• Baseball

Hideki Kuriyama Honored in Hokkaido Parade for Samurai Japan’s WBC Victory

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hideki Kuriyama, center, responds to cheers from people during a parade to honor his role in Samurai Japan’s victory at the World Baseball Classic, in Kuriyama, Hokkaido, on Sunday.

SAPPORO — A parade to honor Hideki Kuriyama, who as skipper led Samurai Japan to victory at the World Baseball Classic this year, was held Sunday in Kuriyama, Hokkaido, filling the town’s streets with local residents and baseball fans from various parts of the country.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Kuriyama, 62, departed from in front of JR Kuriyama Station on the back of a light truck for the parade, which stretched about 400 meters.

He responded to cheers from the crowd by joyfully raising his hands in the air. Some of the parade spectators were holding signs that read “Thank you for moving us” and “Congratulations on being No. 1 in the world,” among other messages.

A 10-year-old boy from Kita Ward, Sapporo, said he started playing baseball after watching the WBC and that he received Kuriyama’s autograph on a ball. “He looked powerful as the manager, but he also seemed kind,” the boy said.

Kuriyama has a special affinity with the town as its name is the same as his family name. This was his third parade in Kuriyama, after he led the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to the Pacific League title as manager in 2012 and after the Fighters won the Japan Series championship in 2016.

Ahead of the parade on Sunday, Mayor Manabu Sasaki honored Kuriyama as an honorary citizen of the town.