1,200 Fans Laud Samurai Japan at Narita Airport

The Yomiuri shimbun
Samurai Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama, left, and catcher Yuhei Nakamura are welcomed at Narita Airport on Thursday afternoon.

NARITA, Chiba — Japan’s World Baseball Classic-winning team was met by about 1,200 cheering fans when they arrived on a chartered flight at Narita Airport that landed just after 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Manager Hideki Kuriyama led the 80-member entourage — minus the team’s four major leaguers, who remained behind to join spring training with their respective clubs — as they emerged in the arrival lobby around 4 p.m. to shouts of “Thank you, Samurai Japan!” and “Congratulations!”

“We had tough games that could have gone either way, but the players all played their roles and we were able to win,” Kuriyama said at a press conference shortly after arriving.

“It was a great tournament, and this is a great team. All I can say to them is, ‘Thank you.’ I also say thank you with all my heart to all of the baseball fans.”

The team defeated the defending champion United States 3-2 in the final on Tuesday night in Miami to regain the title it last won in 2009.