Editor’s Note: This submission comes from a long time #YPCorrespondent and a dear friend – “le flâneur”. Our travel experiences together have spanned Miami and Ibiza, with some aggressive nights in NYC in between. His take on the usually overlooked Japanese activity is below…
“I travel halfway across the world, and you want me to go see America’s pastime?”
Yes! One of my favorite parts of traveling is being exposed to experiences that are not only novel, but that also shed light on a foreign culture through its similarities to mine. I am not very interested in first-order tourism (e.g., checking items off a bucket list). Each trip for me is a gamble where I hope to have fun, learn about myself and a society, and, best of all, meet new people who are worth keeping in touch with.
Attending a Japanese baseball game is a great way, in a familiar environment, to learn where sports fit into Japanese culture. Baseball was introduced to Japan in the early-1870s, around the same time that the professional game was developing in the United States. By the turn of the century baseball became the most popular team sport in Japan, a distinction it carries to this day.
More Reasons You Should Go:
People Actually Watch the Game…
- We saw the Yokohama BayStars play the Chiba Lotte Marines on a Tuesday evening. The turnout of BayStar fans was great, especially given their place at the bottom of their division. However, the Lotte Marine presence was truly remarkable. Combine a weeknight, road game, and standing almost as bad as their opponent’s, and you still get an away section packed with chanting fans who brought drums to stay synchronized.
- Compare that enthusiasm with the bar-like atmosphere at my favorite ballpark during the regular season, and the intensity of Japanese baseball fans is something you definitely need to experience.
You Can Get Tickets Anywhere…
- Japan is miles ahead of the U.S. when it comes to vending machines. They are everywhere and sell everything imaginable. Many small restaurants even do away with the cashier for a machine that will sell you a ticket that you then hand to the chef.
- Every convenience store in Tokyo has a vending machine that sells baseball tickets, amongst many other events. The one I used at a 7-11 is embedded in the copier. You cannot get much more convenient than that.
- (Helpful Hint) These ticket machines usually have an English mode, but most functions are left untranslated. I tried clicking through the Japanese menus, but had no luck with them. Instead, you should ask the concierge at your hotel to write down in Japanese the game you want to attend. Someone at the convenience store can then help you use the machine.
You Can Bring Your Own Food and Drinks…
- Yes, you read that correctly. Why get stuck spending $7.50 plus tip for 16 ounces of Miller Lite, when you can just get whatever you want after buying your tickets?
- For food I opted for a meat/cheese tray and BBQ chips. The latter’s flavor profile strongly emphasized the garlic and charred beef themes on its bag. I also bought two tallboys to wash those down: an Asahi Dry that you would find in the States, and something called Kirin Strong. The latter tastes like Smirnoff Ice, but at Steel Reserve levels of alcohol.
- I have no idea what impression this advertisement strives for, but I was certainly washed up the morning after drinking its product. If you are more adventurous than me, you could also get one of these guys:
- YP Tip: I am not aware of any limits to the quantity or strength of booze that you can bring in the park, but the stadium’s staff will ask you to pour it out of it’ss containers and into cups. Do keep this in mind before buying a whole case of beer.
The Last Thing…
- Once you run out of the drinks you brought, likely around the bottom of the second inning, you will have the privilege of buying more from “biru no uriko.”
- That is a mini-keg in her backpack; enough said.
- (Helpful Hint) Japan has no tipping culture, but these vendors did greatly appreciate an extra ¥100 per beer. I am not sure what the expectations are here.