Friday, October 22, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame . . . in Japan!

The local pro baseball team, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, just lost in the final game of the Pacific League Series (the equivalent to Major League Baseball's ALCS or NLCS). A couple months ago, I was invited to a game with several other teachers. (Our gregarious landlord had some extra tickets.)

Now, the stuff on the field looked like baseball, with some minor changes: the Japanese strike zone is a trapezoid, for instance, with the inside wider than the outside. (For more on Japanese pro baseball, see Wikipedia's article on the NPB.)

But the stuff off the field was something else altogether! The stadium, Fukuoka Yahoo Dome, was filled throughout the game with the racket of competing pep bands, organized cheers, and flashy high-def Jumbotron animation. Even though the home team lost, it was still a blast--the most fun I've had at a ballpark in a long time.

Here are some shots from the game.

 Biking to the Dome:

The concession stand:
 They had American favorites like hot dogs and beer, plus Japanese fare, like takoyaki (fried octopus) and edamame (soybeans, the green stuff in the photo above, and quite possibly the greatest snack food in the history of the world).

The view from our seats, right along the first baseline.
We didn't get any foul balls, but a few came awfully close. Whenever a foul ball would enter the stands, stadium employees would blow a whistle if they thought it was coming in their direction. It was a cool effect--the sound of the whistles would track the ball and intensify in the spot where it eventually landed.

Our friendly beer man, who spoke a little English:
The beer guys walked around all game with little kegs strapped to their backs. When they got to the bottom of a row, they would turn around, announce their presence to the crowd, and bow, Japanese-style.

The seventh inning stretch was . . . interesting. At the end of the team fight song, all the fans released these vaguely rude yellow balloons into the air.
We were the only ones around who seemed to, um, get it.

(Photo credit for the post goes to Matt Buck, who bailed me out when my battery died.)


  1. omg I remember my baseball experience in Taiwan! it was crazy! connnnnstant chanting and boom sticks for everyone!

  2. I love edamame, but I haven't quite recovered yet from biting into one during Japanese language class and thinking it tasted funny, then spitting it out and finding a boiled worm inside.