Robert Whiting’s Japan podcast

Robert Whiting is an expert on Japanese culture, history, sports, the criminal underworld, among other topics. He has a million stories to tell about the things he’s observed in the decades he’s lived and worked in Japan as a student, author, columnist, journalist, lecturer and pundit.

In his timeless classic, “You Gotta Have Wa ” (published in 1989), Whiting wrote a brilliant book about the clash of cultures, Japanese and American, through the prism of Japanese pro baseball. The book remains an important guide for understanding how things operate in Japan.

Legendary journalist David Halberstam once said, “What you read (in You Gotta Have Wa) is applicable to almost every other dimension of American-Japanese relations.”

The Tokyo-based Whiting’s excellent Japanese language ability has enabled him to gain far deeper insights into the Japanese culture than most other foreigners who have moved to the East Asian nation.

This summer, Whiting began a new weekly podcast, “Robert Whiting’s Japan,” and, at the time of this writing on a rainy Monday evening, three episodes have been recorded and posted online.

On the podcasts, Whiting discusses a wide range of topics — current events, Olympic history, politics, sports, to name a few — with Jack Gallagher, a veteran sports journalist and former PR executive in the NBA and the World League of American Football. The two men have a strong rapport and their conversations flow with ease. This format gives Whiting a relaxed opportunity to talk about things he’s observed, experienced and remembered.

Whiting’s ability to recall details, big and small, about people, places and events that occurred in 1963 or 50 years later gives the listener an hour-long treat.

Here’s a link to the show’s Soundcloud page:

Here’s the podcast’s Facebook page:


Tyson-Douglas shocker revisited

In February, I wrote a five-part series on the 25th anniversary of the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight that appeared in The Japan Times print edition in February, plus two web-exclusive sidebars.

Here’s a link to the special report:

Her ultimate goal: Coaching in the NBA (Natalie Nakase’s dream)

By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (July 1, 2015) — Before joining the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant video coordinator, Natalie Nakase served a short stint as the head coach of the Saitama Broncos, a men’s basketball team in the bj-league (Basketball Japan League).

Here’s an in-depth feature I wrote on Nakase in February 2012:

A symbol of courage and the triumph of the human spirit

By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (June 29, 2015) — This in-depth report detailed the return of the Sendai 89ers to the bj-league after the March 11, 2011, disasters that caused widespread destruction to northern Japan.

In my report just under seven months later, I wrote: “Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture have begun the process of rebuilding, a task that will probably take decades. In this time, the 89ers and other sports team will play a role in giving people a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.”

The quintessential winner: Jeff Newton

By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (May 15, 2015) — In his nine seasons in the Basketball Japan League (bj-league), big man Jeff Newton won six titles and played in eight Final Fours.

The Indiana University alum’s all-around intelligence, defense, rebounding, rock-solid screens, alert passing and team-first play helped the Osaka Evessa, who captured titles in the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, and the Ryukyu Golden Kings, who won it all in the 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons, thrived year after year.

He didn’t need to take 30 shots a game to have a profound impact, though he was capable of scoring in bunches (50 points against Osaka in the Western Conference final in May 2009) and having jaw-dropping stats (a 40-point, 30-rebound effort earlier that season).

Newton revealed in an interview that he’s played his final game after not being brought back by the Golden Kings. It proved to be a bad move by the Kings, who failed to reach the Final Four for only the second time since they altered the course of their history by signing Newton and fellow superstar Anthony McHenry in 2008.

Here’s my report on Newton’s retirement and look back at his splendid career:

Related story:

The first chapter in Fukushima Firebonds history

A first-year franchise goes through a number of ups and downs and doesn’t have past collective experiences to draw upon.

So each expansion team has a unique story all its own.

Exhibit A: The Fukushima Firebonds.

This column about the Firebonds was posted on The Japan Times website earlier this week.