Saturday, June 9, 2012


Baseball is apparently really important in Japan. As an American, I've never really understood what baseball is all about, so actually before I even left for Japan I promised myself I would make my very best effort to become educated and interested in Japanese baseball. As it so happens, our 102 homeroom teacher Oae-sensei happened to have the idea to take us all out to a Nagoya Dragons game. So that's where I was pretty much all yesterday after class.

Nagoya Dome
My Korean friend, two Taiwanese girls and I took an earlier train than most of the rest of the people in our group just to chillax and go to some shops and whatnot around the Nagoya Dome. I have to say, my absolute favorite thing about this place is hanging out with people who speak absolutely zero English (or close enough), forcing me to figure out a way to get my point across completely in Japanese. Shamefully, I've been spending most of my evenings (and lunches) hanging out with my European friends who speak English totally fluently, but I think that's gonna change. My Taiwanese friends mostly live in the big dorm (called the Student Village) so I think I'm gonna make a habit of finding someone to let me in in the evenings and just study whatever while hanging out with a bunch of people who don't speak English. The only way I'm gonna improve is by speaking more.

The view from our seats
Regardless, back to the story. We wandered around for a while and spoke about a bunch of stuff, and then the rest of the class (including our sensei) arrived. We went and bought food and beer (yeah, you can bring beer into the stadium in Japan--what a country!) and then found our seats. Since tickets generally sell out for games here, apparently, we had to split up a bit. It was CJ (my swede friend) and myself in a sea of people who not only spoke fluently a language we could only guess at, but also who knew every single song and every single chant for every single player on the team. We did our best to follow along (it was easier when the songs only consisted of clapping and screaming the players' names) and were aided in the process by the fact that stadium beer is actually rather cheap compared to the highway robbery you encounter in the States.
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About the 7th or 8th inning, the Dragons managed to fall behind by a single point, so at the bottom of the 9th the Dragons had to score two points for the win. They managed to get a guy on second, and finished the job with the only home run of the entire game. It was completely and totally epic, particularly the point where everyone started tenatively cheering as they saw the ball flying through the air and then erupted in complete and utter insanity when it went into the stands.
Basically the last hit of the game happens to be a homerun and the crowd goes absolutely bonkers. People we hadn't even looked at the whole game began to high five us vigorously and scream and shout and it was just a great thing to be a part of.

The view from way up there
How are we going to find the others, we asked each other. After all, everyone's spread out and it was utter pandemonium. Well, we'll just go back the way we came since it was just a bridge walkway, and then find a place to gather and wait for the other students to walk by, since they'll most likely be in a group. CJ had the great idea of standing on the ledge beside the walkway so that we could get a better view of everyone walking by. The unintended side effect of this, however, was that we were two big huge foreigners, who on a normal day stick out like sore thumbs, but on this particular day were also wearing huge Nagoya Dragons ears. Couple this with the fact that everyone in the stadium was totally freaking stoked that their home team won in such a spectacular manner and you get one of the most legendary experiences I've ever been a part of.

You see, someone thought it would be awesome to scream and charge us with high fives. It was so theatrical that other people wanted to get in on the action. Eventually it got so intense that we actually were disrupting the flow of walkway traffic because people from the other side of the walkway were fighting their way through the crowd so they could give us high fives. Old ladies, men, women, children, everyone wanted to run up and high five the big dumb gaijin. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. My favorite part, though, was the parents who would bring their children of no more than 4 or 5 and lifted them up so they could high five us. It was so adorable.

Our group finally arrived and gathered around us (at that point we weren't really looking for them anymore, but we were kinda hard to miss) and a bunch of Japanese guys joined us up on the ledge. Honestly I don't even remember a lot of it because at that point it was just sensory overload.

So that was my baseball experience. I'm pretty sure it was nonstandard, but it was still rather fun and I totally want to go back again.

The end.