In the 150 years since American educator Horace Wilson began teaching his students in Tokyo about baseball in 1872, the game's meaning to Japan and the impact of this nation's brand of baseball on the world have changed dramatically.

During that time, Japan has become a great baseball-playing nation, producing unique talents such as Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Shohei Ohtani and now Roki Sasaki.

How Japan went from a newly unified nation with no sporting tradition beyond the martial arts to a world baseball power is a tale of curiosity for foreign ideas, national identity, authoritarianism and commercial exploitation — but most importantly, passion.