Sporting Hobbies and My Writing

Although I largely keep my sporting interests and hobbies separate from my academic ones on Twitter, for example, where I have two separate accounts, I sometimes do bring my hobbies into my writing, both my novels and my academic writing. In this post, I discuss my sporting hobbies.

Sometimes, the inclusion of my sporting hobby may be relatively subtle – in my first book, Education Reform in Japan: Nakasone’s Legacy, I had a chapter called ‘United and Successful’, referring to Sheffield United – the team I’ve been supporting since the 1989/90 (I had grown up in the countryside, where my local team was Shrewsbury Town, and although I had supported them, as a kid growing up in the 80s, my main team had been Liverpool).

Beautiful Down Town Bramall Lane (2020)

In my book, Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan, I managed to get a mention of Sheffield United into the main text (and its own index entry) and elsewhere more subtly. That book also saw the first mention of my favourite Japanese baseball team, Hanshin Tigers. Given that I write about Japan, it’s relatively easier to include them in my books than it is Sheffield United. Despite this, I still managed to get Sheffield United into my book Japan: The Basics – this time in a photograph.

Figure 7.2 of Japan: The Basics.

I have written two books related to the 1985 flight JL123 crash, Dealing with Disaster in Japan and Osutaka, and due to the high percentage of people from the area where Hanshin Tigers are based and that the president of the team was also on the flight, it was relatively straight forward to include mention of the Tigers in those books.

Koshien – home of the Hanshin Tigers (2016)

When it comes to my novels, in Hijacking Japan, I managed to include the Hanshin Tigers once again. But for Tokyo 20/20 Vision, I decided to include my other favourite sports team, Cincinnati Bengals – who I’ve been supporting since around 1984.

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver AJ Green taking a catch at Wembley in 2016

In Tokyo 20/20 Vision, I also included a chapter which had sumo in it (see also my post Sumo – Asageiko). Sumo has been a sport I’ve enjoyed watching since the mid-80s. My favourite rikishi were Mainoumi and I also supported Chiyotaikai, as he is a friend of a friend, from when his name was so low on the rankings you could hardly make it out. I plan to bring sumo more into my next academic book and may have to try to find ways to include my favourite rikishi.

One thing I haven’t yet included in any of my books is running – partly as it’s a hobby that I’ve come late to (for example, see my post about running the 2019 Cardiff Half-Marathon when I ran for Mind).

I will leave writing about my music interests and writing to another time, although there is some mention of it in the ‘About the book’ section of Hijacking Japan.

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