August 28, 2017
Our first baseball game in Japan! We had heard from friends living in Kobe that baseball games in Japan were super fun and amazing. I saw videos and pictures online of people cheerily waving balloons and inflatable sticks while happily munching away on some Japanese chicken and various other snacks. The vibe at the game was very different than what I’m used to for soccer games or other baseball games I’ve seen while living in Canada. Nobody is booing for the other team or taunting the players. There weren’t any groups of rowdy men and women drunk and looking to pick a fight. There were a lot of families totally decked out in the team colours. Solo fans cheering their guts out. Older men cheering their guts out. There were also groups of women happily cheering along, eating food, and enjoying the fresh beer. There was still a big fan section equipped with flags and an entire brass band but it wasn’t mean or teasing to the other team.
Each side would allow the other side to cheer for their own players when each person went up to bat, and the other side didn’t boo or chant opposing cheers. It was very organized yet felt very exciting. The organization didn’t stifle the energy or feeling of excitement in the air. I’m sure you can see this from the video, but it was just such a great vibe. The fans around us that were all decked out in Swallows gear were so happy to see us all cheering and trying to join in. They even lent us their little mini team umbrellas so that we could join in the cheering every time the Swallows got a run.
We lucked out in that it wasn’t raining that day (although it did rain as we left our house so we were worried) but the heat was pretty insane. It was over 35 degrees but a wet humid 35, so we were all just drenched in sweat. The seats were surprisingly comfortable and curved so that it wasn’t just a flat plastic chair, and perhaps it was just where we were sitting, but it had a nice amount of leg room.
If you want to check out a Yakult Swallows game, you can get tickets the day of from the stadium or you can buy them in advance at the machines that sell allllll the tickets at Lawsons. If you want to make sure it isn’t sold out, check out what team they’ll be playing against in adanvce. If they are playing against of the big top teams like the Tokyo Giants, the tickets might be sold out or it could be harder to get group seating with an unreserved seat. So arrive a few hours early to ensure a good seat. We arrived one hour in advance and with the walk and the buying of snacks and food, it was cutting it close to opening pitch at 6pm.
Anyhow, there are a lot of things we couldn’t show in this video, so we talk a lot more about Japanese baseball in this week’s podcast. Or, if you’d like to hear about FARTSLAMS (real word) and what they mean in baseball, you can check out our extra scenes below!