Description1934 Babe Ruth Tour of Japan Presentational Hagoita. When the greatest figures of our national pastime crossed the Pacific to proselytize for the sport, the Japanese people were proud to respond in kind. You've likely never heard of the traditional Japanese pastime of "Hanetsuki," or of its primary tool, the "hagoita," but the gracious citizens of the host nation made sure that the Americans were supplied that education in 1934.
The game bears some resemblance to badminton, the hagoita used as a paddle to strike a shuttlecock made of soapberry seeds and bird feathers. There is a spiritual component to the sport as well, the hagoita's movement similar to the "harau" action, a sweeping gesture thought to be effective in driving away evil spirits.
The listed hagoita was presented to the legendary slugger Babe Ruth, and pictures him in a charming caricature on obverse, with verso bearing imagery of Mount Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan. Checkerboard handle bears the label of "Matsuya," the leading sporting goods manufacturer of the nation.
The Ruth artwork was applied to a silk panel affixed to the wooden "paddle," and a small area of damage affects the face, to little distraction. Certainly the connection to both the most important foreign excursion in the history of baseball, and to the sport's most heralded practitioner, overrides such petty concerns. Hagoita measures twenty-four inches in length (24"), and nine inches (9") at its widest point.
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