For a few years in the 1990s, thousands upon thousands of Japanese tourists flocked to a small Midwestern town. Yes, soybeans grow plentifully in Iowa, but that’s not why.
Japanese people spent their hard-earned money to visit a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa corn field where the movie ‘Field of Dreams‘ was shot.
The movie stars Kevin Kostner as a farmer in economic straits, who builds a baseball field after a mysterious voice tells him to. Economically it made no sense to plow over his corn. But in listening to that voice, the field became a place where ghosts from Major League Baseball’s past come to play, one of whom is Kostner’s deceased and estranged father.
The allure of the Dyersville, Iowa location grew even bigger one day after several busloads of tourists witnessed baseball players walking out of the corn. The onlookers stood slack-jawed as many who appeared in the film as extras took to the field.
The far-reaching effects of the movie combined with another American export, the game of baseball itself. Those extras who walked out of the corn field that day were minor league baseball players. They went on to tour Japan playing exhibition games.
‘Field of Dreams’ was born out of the Midwest but translated more directly to the tradition of ancestor worship in Japan.
Before that voice told Kostner to build it, it was an idea in the writer’s mind. It brought ghosts to the field and players to Japan and tourists from half a world away.