One of the main things on my wishlist for this trip to Japan was to see a Japanese baseball game. I’d been watching them on TV while we had TV Japan a couple months ago and it seemed like it would be a really fun and different experience compared to games here in the U.S. Thanks to some help from Naoto’s sister, Naoko, we were able to go to the Tokyo Dome to see the Yomiuri Giants play the SoftBank Hawks! The Japanese baseball teams are named by their corporate sponsors (lame, right?), so Yomiuri is not the name of the town the Giants play for, but it is the name of the corporation that owns them. (The Yomiuri Group owns a bunch of newspapers and a TV network in Japan.) It was pouring the day of the game, so we followed the umbrellas from the train station to the dome, which is referred to as “The Big Egg” by the locals. The pace of the game felt a lot slower than it is here in the States…which, if you’ve ever watched a baseball game, they’re pretty slow already. When I go to Cubs games, I always get a scorecard and keep score. (Fun fact: When I was in junior high, I watched a LOT of baseball and I kept score at home.) Keeping score helps me stay into the game and helps time pass steadily, especially during those middle innings, pitching changes, and long at-bats. With the Giants, I was more interested in the crowds. Japanese baseball fans really get into the game and there are “super-fan” stands in the outfield where everyone wears orange, sings songs, and there is a band! Here’s a little video of the super-fans singing a Giants rallying cry song. The video is a little grainy (sorry!) but the super-fans are sitting to the left of the right field foul post (that yellow post).
And here’s what happened during the 7th inning stretch:
OH! And the weirdest part…the opposing team has a dedicated fan section that gets a whole half-inning of uninterrupted cheering, singing, and band playing. Isn’t that crazy? (And isn’t that just what you’d expect from a country so steeped in respect?)I have to say, the Tokyo Dome hot dog was kind of disappointing…it was a little cold and the bun was not as amazing as the other hot dog buns I’ve had in Japan. And, I had to eat ketchup on my hot dog because the condiments both came out at once and I had no choice! (Ew!) But I had an amazing ice cream cone, melon and vanilla swirl soft serve (shown above next to Naoto’s beer.) Other food offered included Giants player designed bento boxes, chicken nuggets, curry rice, hamburgers, sushi, pretzels…plenty of ballpark favorites.
Sadly, the Giants lost the game, but it was a fun night at the ballpark just the same.