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The Yomiuri Giants & Tokyo Dome City

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The Yomiuri Giants are the the New York Yankees of Japan. You can love them or hate them, but ambivalence is not allowed. They’re by far the richest and most successful team in Japanese baseball, with 22 titles under their belts. (The Saitama Seibu Lions are in second place with 13.) We took a trip to the Tokyo Dome to see the team in action.

Before the game started, we had a couple hours to kill. Luckily, Tokyo Dome City is a great place to kill time. An entire entertainment complex has sprung up around the stadium, with arcades, roller coasters, bars, restaurants, a mall, and even a hotel occupying a towering 47-story skyscraper. We went to the top of this building for a view over the dome, and then stopped by the arcade to challenge each other to a fierce match of video game pogo-jumping.

But the game was about to start, so we raced over to the 7-11 to stock up on beer and snacks — the ability to bring in your own supplies remains my favorite aspect of baseball in both Japan and Korea. The regular seats were all sold out, so we bought standing-room-only tickets, but I wasn’t too bothered… at least the stadium would be full, in stark contrast to the Swallows game we’d seen in April. But it turns out that standing-room in the Tokyo Dome is not good. There are only certain areas in which you’re allowed to stay, and the best spots are reserved by groups who have come in early and laid down their mats.

So we couldn’t see much. We maneuvered into an uncomfortable position behind the first-base line and, from our tiptoes, were able to catch some of the action. The Giants got off to a horrible start, dropping three runs in the first inning, and the crowd wasn’t exactly jubilant. Between each inning, we moved to a different spot, but never found a place which afforded a decent view. I don’t like leaving a match early, but the standing-room tickets had been half-price, so I felt justified in going home at the halfway point. The Giants ended up losing 7-2.

As a stadium, the Tokyo Dome leaves a lot to be desired. Baseball is meant to be seen outside, and being indoors ruins the atmosphere. That said, we’d have had more fun if we had planned properly and gotten actual seats. And the entertainment complex of Tokyo Dome City is certainly worth some time, even if you’re not going to the game. Overall, we enjoyed everything about the evening, except actually watching baseball.

Location of the Tokyo Dome on our Map

Great Gifts From The Japan

Yomiuri Giants Tokyo Dome City
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July 5, 2014 at 11:11 am Comments (2)

Japanese Baseball and the Yakult Swallows

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Sumo wrestling might be the country’s most traditional pastime and soccer is gaining ground every year, but Japan’s sporting obsession has long been baseball. I always love a trip to the ballpark, so we visited the Meiji Jingu Stadium for a match between the Yakult Swallows and the Hanshin Tigers.

Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo

In Japanese baseball, the strike zone, field and ball are slightly smaller, and games that reach the 12th inning deadlocked end in a tie, but otherwise there are no real differences between Japanese and American baseball. Quite a few US players finish their careers in Japan, and of course, Japanese players occasionally “graduate” to the MLB. Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Hideo Nomo are a just few of the famous athletes who’ve found success in America.

At Meiji Jingu Stadium, I almost felt as though we were attending a minor league game in the States. The crowd wasn’t as large as I had expected. In fact, the majority of seats were empty… maybe because it was an unimportant early-season game, or perhaps thanks to the rain. Or it could be that the Swallows aren’t that popular. The cheering section for the visiting Tigers was notably larger and louder than that for the home team.

So, we were not happy during the first couple innings. The rain had started with the first pitch, and our view in the lower outfield was obstructed by a fence. But eventually the weather improved. We dug into the sushi and beer we’d brought with us, and started loosening up. And then the Swallows scored and the fans surrounding us, who had been singing and clapping without pause, pulled out tiny umbrellas which they waved about wildly. Apparently, nothing says “Go Swallows” like dainty umbrellas.

The atmosphere inside the stadium improved with every inning, and by the time the Swallows had secured their 5-2 victory, we were in great spirits. Five runs meant five miniature umbrella dances, and it’s impossible to remain grumpy in the face of such joy. In fact, by the time we left, we were already looking forward to our next trip to the ballpark. In a few weeks, we had plans to visit the Tokyo Dome and root on the Yomuri Giants.

Location of Meiji Jingu Stadium on our Map

Compare It To The Baseball Culture In South Korea

Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
Yakult Swallows at the Meiji Jingu Stadium In Tokyo
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May 16, 2014 at 12:25 am Comments (2)
The Yomiuri Giants & Tokyo Dome City The Yomiuri Giants are the the New York Yankees of Japan. You can love them or hate them, but ambivalence is not allowed. They're by far the richest and most successful team in Japanese baseball, with 22 titles under their belts. (The Saitama Seibu Lions are in second place with 13.) We took a trip to the Tokyo Dome to see the team in action.
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