If you had asked me back in June what was a “must do” on our trip, I would have said hitting up some international sporting events. Cricket, Rugby or even Sumo Wrestling. Want to see some sports live and in action. Yesterday, our evening in Tokyo brought us the highlight of the day and one of my favorite moments of the trip so far – attending a Yomiuri Giants baseball game at the Tokyo Dome!
Holy crap on a stick, this was cool! It was baseball…in Japan. Brooke and I had an amazing time watching the game against The Hiroshima Carp (one of only 12 other teams in the league.) Wow, what an experience. Our seats were relatively high up, but the entire space was relatively small for a dome so we could see it all. The Giants wear the exact same colors of the San Francisco Giants and the team had six mascots running around the field. Six of them! Also of note were that ALL of the beer vendors were women. There were working hard: hustling up and down the aisles with min-kegs strapped to their back and big smiles and colorful outfits. And, yeah, the beers may still cost $10, but at least it was a high quality Asahi brew served by a very cute girl!
But the most eye-popping part of the baseball game was the crowd. Through every inning, a small brass band and loud drum led the entire stadium in a wide variety of cheers, songs and chants. Hard to do it justice in this post, but the enthusiasm and energy was infectious and constant. Every batter had his own song and when a homerun was hit – look out – the roof almost came off the place. I’ve never seen anything like it! It was like a college football game with a drum corps and even a vocal (but polite) visitors section. Remarkable. I love baseball in the states, always have, and now I think I love baseball in Japan.
The game play was exactly the same as in America and it was a high-quality competitive match up. As good as any MLB game (and there were some American players on each team). No 7th inning stretch, but there was plenty of singing. We never could find the bullpen- believe it to be behind the stands. And, sure, the Tokyo Dome is a little bit on the older side, but who cares? With a nearly sold out crowd and those never-ending chants, the good guys won 5-0. To celebrate the win, the home team lined up and bowed to the fans! We never knew what was going to happen next. After the game, player #25 Takahashi was honored for hitting his 300th home run. At least we think that’s what was going on…baseball may be an international language, but the signs and announcements were still in Japanese. After a small ceremony, he rode on the back of a golf-cart and threw out several autographed baseballs to eager fans waiting in the outfield stands! The game is so fan friendly that it’s dizzying. A night out at the ballpark was anything but ordinary and an absurd amount of fun. Go Giants!