Chiayi City goes back in time for baseball movie

Staff writer, with CNA  / 

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - Page 5

A film crew has recreated downtown Chiayi City as it looked in the 1930s to tell the story of a Taiwanese baseball team that rose to near legendary status by excelling in a Japanese high-school baseball tournament.

The production crew for the movie Kano, named after the baseball team, spent NT$50 million (US$1.69 million) to replicate the 1930s Chiayi City in today’s downtown area.

Nagase Masatoshi, who plays the team’s Japanese coach, Hyotaro Kondo, said he was impressed by the large-scale set created by director Umin Boya, an indigenous Sediq who is also known by his Chinese name, Ma Chih-hsiang (馬志翔).

A set of that size is rare even in Japan, Masatoshi said.

The movie’s crew on Tuesday began shooting scenes of the triumphant Kano baseball team returning to Chiayi after winning a local high-school tournament in 1931, three years after it was created.

Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule at the time and sucess in the tournament earned the team the right to represent the nation in the Koshien Tournament, a prestigious Japanese high-school baseball competition, later that year.

Kano then shocked Japanese baseball circles by finishing as the tournament’s runner-up.

Kano tells the story of the rise of the team, which comprised a mixture of Japanese, ethnic Chinese and Aboriginal players.

The film chronicles how they trained rigorously under Kondo’s guidance and eventually qualified for, and competed in, the Japanese tournament, co-producer Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖) said.

Shooting on Kano began in November last year and is scheduled to be completed in March.