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.
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.