Japanese people take their sports activities very seriously, and baseball is no exception, it’s a very big event for them. I got 2 season tickets to the Giants vs. Swallows game held at Tokyo dome as a present from one of my students.
The closest I have ever been to a baseball game was watching it in movies, so before I went I read up on all the rules and did a bit of research. I was told that I would be sitting in the Giants section so I had to wear something orange as their team colours are black and orange.
Geared with our limited knowledge of baseball and dressed in orange Michelle and I headed off to Tokyo Dome. As we arrived the atmosphere was electric, everybody was dressed in his or her team colours. Little stalls were dotted all around the Dome where you could buy baseball memorabilia.
As we walked into the stadium we were greeted by thousands of people singing with the accompaniment of various little impromptu bands set up in the stadium. We could hardly believe it when we were escorted to our seats in the fourth row from the front, we couldn’t have asked for better seats. We were right in front of the pitchers with a great view of the stadium.
The place was filled with beer, sushi lunch box and hot-dog sellers, definitely helping the crowd to be cheery. And if you wanted a different beverage you could always get it inside at one of the many stores. There were so many beverage stores inside the stadium that you never had to stand in line for more than 2 minutes.
Both of us were from South Africa and between the two of us we hardly knew any of the rules. In the beginning we cheered and clapped for every ball that made it over the fence and were soon informed by some of the spectators around us that that some were out. They tried really hard to explain the rules to us in broken English and after a while we would only cheer after they started cheering. We sat next to two old but very friendly men. They were 76 and 78 years old, a number we could hardly believe, as they looked about 20 years younger. They would just laugh and shake their heads at the two of us most of the time and my student later informed me that they found us very amusing.
I was amazed to see that the opposing supporters sat at opposite sides of the stadium. Each half of the stadium had an impromptu band set up that would play during their teams batting times. We also quickly learned that whenever a home run was hit the Giants crowd would wave orange coloured towels in the air as one man.
We joined the crowd in trying to catch balls that made it over to the fence our way and were quite surprised when the lady behind us actually caught one. I have never seen someone hide a ball with such speed in her handbag, but she gladly took it out for a photo opportunity.
Unfortunately the toilets at the stadium are your standard Japanese toilets, meaning that you will have to squat, but on the up side it’s all very clean. They even have smoking cubicles throughout the stadium fully equipped with big screen TV’s so that you don’t miss a thing.
It was a great day and ended on a high note with the Giants beating the Swallows. Leaving a stadium after any game is usually a shoving and pushing match but here it happened quite orderly and fast. Outside we were greeted by the lights of Tokyo and thousands of people heading towards the train station
We knew the trains back would be packed and hell if you are a little bit claustrophobic, believe me they squash as many people into a train as they can, packing them worse than sardines in a tin. So we went to an Isikaya(small bar) near the station and waited for the crowd to thin out before we braved the train back home.
After one baseball game I am hooked, the atmosphere at the stadium is electric and you leave on a total high. I will definitely be back again.