The National High School Baseball Championship of Japan, known as Koshien, is the biggest amateur sporting event in the country. Every August 52 teams from each of Japan's prefectures partake in the summer tournament. I was given permission to follow the Chiben Wakayama High School. I witnessed fraternity, conformity, and echoes of Japan's militant past. On the practice field, the players stretched and scrimmaged under the black skies of an approaching typhoon. At Koshien Stadium, cheerleaders positioned gloved hands as if casting incantations that might propel the team to victory, band members played each note like the key might determine the velocity of a pitch. Volunteers rushed to cool them all down with wet rags from ice water buckets. Koshien is a celebration of vitality and national pride through sport.

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