Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Checking out a baseball game was pretty high on my Japan to do list so I was really happy to catch one of the last games of the season this past Thursday.  It was a Hanshin Tigers vs Yokohama Bay Stars game at Koshien Stadium near Kobe.  Koshien Stadium is the oldest baseball stadium in Japan, dating from 1924, and 1 of 3 natural grass fields in Japan.  It has the only dirt infield in Japan and is considered sacred ground.

There are really two teams in Osaka, The Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes.  Unfortunately, this year both teams have losing records.  The Tigers are by far the more popular of the teams and are known to have the rowdiest fans in Japanese baseball.  When the Tigers visit opposing team’s stadiums their fans sometimes outnumber the home crowd.  When the Tigers won the Japanese Series they celebrated by having a team of lookalike players jump into the Osaka canal.  Since they didn’t have anyone who looked like Randy Bass (Japanese teams are allowed 4 foreign players), they used a statue of Colonel Sanders as a stand in.  Since then, the team has had to endure the “Curse of the Colonel” supposedly means that they will not win another championship unto the statue is rescued from the canal.

The Mascots

I met up with Julian at the stadium where we bought some bento food outside the park.  Apparently you can bring in outside food, but there seemed to be a lot of good, if expensive,  food for sale inside the stadium.  I gotta say that the beer girls are much cuter than the dudes handing out beers at AT&T Park.  Since the Tigers are well out of any playoff contention the stadium was mostly empty except for the cheap seats which were packed with fans.  The fans continually beat plastic bats together, blow horns, and chant the Tigers fight song. It was pretty impressive considering that this game meant nothing.

The Fans

When we bought out seats we had no idea where we would end up, but we found that we were just outside the cheap seats area and unfortunately couldn’t cross over.  If I ever go back, I’m making sure to get one of the cheap seats since it looked like a lot of fun.  When it came time for the 7th inning stretch, instead of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game”, fans blew up a bunch of balloons and released them at the end of the fight song.  The game was fairly exciting, but the Tigers never recovered from the 5 runs they gave up in the 3rd although they legitimately had a chance up to the end.  I’m kind of sad the season is over.  I could really get into this if there were a few more games.

 The Cheap Seats

 At Bat


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