A Study on "Uruwashikitama," the Inspirational Episode of Zenzo Shimizu
− Focusing on Yajima Kaneji, Who Wrote the Story −

FUKUCHI Toyoki (Gunma University)


  The story of Japanese tennis great Zenzo Shimizu's commendable behavior on the ten-
nis court at the 1921 Davis Cup has been handed down to generations of Japanese school
children. During a close championship match against an American team featuring tennis
star Bill Tilden, Shimizu made a soft return of one of Tilden's shots because Tilden had
slipped after making the shot. From this incident, Shimizu has been praised highly for his
sportsmanship. The story was told in Japanese middle school textbooks before World War
II and was adopted after the war for elementary school textbooks until the 1950's. How-
ever, an author began to doubt the truthfulness of the episode involving the two tennis leg-
ends, and there suddenly arose debate over whether or not the incident really happened.
This study considers the authenticity of the event, focusing on Kaneji Yajima, who was the
author that wrote the original account
  The conclusion is summarized as follows:
1) Many of the accounts included in school textbooks had deviated from the writer's
 intension as they were handed down from textbook to textbook. Various adaptations
 were published by authors and editors who lost focus of the facts in relaying the moving
 events of the story.
2) In the post-war adaptations of the episode, the event occurred at the 1920 Wimbledon
 Tennis Championships rather than at the 1921 Davis Cup. In fact a book was found
 which shows that Tilden slipped while playing against Shimizu during their 1920 match
 at Wimbledon.
3) Kaneji Yajima wrote his story in order to emphasize the instructive potential that sports
 has to offer. This study considers that Yajima created the inspirational story knowing
 full well that Tilden never slipped during the Davis Cup match. Yajima wanted to ex-
 press an educational viewpoint that it is not good to stick to the extreme principle of
 competition and victory. The international event and Shimizu's fabled behavior embodied
 Yajima s ideal of athleticism and sportsmanship.
  A few historical facts about the incident have been successfully probed for accuracy, but
there remains much conjecture and interpretation in this study. The matter calls for fur-
ther investigation.