MOVIES

The Vancouver Asahi
Release Date : December 20, 2014

Story

This is a tale, based on a true story, of the Vancouver Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian baseball team, and the people who lived in the city’s ‘Japantown’ in the years prior to World War II. Around the beginning of the 20th century, thousands of Japanese dreaming of riches crossed the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of Canada. Awaiting them there, however, was backbreaking manual labour and a life of poverty. Since many had come only for the money and were willing to work cheap, Canadian workers saw them as stealing jobs. Unable to speak English, and in the face of racial discrimination often unwilling to learn, they made little attempt to assimilate and over the years their relationship with native-born Canadians hardened into one of mutual dislike. It was a difficult time: these immigrants had no political rights, were limited in the types of work and business they could engage in, and faced a variety of other restrictions in their daily lives. In this environment, Japanese-Canadians in Vancouver’s ‘Japantown’ formed a baseball team. The ‘Asahi’, as they called themselves, were no match for the bigger and stronger white players on other teams, but gradually they evolved a style they called ‘brain ball’, relying on superlative fielding, bunts, and swift base-running. With this new style came victory, and they became a powerhouse in the amateur leagues of the West Coast. Starting out as simply a baseball team, they soon came to represent the hopes and dreams of the restricted community from which they had come, and the combination of their small stature with their energy and sportsmanship won the approval of other Canadians as well. In time they became one of the most popular teams in the region. But then everything changed. As baseball is a sport that bridges the gap between cultures, the tale of the Vancouver Asahi should have been one of disparate groups coming together. But with their ancestral homeland’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese-Canadians were classified as enemy aliens and sent to internment camps. The Vancouver Asahi disbanded, and their story became a footnote to history. Then, 62 years later in 2003, the Asahi came back into the spotlight when they were enshrined with Canada’s major league baseball stars in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, the result of a growing sentiment among Canadians that their story should not be forgotten.

Cast

Satoshi Tsumabuki
Kazuya Kamenashi
Mitsuki Takahata
Aoi Miyazaki
Ryo Katsuji
Yusuke Kamiji
Sosuke Ikematsu
Shihori Kanjiya
Eri Ishida
Koichi Sato