At the start of April 2005, Yamagata Prefecture,1 a region of around 1.25 million people located in the north-east (Tōhoku) region of Japan, was in a state of great excitement. For the first time, a local school had reached the last four of the prestigious national high school invitation baseball tournament. Although they were ultimately to lose in the semi-finals, the success of Haguro High School, from the Shōnai region of Yamagata along the Japan Sea, had practically brought the prefecture to a standstill. A key player in the team’s success was star pitcher Mauricio Katayama, a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian who had studied at Haguro since 2003 in the school’s exchange programme. Aside from Katayama, the team also boasted two other Brazilian exchange students, one of whom was dubbed ‘Haguro’s Ichirō’ (Japan’s most famous baseball player). These nonJapanese students, together with America-educated coach, KentoYokota, who both inspired and bemused viewers with his English-heavy interviews, drew attention to the fact that even non-metropolitan, so-called ‘rural’ areas of Japan are becoming increasingly diverse, both culturally and racially. Nowhere is this more evident than in local schools.