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Japanese Rules: Japan and the Beautiful Game [Paperback]

Sebastian Moffett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 May 2002
Who needs football? A little over 10 years ago the Japanese decided they did. After treating it as an irrelevant sport for over 100 years they launched a national project aimed at enrolling themselves as one of the world's football powers. In true Japanese style, they were determined to get everything right and money was the least of their problems. When the professional J.League was set up in 1993, it was hyped and financed by some of the country's most high-profile organisations, while world stars such as Zico and Gary Lineker added colour. Foreign coaches from Arsene Wenger to Ossie Ardiles were brought in to pass on their experience, and Japanese players wanting greater immersion headed for Europe and South America to learn for themselves. Even the fans studied, scrutinising the crowds in satellite TV broadcasts to learn the best way to support their teams. But, Japan didn't just want a new professional sports league to provide entertainment. Football was a way to change the country itself, to make it more like what the Japanese call "the world" - the world outside Japan. Football would make the Japanese internationally-minded, creative, expressive - everything they were not, but felt they needed to be. J.League founder Saburo Kawabuchi described the league as an attempt at "social revolution". The climax of these efforts comes in June 2002, when Japan co-hosts the World Cup. As the world counts down to this historic competition - the first to be held outside Europe or the Americas - Japanese Rules shows what worked, what didn't and why.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press (2 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224062050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224062053
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,083,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Astute, fascinating book that examines Japanese culture through football.

From the Publisher

Astute, and timely book that examines Japanese culture through football.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese Rules 27 Oct 2002
Format:Paperback
This book is absoulutley brilliant, providing you are a fan of football. You would also find this a great read if you are a World Cup fan. The book is based on yes you guessed it Japan, and football in Japan. It also has a little bit on Japanese Culture which is very interesting. I really liked the way the book was written.It contained interviews with people asking them their opinions, but at the same time put across the correct information. My one critisism would be that i was hoping for more about the 2002 world cup bid. If you are a fan of football or have visited Japan I can promise you will find this book interesting
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4.0 out of 5 stars A nice primer to the Japanese game 17 April 2011
By Jared M
Format:Paperback
Despite being in existence for only 17 odd years, the J-League has firmly established itself as one of the better national leagues, indeed the dominant East Asian league, despite lacking the football pedigree of neighbouring South Korea. After all, South Korea was regularly appearing at the World Cup finals well before Japan, and its own K-League was in place as early as 1983. Now, in 2011, the J-League is placed 27th, two places ahead of the K-League, on the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) list of strongest national leagues (predictably, Spain's La Liga is top, followed by the English Premier League and Italy's Serie A). Sebastian Moffett's "Japanese Rules" goes some way in explaining how this was achieved.

Ultimately, as one may expect, it was the drive and enthusiasm of certain individuals that put in place the framework that ultimately led to the formation of the J-League. Moffett introduces us not only to these movers and shakers in the Japanese world, but also the key imports, players and managers, that raised the bar in setting an example of professionalism for the Japanese players to follow in the newly established J-League. These imports, Lineker, Wenger, Dunga, Zico and others all had to contend with cultural barriers and other difficulties as they attempted to introduce and instill modern day attitudes to playing the game in a country where saving "face' is a key driver (among other things of course) for Japanese behaviour.

The implementation of the J-League was not smooth sailing. After an initial flurry of success, in which crowd attendances soared, and the national team qualified for the 1998 World Cup, the league fell into the doldrums as Japan underwent an economic slump.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-written, well-researched 9 Mar 2006
By Count Zero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Moffett does a fine job of explaining the why and what of Japanese soccer culture. Having lived and played football in Japan since 1989, I've witnessed first-hand the change from a country where football was not even a blip on the sports radar, to a nation that made the quarter-finals of the last World Cup, and in Nakata had one of the top-five wage-earners in Italy's Serie A. The effect on the national psyche has been profound. In conjunction with the exodus of top names in baseball to the Majors, the exporting of top football talent to the European leagues has created a tier of Japanese youth who are confident, ambitious and enthusiastic about playing an international role in their chosen pursuits, be it sports or otherwise. These young people grew up watching Nakata regularly get the better of world-class names, and then appear on TV giving interviews in fluent Italian afterwards. Pardon the metaphor, but the advent of the J-League moved the goalposts in terms of life expectations for these young people in comparison with the preceding generation.

Quite how all that came about is laid out step-by-step in delicious detail by Moffett. He doesn't shy away from the unsavoury elements; the 'tough love' approach coaches have used to justify physical beatings, the misogyny of some supporters. I came away with a far better understanding of why the J-League had to happen, and happen in the way that it did.

In future editions, I'd like to see Moffett update the book to include some of these elements: (1) Why the two-stage format was dropped and then brought back again. Relatedly, why there were no draws in the initial years, with tied games going to sudden-death. (2) An explanation of why TV commentators who do not understand soccer are still used. In the early days, this made sense, as the commentator was a surrogate viewer learning the game from his 'expert' sidekick analyst. These days, however, it just seems bizarre to persist with a commentator who clearly doesn't understand the offside rule. (3) A more detailed analysis of the high-school tournament that attracts so much media attention.
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice primer to the Japanese game 17 April 2011
By Jared M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Despite being in existence for only 17 odd years, the J-League has firmly established itself as one of the better national leagues, indeed the dominant East Asian league, despite lacking the football pedigree of neighbouring South Korea. After all, South Korea was regularly appearing at the World Cup finals well before Japan, and its own K-League was in place as early as 1983. Now, in 2011, the J-League is placed 27th, two places ahead of the K-League, on the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) list of strongest national leagues (predictably, Spain's La Liga is top, followed by the English Premier League and Italy's Serie A). Sebastian Moffett's "Japanese Rules" goes some way in explaining how this was achieved.

Ultimately, as one may expect, it was the drive and enthusiasm of certain individuals that put in place the framework that ultimately led to the formation of the J-League. Moffett introduces us not only to these movers and shakers in the Japanese world, but also the key imports, players and managers, that raised the bar in setting an example of professionalism for the Japanese players to follow in the newly established J-League. These imports, Lineker, Wenger, Dunga, Zico and others all had to contend with cultural barriers and other difficulties as they attempted to introduce and instill modern day attitudes to playing the game in a country where saving "face' is a key driver (among other things of course) for Japanese behaviour.

The implementation of the J-League was not smooth sailing. After an initial flurry of success, in which crowd attendances soared, and the national team qualified for the 1998 World Cup, the league fell into the doldrums as Japan underwent an economic slump. Some teams merged, or disappeared altogether, much to the disappointment of the fans. The buy in of the fans is critical to the success of any new sporting venture, and the J-League was no exception. As related by Moffett, many supporter clubs looked to the South American cultures for inspiration. Moffett interviewed the leaders of many supporter clubs for their insight into the workings of their clubs and how they perceived the fans of other clubs.

By no means encyclopedic (which makes it easy to read), "Japanese Rules" serves not only as a cultural guide to football in Japan but also as a history, up until 2002 at least, of the J-League, and its precursors, as well as the state of Japan's international football. The only drawback to "Japanese Rules" is that it is relatively dated. However, given the dearth of books on this particular subject, one has to make do. In fact, the only other populist book on Japanese football that I'm aware of, in English at least, is ULTRA NIPPON: HOW JAPAN REINVENTED FOOTBALL, which focuses on the Shimizu S-Pulse and is also definitely worth looking at, although like "Japanese Rules", it is dated. Now, if only someone would produce a similar book on the K-League...
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