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By Becky Grey
BBC Sport in Yokohama
There’s a white plaque hidden from the trunk of Yokohama that is bustling , therefore hard to discover that the guy responsible for the creation has to ask for directions.
That guy is Mike Galbraith, a historian who’s spent the past decade trying to uncover the facts about Japan history.
The plaque is small in size however, as the World Cup closing in the stadium of the city draws closer using a rugby ball on top, it can bring in several fans.
And inside its inscription lies the seed of a striking story: one between an cricket game samurai and a long-running feud about the origins of a game currently taking Japan by storm. Sometimes history can be much more fantastical than fiction.
The love 72-year-old Briton Galbraith has for his subject is clear from the minute you meet with him. Our very first experience is on a platform at Shibuya station busy crossing. Where he is historian he has promised to take me.
A passionate guy bridles in the version of Japan’s rugby past. That he slips to his choice narrative. Occasionally, it is hard to keep up. We miss our stop.
But when we make it into the club – a low, white construction being fixed after a typhoon – he begins again from the beginning.
Ten decades back, Galbraith helped organise a tour Japan for a team that was British. A history graduate, he supplied to contribute a post on the roots of rugby.
The generally held opinion was that rugby had been introduced to Japan Edward Bramwell Clarke by two Cambridge graduates and Ginnosuke Tanaka before he got on the circumstance.
But Galbraith found signs that it had been played earlier.
An article dated 26 January 1866 talks of a”soccer” club, as rugby was famous afterward, based in the port of Yokohama.
That sooner than any club in Wales came into existence and was five years prior to England’s Rugby Football Union was set up.
Thrilled to have achieved the historian’s ultimate goal – finding a new source of proof – based Galbraith took his discovery of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club (YFBC) to the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU). However, he states,”they were not interested” and”insisted that Western infantry started in 1899″.
And he set out to change their thoughts.
He continued to gather proof, piecing together the story behind the invention of the team that was Japanese. Where the samurai have been in, this is.
In 1862, a Daimyo – a Japanese feudal lord – rode using a procession of his samurai when they came across a British merchant named Charles Lennox Richardson close to Yokohama.
“After lords passed through, local folks would get back on their hands and knees and kiss the floor,” says Galbraith.
“There’s some discussion about what occurred but the short version is Richardson didn’t get off his horse because he was likely to do and the samurai slashed him and he expired.
“Afterward all pandemonium let loose”
To end back a little farther: For over two centuries, Japan had had Japanese people or relations and trade with different countries, not permitting foreigners to input.
A United States Navy Commodore called Matthew Perry came in the 1850s and a treaty had been signed under threat of force to bring this policy to a finish.
When Yokohama’s interface opened to police, a small number of soldiers had been shipped to Japan to protect the consulate.
There had been navy boats in Yokohama but after Richardson’s death, it had been decided a British presence was needed to protect settlers in the area.
According to Galbraith, worries continued to climb before in 1863 there was that a decree issued saying that foreigners must depart Japan under pain of death.
This requires us into the narrative of this armed cricket game.
After his discovery of this YFBC, Galbraith found yet another piece of the puzzle involving the Royal Navy. An article describes neighborhood people in 1863 and a cricket game involving officers.
“The odd thing about the particular cricket match is that the gamers were carrying firearms because they believed they might be assaulted,” Galbraith says.
“I think this cricket match was performed on the first day following the deadline when farmers needed to depart Japan.
“The wicketkeeper has been carrying out a pistol. He set it behind the stumps, took balls then went down the other end.”
As if this sport of cricket weren’t strange enough, this article also says”half the people were playing football”. Galbraith considers”football” this is talking about a early form of what would now be known as rugby.
So 1866 may be the date that the first rugby club of Japan was initially formed, but it appears the game was being played in 1863. But these 2 posts were not enough to convince the governing body of Japanese rugby. Galbraith kept hunting.
He discovered a sketch of a match involving English and Scottish expats living in Yokohama at a magazine printed in 1874, three decades following the first soccer international between the two groups had been played.
Some might question which game the articles referred to as the term soccer was used to describe both soccer and back then.
But there isn’t any doubt about an 1873 article Galbraith uncovered at The Japan Weekly Mail which claims someone”grabbed the ball, made a good run throughout his competitors and, using a fine fall kick, scored a goal”.
Certainly that could be proof enough to convince everybody rugby was performed before 1899 in Japan? It may be.
After working as a writer Galbraith now develops software to help employees find English to conduct meetings with clients.
However he says he’d rather concentrate on history. His passion for the subject led him to finish a masters in sports history and civilization in 2017, an experience that he describes as”very hard”.
The start of the World Cup has done wonders for its own origin. After landing by the UK before the opening match on 20 Septemberhe travelled to the unveiling of the plaque in Yokohama.
The plaque reads:”The Birth Place of Soccer [Rugby] at Japan – Yokohama. The Yokohama Foot Ball Club was set near this place on 26 January 1866.”
None apart from JRFU president Shigetaka Mori a sign introduced it that Galbraith’s story is finally becoming approved.
An article he wrote on rugby history was distributed to schools in Yokohama, as well as the plaque along with 100,000 copies have been printed to be handed out from the stores of the city.
So can Galbraith eventually stop fighting now?
He stocks a Japanese proverb, as we walk down the hill away from the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club, of which YFBC turned into a part in 1884.
“?????????????????????”, which means”three years sitting on a stone”. It is used to advise people to become patient.
Galbraith has certainly been . He has waited and appeared to share his story. On the afternoon the snow was discharged, he managed to say:”I’ve been hanging on a rock for ten years and I am very pleased to be able to eliminate that stone.”
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