Batter Up!

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…

Baseball

Baseball

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.

Baseball

Baseball

Cheerleaders getting the crowd hyped up while the Giants’ main supporters wave their giant flag.

Baseball

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!

Baseball

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!

 

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Batter Up!

  1. 東京ドームは すばらしい 野球場(やきゅうじょう)ですね。
    わたしは 高校野球(こうこうやきゅう)を 見るのが だいすきです。
    甲子園で 競う(きそう)高校生の野球をみると、興奮(こうふん)します。
    オーストラリアでは 野球が あまり 盛(さか)んでないのが さびしいです。
    英恵さんは ベースボールを見るのが ほんとうに すきですか。

    Like

    • 野球を見るのが好きなの?!知りませんでした!今も見ますか。
      オーストラリアでは野球がそんなに人気がありませんね。何ででしょうね。
      私はプロ野球を初めて観戦しましたが、楽しいいと思いましたよ!

      Like

  2. Indeed, sports defines the lifestyle and the power of a country, and health of a nation resides in the sports culture of the country. You are right when we in Rome…we start falling in love of the sports based on the engagement and see the attachment of the people for the sports. As an Australian you love cricket the way we as Indians go crazy about the game.

    Whether you play yourself or not, you start following a team and wining and losing of the team becomes an integral part of your life. US goes crazy with Basket ball, Indians goes mad with cricket…Japan is baseball, and you started with softball and enjoying the baseball…playing sports or supporting the cause of sports is something wonderful.

    Lovely post!!!
    Cheers to sports and to sports culture of a country…
    :D

    Like

    • It’s funny how fans of a game get so emotionally invested in a team – we are ecstatic when they win and devastated when they lose, as though we are actually playing with them! Do you follow any teams closely?

      Yes, India, Australia and England I think are all mad about cricket! In Australia, no BBQ party is complete without a game of backyard cricket. I haven’t played it in years, though, and actually miss it quite a bit!
      :D

      Like

  3. Hi Celia,
    Did you adopt an AFL team when In Melbourne? I had a look at your Instagram pics and noticed the food from “The Deck”. I loved that place when last in Tokyo and it sort of became my local cafe. Lucky you to enjoy it when you want. Take care.
    John

    Like

    • Hi John, no I didn’t :( Honestly, I didn’t put much effort into getting to know the teams. Whenever a local Melbournian asked which team I barrack for, and I said “none”, I always felt like it was such a disappointing answer. How about you, which team do you support?

      What!! You used to go to The Deck! I hadn’t heard of it until my friend took us there. The food and coffee was amazing. It’s a little gem! Any other places you frequented?

      Like

      • Hi Celia,
        I can understand you not getting into AFL. Being from a Rugby Union background it took me a very long time to adopt a team and when I did it was the West Coast Eagles. It’s a long story, but let’s say there was a certain pleasure in supporting a non Victorian team after putting-up with the usual responses for so long haha.
        The Deck was fairly close to where I stayed last time and I immediately liked it. I also used to enjoy visiting the Tokyo Photography Museum in Ebisu (no surprise there I guess) and used to combine the visits with a coffee at Binya Cafe. A bit expensive and a different vibe altogether to The Deck, but worth a visit and the coffee is good if you haven’t tried it already.

        Like

        • Haha, a friend of mine from Geelong was a West Coast Eagles supporter, too. Not sure his reason though! It’s always fun cheering for the less popular or underdogs, especially when they come out on top!

          Thanks for the suggestion! A friend of mine lives in Ebisu, so I’ll check it out next time I visit her :-)

          Like

  4. 4 year already , wow,.. & the enthusiasm for 日本 is still going strong, glad you enjoyed the event.
    I went to a game in the first few months I was there & was struck by the friendly , safe atmosphere. Especially in comparison to the Ozzie footy or soccer games I had to work at as a copper . No perpetual , simmering team X Vs Y , ” smash ya ‘ead in ” feeling.

    When I went again years later, I had become so accustom to how peaceful 日本人 are in a crowd, I didn’t even think about it till a bunch of sloshed gaijins tried to pick a fight with the other teams supporters, unsuccessfully of course,.. which really spoilt the atmosphere for everyone around them, made me feel embarrassed to be gaijin & wish I was still a copper.

