The Crossroads of a Son’s Path and Parental Dreams from Dairy Farming Town to Koshien | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Crossroads of a Son’s Path and Parental Dreams from Dairy Farming Town to Koshien

Betsumi High School, which participated in the Spring Senbatsu for the first time, is scheduled to appear in the first round of the Kushiro Branch's preliminary round of the Spring Hokkaido High School Baseball Tournament on May 8.

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Out of a population of approximately 14,000 people, there are around 120,000 heads of cattle. The parents of Besukai High School baseball player, Senda, continue to carry the pride of being in the number one dairy farming town in Japan.

Hokkaido’s Betsukai High School, the largest dairy farming town in Japan with eight times as many cows as the population, made headlines when it participated in the Spring High School Baseball Tournament. Some members of the club whose family businesses are dairy farming and fishing. Following the first part of the article, “Following My Father’s Back… First Participation in the Spring Selection Tournament: Career Choices of the Students of Hokkaido’s Betsumi High School, a Town of Dairy Farming and Fishing,” we will look into the fate of the baseball team members in terms of their “future plans.

The best dairy farming town in Japan.

The spotlight on Betsukai, Hokkaido’s primary industry, was due to the town’s only high school, Betsukai High, earning its first-ever Koshien appearance as a candidate for the 21st Century Frame in this year’s Senbatsu tournament.

With a population of about 14,000, the town boasts around 120,000 head of cattle. With eight times as many cows as people, Betsukai’s annual raw milk production reaches 500,000 tons. Despite some fluctuations, this represents a consistent increase from the 250,000 tons produced in the late Showa period.

Baseball fans, typically indifferent to rural areas, were drawn to the majestic scale of this dairy farming town as Betsukai gained media attention.

“It’s natural not to know about Betsukai. But because Betsukai High School made it to Koshien, people learned that it’s a dairy farming town. We’re grateful for that.”

Mr. Kazuyuki Senda,an alumnus of the school, shows not a hint of dissatisfaction but rather a cheerful expression. The third-generation owner of Senda Ranch has two sons: Koyo, who was captain of the baseball team the previous year, and Ryota, a year younger than Koyo and a regular second baseman in the Senbatsu tournament. With his eldest son pursuing higher education to continue playing baseball, Kazuyuki does not currently consider them as potential successors to the farm.

“For us, it’s more about ‘if they want to do it.’ The most important thing is that they do what they want. However, if they do decide to take over the farm, I’d prefer it if they don’t both quit at the same time. More people means more expenses.”

The sons were made aware of their parents’ intentions from an early stage. This is why, when Ryota entered high school, he chose the general education track instead of the specialized dairy management program.

Ryota gives a slightly awkward smile as he explains.

“When I entered high school, I didn’t intend to take over the family farm. My parents told me it’s ‘a good job,’ and I believe that too, but the lack of days off and the hard work made me hesitant.”

Ryota Senda, aiming for the Summer Koshien Tournament

The potential of high school students is boundless. Having participated in the national tournament during his time at Betsukai Chuo Junior High School and experienced Koshien in high school, it’s even more so the case that Ryota, who now aspires to play baseball at a high level, is a natural development.

However, this doesn’t mean he’s turning a blind eye to the future. Hopefully, engaging in discussions with his parents and being informed that obtaining a national qualification as a livestock artificial inseminator could lead to involvement in dairy farming, Ryota is thinking positively.

“I do have moments of uncertainty about the future, but right now, my strong desire is to play in the summer in Koshien and continue playing baseball in college.”

In recent years, there has been nationwide concern about a shortage of successors to farming households, and Betsukai Town is no exception. The number of farming households has been declining, from over 2,000 in the 1960s to now less than 700.

The current situation is challenging. However, the Senda family remains optimistic.

Chida’s father, Kazuyuki (left), and mother, Chiharu

Both Kazuyuki and Chiharu, the parents, share the stance of wanting their sons to pursue what they truly desire.

Kazuyuki, who celebrated his sixtieth birthday last year, says cheerfully:

“I was also told by my parents, ‘If you have something you want to do, go ahead and do it,’ so I can’t really say to my sons they must take over the business. Whether it’s farming or any other job, there are both good and bad aspects, so I think it’s important for them to gain various experiences.”

