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Ultra Nippon: How Japan Reinvented Football Paperback – 1 Mar 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; New edition edition (1 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747264090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747264095
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,315,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Think you've read it all when it comes to football? This book will certainly provide a new angle.

When one thinks of footballers plying their trade on foreign shores, rarely does Japan come to mind. Serie A in Italy, or Spain's Primera Liga, maybe, but the J-League? An ageing Gary Linker apart, most fans would struggle to name any European or South American footballing luminaries who have packed their boots and headed to the Far East.

Yet the surprise uncovered by Ultra Nippon is that there are many from football's first world earning a living in the J-League, playing, coaching and even refereeing.

Adding himself to the western contingent hooked up with the fortunes of the Japanese game, Jonathan Burchill has come up with a story which provides the ultimate contrast to standard football fare. For starters, you don't get teams called Grampus Eight, Shimizu S-Pulse, and Kyoto Purple Sanga just anywhere. And that's not the only contrast.

Birchall's odyssey takes in samba bands and giant parrots in a football world devoid of hooliganism. Organised dancing, not fighting, is clearly all the rage at Japanese grounds, and as the story unfolds the effect that Japan's national history, and culture and characteristics have had on the integration of the game become clear.

For much of the last few decades, the Western world has looked East with astonishment, at achievements economic and technological. In the football world, the pattern is different. Japan, with little confidence, looks West for its lead on the pitch, even if everything else surrounding the game seems from another world. Such a culture of deference appears to run right through the Japanese game.

Its influence has provided a bizarre canvas on which the author has painted a fine picture, making essential reading for the thinkers in the football fraternity. Planet football could and can easily be very different.

For any fan thinking otherwise, this should be compulsory reading. --Trevor Crowe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jonathan Birchall has been BBC correspondent in the Far East for more than a decade and has written on sport and politics for the Financial Times, Guardian and many other publications.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jared M on 6 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
East Asian football has come in leaps and bounds in the past decade, as exemplified by the appearances in the past four Football World Cups in which both Japan and South Korea have both featured. Initially, both countries were easy beats, but now have credibility on the international stage, both sides having made the knockout phase in two of the past three World Cups competing against European and South American nations which have a much superior pedigree in football. Key to this has been the establishment of professional football leagues in both countries, which allows for development and exposure for domestic players. Although South Korea's K-League was up and running first (1983), Japan's J-League (formed in 1993) is the more highly regarded of the two professional leagues.

Jonathan Birchall, an English journalist formerly based in Japan, has written a passionate account of his year following the J-League. Amidst the rigid and formal structure of Japanese society, there is a niche culture that surrounds the clubs that play in the J-League. Birchall does a fine job in immersing himself and exploring that culture in "Ultra Nippon: How Japan Reinvented Football". In preparing this book, Birchall has not only talked to the fans, but also to the players and managers. In this way, the reader gains a perspective of the life of a journeyman football player, those who leave their own shores to seek a better life offshore, as well as the personalities of the fans and supporters. Like most professional leagues, the J-League has its fair share of Brazilian players, three of which feature in the team Birchall follows, the Shimizu S-Pulse.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "jwelch75" on 23 Mar. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read. its not your run of the mill soccer book, but is a refreshig change to the norm. its well worth a read and definately worth buying. if you like soccer, you will like this.
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Format: Hardcover
Ultra Nippon is an ultra great read. This book provides insights on a culture that is often considered to be enigmatic. You find yourself completely entertained, but when you put the book down, you also realize you have learned quite a lot.
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Format: Hardcover
If you love soccer you're going to love this one. Beautifully well-written, once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. Enjoyable from start to finish.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 May 2002
Format: Paperback
In the summer of the World Cup, this is the book to introduce everyone to the culture of Japan. This book shows what football is to the Japanese fan and how a transplanted sport can create its own unique flavour.
Read this book before you go to Japan to watch the World Cup and you will get an insight into how football became the life for many fans of one of the World Cup host nations.
This book follows the season of one Japanese team and its ultra-loyal fans. It is written with rare sympathy and great deal of humour. You may find yourself wondering maybe we should try follow our teams the same way.
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