Friday, January 27, 2017

Introducing The Shikishi (Masataka Iryo)

When you want to get an autograph on something, what do you usually prepare?

The most common answers (I'd assume) would be things like trading cards, photographs (of the 8x10 variety), ticket stubs, equipment and index cards. Maybe even jerseys.

Wel in Japan, they also have another option, a board specifically designed for autographs.

This, my friends, is what the Japanese call a 色紙 (shikishi). The direct translation is "colored paper."

In ye olden times, these were actually of various colors (hence the name) and used to write poems, haikus and short stories on. Nowadays it's primarily used specifically to get autographs of famous people. Although it's not quite the case anymore the Japanese take their penmanship pretty seriously, I know this because I took 書道 (calligraphy) classes in both elementary school and high school. The way one writes words in the world of Japanese calligraphy is said to express a lot about the writer/artist's inner thoughts and feelings.

To put it another way, writing on these boards gives you jurisdiction to write your name in the most over the top way you could ever want to write it. Like for example, I know manga/anime artists draw a quick sketch of their most notable characters and then top it off with a sig.

Now this autograph is a bit on the tamer side but you know what, it's my first ever shikishi autograph and I think it's cool. And given the Dragons' historically bad track record with fan service (they've outright banned TTM requests) I'm surprised it even existed. Although to be fair, the Dragons team store had blank shikishi's and fat black pens ready for purchase so maybe IP autographs are easier to get than I think.

Anyway the signer is Chunichi Dragons outfielder Masataka Iryo (井領雅貴).
I was pretty hyped to get this because I'd known about Iyro as a Dragons prospect and he was one of top 15 guys I knew I had to get an autograph of during my time in Japan. I got this shikishi at a store that basically had a box of these and were giving these out for free with a purchase of a box of a product they had. I didn't buy a box but the store owner did me a solid and told me I could have it for free anyway (SCORE!).

Ironically the day I got the shikishi, I was meeting with a fellow baseball card collector in Japan and they gave me three Dragons autographs, two of them will be the subject of posts for another day, but the third was Iryo. And yup, it's numbered to 60 (Japanese autographs rule!).

Of course the ultimate irony is that I already had an Iryo autograph before I got either of the other two like a week before. The vertical EPOCH specimen you see above that I picked up in Tokyo.

This one is numbered to 23 and only ran me 1000 yen ($10 aprox.).

So three autographs of a top 10 Dragons prospect (although that status is starting to fade) for a combined $10. Booyah!

So about Masataka Iryo the player. Iryo was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the sixth round of the 2014 NPB Draft. Iryo was already up there in age by the draft due to the fact that he spent the previous seven years of his professional career playing as an amateur for the JX-ENEOS team in the industrial leagues.

Iryo's stats in nigun (the NPB equivalent of the MiLB) show that he's a fairly good hitter when given consistent playing time. He hasn't done much in the for the big league Dragons due to him barely playing a month with the big league club, but he has had his moments like his first hit and his first home run.

According to people who're more knowledgable than I am, Iryo's batting style is "aggressive" (lots of K's but also some BB's mixed in), and he can hold his own at the plate. He's also said to possess impressive speed. The same speed that allows him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield and goes along great with his impressive arm.

What happens to Iryo going forward is unknown, I'd assume he's going to give pro ball a shot for as long as he can (he waited seven years for the biggest opportunity ever, one more isn't going to hurt) and try and stick as an everyday regular. I wish him the best.

Anyway with that tangent I'm going to end this post.

The point is that you folks can finally add the shikishi to the list of items you might consider getting autographs for next time you have the chance of meeting someone famous.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. The Dragons have banned TTMs? I've never heard of that before. Maybe it is easier to get IP autos at the games because of this rule?

    Thanks for introducing me to the shikishi. Pretty neat.
    Also, I like the new header at the top of the blog!

    1. I'd assume that the sheer volume of TTM requests far outnumbers the number of requests the players get in person at games.

      And thanks PTT.

  2. I've seen shikishi quite a bit on the Japanese wrestling sites I frequent. I wasn't sure if they were just a wrestling thing or if they were more widely used for autographs.