“Take me out to the ballgame…
I am not a sports girl. But ever since I read this article about baseball in Japan I have been obsessed with seeing a game firsthand. With tickets in hand thanks to JapanBall, I got my chance to watch the Seibu Lions battle it out with the Yakult Swallows.
Getting to Seibu Stadium, however, was a little bit of a journey. Unfortunately we were staying on the opposite side of Tokyo, so it took two subway lines and two commuter trains to reach the game. The beauty, however, of the Tokyo trains is that they are fast and almost always on schedule, and the station is just meters away from the stadium entrance.
We arrived at the domed stadium just in time for the singing of the national anthem and opening pitch, finding our seats along the first base line close to home plate.
Take me out with the crowd…
The crowd was a mix of men in business suits, kids in t-shirts and fans of all ages in their favorite team’s gear. While far from a sell out, the enthusiasm radiating from the stands was palpable. A cacophony of cheers and clapping surrounded us, interspersed with moments of intense umbrella waving. Yes, you read that correctly, umbrella waving. I’m not sure how pastel plastic umbrellas became the foam finger of Swallow fans, but there you have it.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…
I know this is totally un-American, but we snacked on neither peanuts nor Cracker Jack. But we did have hotdogs. And soba noodles. Between the French fries and chicken tenders, we also could have indulged in sushi, tempura and other Japanese culinary delights, but we had to make sure to save room for the beer.
Beer delivered to our seats.
By cheerful girls in pigtails.
With kegs strapped to their backs.
Keith’s never really been a huge baseball fan, but I think he may have found his new favorite sport.
I don’t care if I never get back…
We did get back to our teeny-tiny bunk bed room in Tokyo, but really, there’s not much else to say about the ride home.
Let me root, root, root for the home team, if they don’t win it’s a shame…
In the US, when the crowds get really riled up, say, in the bottom of the ninth with a tie score, you might get a “Let’s go!” chant going in the upper decks. If the crowd is really, really into it, you might even get a wave. But here in Japan, all it takes is a new player up at bat and the cheap seats go crazy. I’m talking jumping up out of their seats waving Canadian flags while singing at the top of their lungs crazy. In fact, each player has a unique cheer that doesn’t end until that player either strikes out or gets a hit. Foreign players get their home country’s flag in the air while Japanese players get signs that are, well, in Japanese. No one in the outfield seats sits when their team is at the plate.
Oh, and the home team did win. In the bottom of the ninth the Seibu Lions hit the winning run, making for a very exciting game.
For it’s one, two three strikes you’re out at the old ball game!”
Great game. Delicious food. And grown Japanese men jumping around like three year olds with pixie sticks. What more could we ask for?