Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Baseball at Tokyo Dome

On Wednesday I went to Tokyo Dome to see a real Japanese baseball game (yakyuu - 野球). I'd seen one other game in Tampa, Florida, when I went there on holiday six years ago.

Last week I went with some of my housemates to book the tickets. When we arrived, there was a massive massive queue leading all the way round the stadium. It must have been close to a kilometre long. We followed it, expecting to find the end soon, but it just wouldn't come! Eventually we found a co-ordinator holding a sign proclaiming 'End of the line'. We asked him if this was the only way to get tickets, and he told us that this was the queue for today's game only. Advance tickets was a different line.

So we walked all the way back to the front, and found our line. There were five people in it. That's more like it! We reserved the tickets without difficulty (because we had a Japanese speaker with us!) and tickets in the B section cost us Y3,700 each (nearly £19). I thought that was very reasonable.

So on Wednesday afternoon we went to Suidobashi station and had a look around the surrounding area before the game at 6pm. There is an amusement park called LaQua, and lots of shops and restaurants within the grounds. It's so strange that there's a theme park just 15 minutes walk from the Imperial Palace.

The rides did look fun, and the prices ranged from Y400-1,000 for each ride. We didn't go on any of them though.

Here is Tokyo Dome itself. It's too big to fit into one photo, but hopefully you can get an idea from this one.
This is where we bought our advance tickets.

It's a nice area to wander round, with fountains and boardwalks. It reminded me of Brindleyplace in Birmingham, except with rollercoasters.

There's a 'Jump' shop, devoted to all things manga, particularly Dragonball Z and Bleach.

So many books!

And of course there's the obligatory souvenir shops.

We went into the stadium to find our seats and get some food. They had American and Japanese style food. But no chips (if you're American that's fries)! I really fancied something unhealthy so I went with a hot dog and chicken nuggets.

Our seats weren't bad actually. They were close to the pitch, but sidewards so the view of the actual throwing and batting wasn't great.

The game was between the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers (two of the biggest teams in Japan) so it was a good one. We sat on the Giants side, and you can see from this video what happened when they performed well.

The game was complete with blimps!

And cheerleaders!

There were girls patrolling the stands with beer, soft drinks and various snacks. It looked like a really uncomfortable job, especially when weird gaijin take a video of you when you walk past.

At one point, in a very surreal moment, the whole stadium erupted into the YMCA, complete with singing and dancing.

The stadium looks quite busy from this photo, but it wasn't anywhere near a full-house. I was surprised.
A lot of people were on the big screen that panned through the audience, it went past us twice but was either too high or too low to show us.
At the end of the game, the Giants lost, but only by a one or two points. I enjoyed it a lot but it was a really long time to just sit in a uncomfortable plastic chair watching people miss balls. The atmosphere was good though.
As soon as the last ball was caught, everyone stood up in unison and made for the exits. We were caught in the flow of people, and taken outside. You can see how busy it was.
After being dragged towards the station, we decided to hang around for a while to let the trains quieten down, as we knew that the next few would be fit to burst with people. We wandered around the area, looking at the rides and shops in the dark.

It was a very nice area. It had that clean, modern, cosmopolitan feel to it.

I definitely recommend seeing a baseball game if you are in Japan for a long time, but if you only have a few days, it would probably be a waste of your evening, especially if you're from America!

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