Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yakult Swallows

We went to the baseball game in Tokyo.  We couldn't get tickets to a Tokyo Giants game, so we went to see the Yakult Swallows instead--not that this was disappointing at all.  In fact, maybe it was better than going to the Giants game... everybody goes to a Giants game.  The Giants play in a fancy domed stadium, while the Swallows play in the old Meiji Jingu stadium, which was built in 1926 and has hosted the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

The first difference I noticed between good ol'American baseball and the Japanese version was the food sitch.  As in, most people bring their food to the game, so there are vendors lining the sidewalks leading to the stadium selling all sorts of bentos, beers, and snacks for you to bring into the game.

Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to try Japanese baseball stadium food, we got a snacker of edamame and a tea-soaked egg.

We splurged on good seats (thanks to Miya for arranging!) on the first baseline, on the Swallows side.  A couple of things to point out here.  (1) There are cheerleaders.  (2) There are distinct areas where all of the Swallows fans sit and where all of the Carp fans sit.  (3) The fans only cheer for their teams when they are batting. (Of course, it is well organized even at the baseball game in Japan.)  (4) These cheers take the form of songs, with instruments, and each player has his own song that is repeated by the fans every time he goes to the plate.  (5) The Swallows fans are known for their umbrella dance, and they bring mini-umbrellas and then stand up during the 7th inning stretch to perform.

Here they are umbrella dancin'!  

And there are "sexy" beer girls (some sexier than others), going around with backpacks of beer.  Here is the Sapporo girl making sure the guy in front of us isn't thirsty.  Note that she is not really wearing her baseball cap, but that it is folded and hair-pinned to her head.  Many girls were sporting their hats this way.  Haven't they heard of VISORS?!

Oh man, fans were indispensable while we were in Japan.  They were handed out everywhere as marketing props, but you couldn't beat 'em for some one-handed air conditioning just about anywhere.  (I would walk down the street fanning myself, local-style.)  

The rules.  Good thing we didn't bring any jet-balloons.

The stadium food consisted of hotdogs, fries, cheese-filled potato wedges, some kind of roast beef sandwich, and these plates of assorted sausages.  Oh, and ice cream and other frozen treats.  I'm sure there was more, that was just in our section.

Speaking of frozen treats, here's B with a frozen beer and a hotdog.  Why, oh why, aren't they hip to frozen beer in the US?!

Swallows swag.