Okada’s future lost in translation

Japan’s outgoing coach Takeshi Okada, who guided the Blue Samurai to the knockout stage at this summer’s World Cup, says he has been declining unlikely offers to become a farmer.


The mix-up is all because of a mistranslation in his interview with a major British football magazine, the bespectacled 54-year-old told a weekend talk show in Osaka, Japanese media reported Monday.

Okada recalled he had told the magazine before the World Cup in South Africa that he would leave his job to lead a life typified by a Japanese idiom “seikou-udoku”, meaning “till the land when it shines and read books when it rains”.

“That was mistaken to mean ‘I want to be engaged in farming,” Okada smiled. “It’s not that.”

The lifestyle has been idealised by intellectual recluses but the idiom itself has been expanded to mean a life free from worldly affairs. The magazine quoted Okada as saying he would retire to become a “farmer”.

As a result, he has received agricultural job offers from a banana plant in the sub-tropical island of Okinawa and the mayor of a town on the northern island of Hokkaido, Okada said.

A Zen student who has often mixed his team talks with lectures on religion, philosophy and history, Okada sees his contract as Japan coach expire on Tuesday. His replacement is yet to be signed.

Okada was elected in late July to the board of the Japan Football Association and has also landed jobs as a commentator on a satellite pay television channel and as a sports adviser to the education ministry.

Okada, who coached Japan during their World Cup debut in 1998, when they lost all three group matches, said last month he might accept the job of a club coach but would never become national coach again.

He has become a national hero after the Blue Samurai reached the last 16 round of the World Cup for the first time on foreign soil in South Africa in June, beating Cameroon and Denmark and losing only to the eventual finalists Holland.

They were narrowly beaten by Paraguay on penalties after a goalless draw in 120 minutes.