The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Ryo Ishikawa & Hideki Matsuyama: shining spirit of youth amidst the earthquake

Ryo Ishikawa & Hideki Matsuyama: shining spirit of youth amidst the earthquake

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ryo Ishikawa 
Ryo Ishikawa

The greens of Augusta and the majestic beauty of the Masters tournament is the pinnacle of all golf tournaments.  Augusta simply means golf and just like Wimbledon in tennis, you will not find a more prestigious golf tournament to win. 

However, for golf players from Japan the 2011 Masters tournament is a roller coaster of emotions and for all the wrong reasons.  In the days ahead, if they do well, then the passion of the Masters will stir within their veins and for brief moments all things will be golf. 

Yet within the deep soul of the players from Japan is the knowledge that more than 20,000 citizens have been swept away by the violent tsunami which was unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake. 

Despite all the bleak news of dead bodies being found daily, power shortages, no running water, refugee style camps, and other horrendous news which is reported alongside the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant; the youth of Japan is shining within Ryo Ishikawa and Hideki Matsuyama.

Ryo Ishikawa is nineteen years old and the Bashful Prince (Hanikami Oji) is already a household name in Japan and his fame is spreading to other nations. Hideki Matsuyama, who is not so famous, is eighteen years old and his talent is gradually being seen by more individuals after each new tournament because it is clear that he is gifted, just like Ryo Ishikawa.

However, both players are showing a different gift amongst the pain, anguish, and sorrow which can be felt throughout Japan but especially in northeastern Japan where the tragedy struck. 

This applies to their humanity, comments, and actions, which are much wiser than their years would indicate. Ryo Ishikawa and Hideki Matsuyama are showing the tenacious spirit of Japanese youth and this bodes well for the future of Japan.

Yes, it is too simplistic to judge two individuals and claim that they represent all the youth of Japan. However, many young Japanese people are volunteering or helping in other ways. This applies to local youths who have survived the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan and to trendy youngsters who are involved in the “Mighty Harajuku Project” in fashion conscious Harajuku in Tokyo.

Therefore, to find the Hanikami Oji to be so compassionate and understanding is a bright sign that the youth of Japan is going in the right direction and with players like Ryo Ishikawa they can show “the soft power” of Japan. 

Ryo Ishikawa stated that “People are lining up for food and water, three or four hours, just to make a neat line” and “As I watch these things and listen to the media report on the endurance of the Japanese people, how calm they are, I am very proud to be Japanese.”

These words were expressed through an interpreter and the seriousness of how he feels can be viewed by his actions, behavior, and comments.  True to his nature, Ryo Ishikawa announced that he would donate all his 2011 money that he earns, alongside extra money for each birdie he scores, to relief agencies that are on the frontline and helping so many people.

It is wrong to focus on the amount that this will be because it clearly will be very high.  More important is the compassion he shows, searching within his soul, showing solidarity with people who have lost so much, and showing the people of Japan and the world that the youth of Japan is “responsible, tenacious, and sincere.”

Ryo Ishikawa is a representation of the tens of thousands of young volunteers and young people who are donating to the disadvantaged and helping in “Japan’s hour of need.”   

Another young golf player from Japan, Hideki Matsuyama, who is the amateur champion of Japan, is also showing a spirit of resilience and tenacity beyond his years.

Hideki Matsuyama knows full well the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami because he attends a university in Sendai and this city within Miyagi prefecture was badly hit and the tsunami killed many thousands of people in Miyagi. 

He, like other teenagers in Sendai, searched the devastated city for friends and news about family members.  Currently, it appears that not all have been found and Hideki Matsuyama stated that “I couldn’t believe this was the city where I live………..It was devastated. Just beyond imagination.”

Hideki Matsuyama stated “I’m here for the people who made me who I am” and Ryo Ishikawa stated “I am very proud to be Japanese” after highlighting the endurance of Japanese people who are waiting in line for hours and waiting patiently and enduring their hardship.

These two young teenage golf players clearly understand the pain and sorrow which is being felt in many communities in northeastern Japan and clearly this pain is felt by many people throughout Japan.

They are also showing the tenacious spirit of youth and their words and actions augur well for the future of Japan.

This applies to their dedication, tenaciousness, and knowing how blessed they are and their actions show once more, that in the darkness of tragedy comes fresh hope despite pain, sorrow, and anguish. (please visit) (Website about Ryo Ishikawa)

PS – Hideki Matsuyma at 18 years of age made the cut at the Masters Tournament – he currently studies in a city which was hit by the earthquake and tsunami – but showed the tenacious spirit of youth and made the Masters cut.

Ryo Ishikawa is also in a good position but yet to start day two.

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