Saturday, March 31, 2012

An American Baseball Game in Japan

Our home team from Seattle, The Mariners, played their season opener in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome Wed., Mar 28 against the Oakland A's. We went to go see their second game on Thurs. This is the first time that the Mariners have played in Japan (not to mention one of only a handful of times American teams have played games here) and also the first time Ichiro has played baseball in Japan after becoming a Mariner 11 years ago. He is a superstar in Japan and the stadium ignited with cheering and cameras flashing whenever he went to bat. I'm guessing the majority of people just came to see him.

I haven't been to a Japanese baseball game yet so I can't compare the game to that, but I can compare it to other games I've been to in the U.S. It was definitely the quietest baseball game I've ever been to (except for the cheering for Ichiro)! It was strange not to hear any talking, yelling, booing, cheering, or drunken shouting. Or singing--during the 7th inning stretch our group of Americans were the only ones I could hear singing along to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"! Of course, the Japanese were unlikely to know the words.

Unsurprisingly, the stadium was also spotlessly clean. No sticky beer, sunflower seeds, or popcorn spilled everywhere--that was a big difference. Another similarity is that they did show people on the big screen, but there were no silly contests, no "kiss cam," no "Welcome to Boy Scout Troop 56" messages, no funny facts about the players, etc. So maybe the Japanese just take baseball a lot more seriously than we do and don't have the need to be constantly entertained like Americans!

At first glance, it looks like a normal game at the Metrodome!

But everything is in Japanese

And everyone is eating bento

There are cheerful "beer girls" everywhere with backpacks full of beer ready to pour you a cold one

Japanese baseball food includes yakisoba, yakitori and curry rice along with hot dogs and hamburgers
The Mariner moose was there doing some wacky dancing
And Ichiro doing his signature at bat pose
Here he is on a beer ad in left field!

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