His words reflect a tolerant parental attitude. Kazuyuki smiles.

“So, you should try doing what you want at least once. If you find yourself wanting to be a farmer after that, you can always come back home.”

Having a place to return to offers an unparalleled sense of security for those born into farming families.

Shingo Hayashi’s father, Tokuto Hayashi, is the third generation of “Hayashi Ranch,” and the fourth generation, Shingo, does not plan to take over at this time.

The eldest of three siblings, Hayashi, who served as captain in 2000 for the Betsukai baseball team, graduated from high school and went on to attend a culinary school in Sapporo. He has worked at a Chinese restaurant.

Mr. Hayashi succinctly explained the reason for transitioning from his aspiration to become a chef to taking over the family’s dairy farming business.

“When I saw my parents struggling with back pain, I thought, maybe I have to come back and take over.”

Having experienced it himself, Mr. Hayashi doesn’t pressure his eldest son Shingo to take over the ranch. On the contrary, he even tells him he doesn’t have to think about the ranch. Above all, as a father, he deeply respects his son’s independence.

Shingo played baseball until elementary school, but when he enrolled at Nakanishi Betsu Middle School and found there was no baseball team, he joined the table tennis club. Even when a baseball team was formed in his third year, he chose not to join, and when he entered Betsukai High School and opted for the basketball team, his father never questioned his decision.

Now, Shingo, in his first year of high school, expresses his desire to join the baseball team. Mr. Hayashi looks at him with a narrowed gaze.


“I didn’t play baseball in middle school, and high school baseball isn’t an easy world, but well, I’m happy about it.”

Shingo’s interest in joining the baseball team was sparked by his classmates at the time, including Kohtarō Nakamichi, who would later become the captain of the team. They told him it’s tough, but at the same time it’s fun. Their shining eyes moved Shingo’s heart.

Starting from scratch, unable to hit the ball with the bat and struggling to catch even a simple fly ball, the most challenging part was the rigorous physical training, especially the running. Five times harder than Shingo imagined. Shingo still grimaces, but he never once thought about quitting the baseball team.

“Each day is really tough, but the sense of achievement after overcoming that, or the feeling of improving in baseball, those are enjoyable. Feeling those things makes every day fulfilling.”

Shingo Hayashi aims to step on Koshien soil in the summer.

Shingo aims to pursue a career as a sports instructor to assist athletes in the future. Regarding dairy farming, he mentions, at the moment, he doesn’t have any intention to take it over.

As mentioned earlier, his father is content with that. Mr. Tokuhito reveals his inner thoughts.


“Farming can be tough in tough times. Machinery for work increases by nearly a million yen every year, and both fertilizers and feed are getting more expensive. I don’t want to burden my son with unnecessary debt in the future.”

The reality of dairy farming is undoubtedly there. However, that alone shouldn’t be the sole reason. Including Mr. Tokuto and his mother, Mina, the family saw a beacon of hope in Shingo. That, indeed, is what the Koshien represents.

Even though he couldn’t participate in the game, the sight of him stepping on the sacred soil of high school baseball’s holy ground reveals the answer to the path his son should take. 

Tokuto’s emotions expressed this.

“Just having my son at Koshien was beyond words. Just marching in the opening ceremony wearing the uniform of Betsukai High School, I felt like crying.”

The dairy farming town with fewer people than cows was ignited with passion at the dream stage where ordinary high school students stand.

That’s why, as Ryota and Shingo now seek to pursue the continuation of their dreams without inheriting dairy farming, their families support them and send their blessings in their hearts.

You have a place to return to, as they say.

Mr. Tokuto, the milker, is also an alumnus of the Betsukai High School baseball team.
Father, Tokuto, and mother, Mina (right)
  • Interview, text, and photographs Motoyoshi Taguchi

    Born in 1977 in Fukushima Prefecture. Former high school baseball player (substitute for 3 years). After working as an editor for a lifestyle magazine, he became a freelance writer in 2003. He has worked mainly for magazines such as "Number" (Bungei Shunju). He is the author of "Look at Losing. Seikogakuin and Tomoya Saito's High School Baseball" (Shuwa System) and "9 championships, undefeated Noshiro Tech Basketball Club: Enthusiasm and Melancholy" (Shueisha).

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