We’re hurdling towards the World Series here in the USA, but I’d rather be at a regular season Hanshin Tigers game. Here’s what makes the Japanese baseball league sugoi (amazing/incredible/cool):
The food selection is outrageous.
Just look at those Hanshin Tigers players scarfing up delicious Japanese food. They’re so happy! Also, watching baseball while using chopsticks feels bizarre and fun.
If you’re wanting a more classic ballpark food experience, fear not, an “American Dog” is also on the menu.
If you’ve never had a frozen beer, get thyself to Japan (or Japan in Epcot), and get to drinkin’. It’s basically a regular beer with a frozen beer head on top, so your brew stays icy cold as you sip, even in the blazing hot Japanese (or Orlando, FL) summer. If anyone reading this knows where to get frozen beer in the USA besides Disneyworld, let a girl know.
The rest of the beverage selection deserves a shout out, too:
Kirin produces nothing but thirst-quenching elixirs. Especially important when it’s a million humid degrees outside.
I’m convinced the Japanese take every good idea and make it better, and the refreshing chuhai is no exception. It’s basically shochu and club soda, with a flavor like lemon added. But even at the ballpark, the fruit is fresh (!) and bursting with juicy flavor.
If they run out of frozen Kirin (which they did at the game I went to), it’s ok. The beer taps are frozen too.
The ballparks are beautiful and well designed, for the best fan experience possible.
The stadium experience is both pleasant and exciting.
While you’re taking in the game, you may run out of food or drink. In Japan, they’ve upped the game of the classic “Cold beer! Hot nuts!” vendors at American ballparks. Dedicated beer girls with keg backpacks are roaming the stands to refill your cup (which is also sustainable, btw. Less plastic cup waste!).
An in-seat refill, isn’t that pleasant? Now for the exciting part: Japanese baseball games are chock full of bunts and walks. Games are won with bunts and walks. The crowd goes BANANAS for a walk. If you’re not paying attention, you’d think it was a home run from the spectators’ reaction. They play the game in a very technical, rule-oriented way, and it’s fascinating.
The gear selection is unmatched.
Everything is brighter and cuter in Japan–even the sports apparel. Peep these Doraemon-themed Hanshin Tigers socks I picked up at the ballpark:
Also for sale was gear from all other Japanese league teams. I found this so inclusive and just brimming with good sportsmanship. The Hanshin Tigers would love you to support them, but if you’re a Hiroshima Carp or Yokohama Baystars fan, you can grab your team’s t-shirt too.
The fans’ dedication runs DEEP.
Are the Hanshin Tigers very good? No. But their fans are dressed for success…
…and the fervor of this Tigers fan ruled my world.
I noticed that throughout Japan, baseball fans are really passionate about their teams. In particular, the Hiroshima Carp have a legion of diehard fans, and I was curious why. After touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, I learned that the Carp were formed during reconstruction after the atomic bomb devastated the city. Funding proved difficult in the years that followed the formation of the team; it almost was disbanded in 1951, but the people of Hiroshima kept it afloat with donations. How’s that for dedication?
Their traditions are spectacular.
At the Hanshin Tigers Koshien stadium, the fans do a massive balloon release in the 7th inning. It’s magical, whether your team is winning or not.
Don’t you want to be there?! It’s incredible IRL.
It’s also worth noting that at the stadium, there was a dedicated section for the opposing team’s fans, which would NEVER happen at an MLB stadium in the States. The Yokohama Baystar fans were in one giant group, doing their cheers and chants–it felt like a healthy collegiate sports rivalry. Can you imagine Yankee Stadium reserving a whole section for Red Sox fans? That would be a disaster. It works in Japan because they remember that sports should really remain in the realms of fun and not taking oneself too seriously.
If you’re in Japan during baseball season, make attending a game a priority. And drink a frozen beer (or four) for me!
/ 15 hours ago
Penny Hardaway returns to Memphis in his first year as Head Coach, and the...