Japan really has a predilection for things ‘cutesy’. They do it pretty well too… Japanese anime is right at the forefront of animation. Riyo Mori is the current Miss Universe (and daaaaamn is she cute!), Kurara Chibana was runner-up last year (same). Banks use animation characters as their logos (some of the bigger ones actually have tie-ins with Disney, or Warner Bros.)… cuteness abounds in Japan, and the Japanese love ‘cute’.
And two of the latest to be added to this are both darlings of the house-wife set…
Firstly, the “Handkerchief Prince”, Yukio Saito. A right-handed pitcher of unremarkable stature, Saito first blasted on to the scene with a thrilling win in the High School Championships last year at Koshien Stadium (think NCAA March Madness in terms of hype), pitching for the prestigious Waseda Jitsugyo High School – leading them to a 4-1 win of the title game over Komadai High School.
Saito pitched 4 consecutive days, and was still hitting mid-90s on day 4. He had pitched 5 complete games in 14 days, and been used in relief many times in between. He had drawn as much attention for his use of a blue handkerchief to mop his sweaty brow as for his ability. Verily, Saito was dubbed ‘The Handkerchief Prince’… and he set the hearts aflutter of both housewives & schoolgirls alike.
The Handkerchief Prince went on to the prestigious Waseda University, and last Sunday (June 18th) lead the University to the first All-Japan Intercollegiate Championship in 33 years. He won 2 games in the tournament, and was given the MVP. He is the first freshman to be given the MVP award in the history of the tournament (56 years).
Despite only being of slight stature (5’9″, 154 pounds), Saito at nearly 19 has a fastball measured in the mid-90s, and an impressive array of off-speed pitches. Saito next heads to the US to represent Japan in the US/Japan University Games. This certainly is a ‘Prince’ that bears watching…
Tomorrow, part two of ‘Japan Loves Cute…’ (The Shy Prince – Ryo Ishikawa)