    Have you been to Osaka yet…? We went last trip, [ April ], took Hanako to Universal Studios Japan, USJ , Harry Potter world. She came away with the cloak AND scarf AND wand AND , AND , AND…..!!!!! we needed an extra 2 big bags to bring all the “stuff” back.[ soft touch father ]

    Osaka is well worth a look, it really is different to Tokyo, .. they stand, on the RIGHT hand side of escalators.!!
    There is a couple of covered pedestrian streets , from Namba to Yodoyabashi , https://goo.gl/V8n9Vb….
    with 1000s of funny little shops which go for kilometres dead straight. Great for an “over their heads” photo on the end of a selfie stick… I didn’t have a selfie stick , bugger , but at arms length it still worked out ok.
    I was stunned at the number of gucci , prada, etc, bag laden Chinese tourists in the main shopping area the Sunday we were there. [ they do not seem to “crown” like 日本人 so we were constantly being bumped into by all the prada bags. I would instinctively say “gomen” only to have a quizzical stare & something in other than 日本語 come back at me .]
    We looked around this area again on departure day, Wednesday & there weren’t so many tourists. Next time I will check when it is “low season” for Chinese holidays.
    We were only there 3 days & will definitely go back on our next trip in January.

    USJ was good, no Disneyland but its getting there. Apparently USJ was a fading theme park & has had something of a rebirth thanks to Harry P.
    I am no fan of roller coasters but I must admit to “enjoying” these rides.
    The staff/ guides were G R E A T .
    One particular girl on the “Jaws ” boat ride will be in my heart forever. She just MADE what was a …”boat ride past some plastic models of sharks looking things, mechanically chugged out of the water”… into a LOT of fun. After the ride , we waited for her boat to come back to the disembarking spot to catch some of her on film, [ not aloud to film on the boat] & the same high level of enthusiasm was pouring out of her & all the passengers were beaming with enjoyment.

    I love that in the 日本人 , whether it be a theme park guide or 7/11 clerk, 100% effort to make the customer happy.
    Just to expand on that, we stayed at one of the several “plastic” hotels bordering USJ. Each day at the “biking” breakfast, one could order fresh pan cakes. The beaming young cook would serve two fresh, hot pancakes on a white plate with a hand drawn USJ theme park character done in coloured sauces , chocolate , strawberry etc. Snoppy, Elmo, Woody, etc,.. my wife would make requests, trying to test her & each time mins later, two hot pancakes AND a brilliant drawing …Spiderman was awesome. We could not stump her [ the cook] & always with a big smile. Simple, unexpected, free,.. just Magic!

    Then there was the waiter @ Hardrock cafe,… “Jack”. This was our first ever Hardrock cafe. We are not big on the ” I am your wait-person” thing, we go to sit and eat as a family, not be hovered over by someone looking for a tip . Hence love eating out in 日本 . But Jack was very helpful, unobtrusive & such extraordinary fun we had to ask for a photo with him.

    [ not too I have done this right but I “think” I have shared some photos here.. https://flic.kr/s/aHskawicYF
    ..enjoy]

    Warning, if you do USJ , be aware that you can not leave the park once in as you can with Disneyland.

    Keep posting , they feed my “need” till my next visit & your photography is just getting better & better. What cameras do you use?
    regards

    Like

    • Hi Derek, nice to hear from you!

      I’ve actually only been to Osaka twice but hardly remember it apart from the Running Man! I went to USJ some years ago and had a blast. First time to experience a “4D” movie. I think I saw Spiderman… the seats shook and water was sprayed on us when it was raining. Lots of fun! It sounds like your daughter had a great time at Harry Potter World. She would be envy of all my junior high students!

      I definitely need to spend more time in Osaka. After all, it’s the second biggest city in the country, so I know there’s lots more to do and see and experience. It’s hard to make time to go back to places I’ve already been, especially since there are still so many I haven’t visited yet!

      Thanks for the link to your pics. I see what you mean about the pancake designs. The cook seems pretty proud of her creations, as she should be! They’re awesome! Glad your April trip went well. It’s great for your daughter to spend time here and I’m sure your wife loves to come back too.
      Keep having fun!
      P.s. thanks for the comment about my photography. I just have a regular Olympus compact digital camera. Though surprisingly the iPhone takes pretty good pictures too!

      Like

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s