Any baseball fans out there?! I’ll admit I don’t know much about the game, but it’s the adopted national sport of Japan and well, when in Rome…!
My home country, Australia, is huge on sports. If you don’t play a sport yourself, you at least have a favourite team you cheer for. I don’t know how the sporting culture became so important… maybe it’s the camaraderie that’s formed when you play on a team, or maybe we are just plain competitive!
If I recall correctly, the first team sport I joined was softball when I was 8 or 9. I was hopeless at it. Pretty sure the only way I ever made it to the first base was when the pitcher bowled too many fouls and I was able to ‘walk’! Still, it must have been a good experience because it’s stuck in my memory all these years. After softball, I played many different sports through high school, university and as a working adult, basically up until I moved to Japan.
Whether or not I was playing a sport myself, I was always a supporter of a team. I remember as a kid going with my dad to my brothers’ cricket and rugby league games on Saturdays. One time my dad convinced the sound guy at a regional rugby game to let me switch on the end-of-game siren. I didn’t realise I had to turn it off as well! It went for about 5 seconds too long before the guy came rushing over to turn it off. Oops!
Being from North Queensland, naturally, I followed the most popular sport in that part of the country, NRL (national rugby league). When I moved to Melbourne, the home of AFL (Australian football league), I suddenly went from being in the majority to the minority. But I wasn’t about to give up rugby! I loved going to the Melbourne Storm games with my brother and friends and thousands of other fans.
So when I came to Japan, I had every intention of taking up a sport and going to sports matches. The trouble was, I found that the Japanese were not as keen on sports as Australians. None of my friends were very interested in going to the baseball. When I was living in Nagoya, I wanted to go see the Dragons play. But two years went by and I still hadn’t gone to a game. Then I moved to Tokyo and decided I HAD to go see the Giants. I talked about it with friends, but for some reason it just never eventuated. Another two years came and went. I kind of just gave up on the idea, and put it on the ‘someday’ to-do list.
But then, amazingly, I found some friends who like exploring and experiencing everything Japan has to offer as much as I do! My friend organised it all, and off we went to Tokyo Dome to see the Giants take on the Swallows…
After scoring a run, the home crowd goes ‘wild’, swinging their orange towels above their heads like helicopters! I didn’t get the memo about the orange towel, dammit! I gotta admit though, the away team’s supporters were doing a much better job at cheering and chanting. They even had a swing band busting out tunes for most of the game.
Cheerleaders getting the crowd hyped up while the Giants’ main supporters wave their giant flag.
These girls were probably the stars of the show! They carried kegs on their backs and scurried up and down the steep stairs for the whole game selling cups of beer, coke and mixed spirits!
When I think of baseball canteens in the U.S., I think of hot dogs, French fries and pizza. But in Japan, it’s more like curry, rice, and noodles!
The final verdict: it was really fun! I had waited 4 years to watch a game and the anticipation could have killed it, but it didn’t. I loved how each player has a different chant so that when they step up to the batting plate, the crowd gets behind them. I just gotta figure out what they’re saying in those chants! In the meantime, I’ll just be yelling: GO GIANTS!