Fans on Wednesday celebrated Japan's third World Baseball Classic championship after the team's victory over the United States, with many expressing elation when Shohei Ohtani struck out the final batter in the ninth inning.
Japan's 3-2 triumph in Miami, its first WBC title since 2009, was watched by crowds who had gathered to view the game at public venues across the country, with some firms permitting workers time off in the morning.
Around 100 people got together in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture -- home of Hanamaki Higashi High School which the tournament's MVP Ohtani once attended -- to watch the game. Noritatsu Kaneko, 37, said he had been "energized" by Ohtani's play.
"He is the pride of Iwate," Kaneko added. "I'm glad that I was able to cheer for a historical moment."
In Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo, Tatsuji Enokida, 84, and his wife Kazuko, 81, grandparents of center fielder Lars Nootbaar who scored in the second inning, were among the residents gathering to cheer the team on.
"I am overwhelmed with pride and happiness for my grandson," said Tatsuji, tearing up when Japan clinched the championship.
Meanwhile, about 20 employees at consulting firm Tomorrowgate Inc. watched the game at their office in Osaka, western Japan, after the company gave its workers the morning off.
"It felt amazing to see them finally break through to victory," said Shuhei Makigi, 29, who used to play with starting member lefty Shota Imanaga when they were teammates in university.
Around 400 fans attended a public viewing venue in outfielder Masataka Yoshida's hometown in Fukui city, central Japan, sporting various merchandise embellished with his name.
"It was wonderful to see how calm Yoshida can be in any situation," said Ayumi Kodani, 36, adding that her son currently plays for a junior baseball club that Yoshida belonged to when he was in elementary school.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel also congratulated Japan on its triumph and praised both teams on Twitter, calling it a "poetic ending for Ohtani-san to strike out his teammate to end the game."
Traditional doll maker Kyugetsu Co. put on display again the figurines of some of the Japanese players that it had unveiled earlier this month as part of the lineup of prominent newsmakers the Tokyo-based company features each year.
"We wanted to express gratitude for the excitement they gave us," said executive Susumu Watanabe.
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