It doesn’t seem quite right to mention hirsute, mustachioed actor Tom Selleck and baseball legend Bobby Valentine in the same breath as David Bintley, the new artistic director of The National Ballet of Japan. However, if you’re unlucky enough to have seen Selleck’s 1992 film “Mr. Baseball” or know of Valentine’s experiences when he was manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, you’ll understand that it can be difficult to come to Japan as an outsider and implement some degree of change, be it in baseball or ballet.
Japan has the knack of befuddling those not acquainted with its often Byzantine way of doing things. Even Prime Minister Naoto Kan acknowledged, in a statement made in June, that “there is a growing feeling of being fenced in, . . . a vague sense that the whole country is being stifled.”