Saitama is the closest team to where I live now, and very close to where I used to live. In fact, their games were played not too far from my former apartment.

Anyway, she's probably the best player in the four-team league, and I'd argue the most popular as well. She had a .406 batting average in 2011, and in 2013 bested that with a .431 average. While her 2016 statistics showed an "off" year of .327, this season she hit .397, bringing her career average up to .377. That's pretty impressive, I'd say.
This is from aiaio, the company which creates cards for all of the teams' players, but not a pack-based set. Unfortunately, they don't sell sets, it seems (one year I was able to get one, but they're not exactly readily available). To get cards, you have to trade with the players, making it quite difficult to get everyone's cards. But Yuki signed this card, so I can knock her off my want list!

I still haven't decided if I want to torture myself by trying to get a full set of the JWBL Epoch autographs from 2016 - that's 79 cards (or 78 if you ignore the celebrity autograph). Epoch didn't issue a set in 2017, so that may have been just a one-off set. But I hope it comes back in 2018!


  1. > if you ignore the celebrity autograph
    BBM and Epoch both refuse to allow you to ignore Ami Inamura (she's kind of hard to ignore anyway...)

    Three biggest Japanese card disappointments last year was BBM dropping the Classic set, Calbee not doing a Series Three because of the potato famine and Epoch not doing a JWBL set.

    1. I agree that Ami is easy on the eyes.

      And I definitely agree that Classic and JWBL sets really should have happened. I understand Calbee's dilemma though it would have been nice to see them do something else.

  2. Japanese women and baseball. I can't think of a better combination... and I've been a peanut butter and jelly guy my entire life.

    1. Peanut butter and chocolate! Reese's for life.