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A Study on "Uruwashikitama," the Inspirational Episode of Zenzo Shimizu : Focusing on Yajima Kaneji, Who Wrote the Story

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  • 清水善造美談「美はしき球」に関する一考察 : 執筆者矢島鐘二の創出という視点から
  • シミズ ゼンゾウビダン ウルワシキタマ ニ カンスル イチ コウサツ シッピツシャ ヤジマ カネジ ノ ソウシュツ ト イウ シテン カラ

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Abstract

The story of Japanese tennis great Zenzo Shimizu's commendable behavior on the tennis court at the 1921 Davis Cup has been handed down to generations of Japanese school children. During a close championship match against an American team featuring tennis star Bill Tilden, Shimizu made a soft return of one of Tilden's shots because Tilden had slipped after making the shot. From this incident, Shimizu has been praised highly for his sportsmanship. The story was told in Japanese middle school textbooks before World War II and was adopted after the war for elementary school textbooks until the 1950's. However, an author began to doubt the truthfulness of the episode involving the two tennis legends, and there suddenly arose debate over whether or not the incident really happened. This study considers the authenticity of the event, focusing on Kaneji Yajima, who was the author that wrote the original account. The conclusion is summarized as follows: 1) Many of the accounts included in school textbooks had deviated from the writer's intension as they were handed down from textbook to textbook. Various adaptations were published by authors and editors who lost focus of the facts in relaying the moving events of the story. 2) In the post-war adaptations of the episode, the event occurred at the 1920 Wimbledon Tennis Championships rather than at the 1921 Davis Cup. In fact, a book was found which shows that Tilden slipped while playing against Shimizu during their 1920 match at Wimbledon. 3) Kaneji Yajima wrote his story in order to emphasize the instructive potential that sports has to offer. This study considers that Yajima created the inspirational story knowing full well that Tilden never slipped during the Davis Cup match. Yajima wanted to express an educational viewpoint that it is not good to stick to the extreme principle of competition and victory. The international event and Shimizu's fabled behavior embodied Yajima's ideal of athleticism and sportsmanship. A few historical facts about the incident have been successfully probed for accuracy, but there remains much conjecture and interpretation in this study. The matter calls for further investigation.

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