The crack of the bat, the cheers of the fans, the smell of the … fried octopus dough balls? America’s pastime may have a slightly different packaging in the land of the rising sun but attending a Japanese baseball game is an experience not to be missed.
Getting to a baseball game is pretty easy, no matter what Japanese city you happen to be passing through. Tokyo alone has two teams (three if you count the nearby Yokohama Bay Stars) and Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka all have major league stadiums. When I used to attend Giants games in Tokyo, I just popped on the Tokyo Giants website, checked the game schedule to see when they’d be at home, chose an available seat (5-6 price categories available), paid with a card and printed off my ticket receipt from my home printer.
Most stadiums are accessible by public transportation, perfect for the trip back home if you’ve had one too many from the beer runners. Oh yes, the beer runners – young women kitted out in fluorescent outfits who tote backpacks of beer up and down the bleachers. Yes, if you so desire, your drinks will come straight to your seats. But you might want to get up and wander down to the snack area anyway – you’ll find the traditional American faves of hotdogs and hamburgers as well as a range of Japanese snacks (yakisoba, edamame, and those delectable fried octopus dough balls, just to name a few).
Unlike an American baseball game, you won’t find heckling here. Be prepared, however, for a LOT of cheering. Organized cheering. With cheerleaders. No, I’m not kidding. Each bleacher section has a lead cheerleader who organizes the chants for the crowd. Cheering rules are pretty specific; there’s no noise tolerated when the other team is at bat. You can only cheer when your own team is up. Most spectators accompany their cheers with noisemakers like plastic bats. Our seatmates at the first game I attended were kind enough to give us an orange Giants towel to twirl around, so we wouldn’t look ridiculously out of place.
Aside from the surface differences, the game we all know and love remains the same. If you want the chance to enjoy it with a unique crowd, however, book your tickets today.
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