Game #9 – DeNA Bay Stars at Yokohama Stadium

On my second attempt, I made it to NPB game #9 at Yokohama Stadium to watch the DeNA Baystars take on the Yomiuri Giants.  The Baystars lost in a 6-7 heartbreaker.

In other news, I took a few days off and went to stay at a ryokhan in Matsumoto.  It’s a great little city in the Nagano prefict, near the Japanese Alps.  Got to check out Matsumoto Castle, which is the most original/authentic of the castles I’ve seen so far.

Yokohama Stadium, home of the DeNA Baystars

Yokohama Stadium, home of the DeNA Baystars

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Game #8 – Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome

Game #8: Things just keep getting better.  Got a ticket for the Yomiuri Giants game against the Hanshin Tigers yesterday (mad props to the folks at Sakura Hostel for helping me find a ticket reseller: the game has been sold out for 2 weeks).  The Tigers blew out the Giants 7-0.
The Tigers vs Giants rivalry is a bit like Yankees vs Red Sox, and my ticket was right in the middle of the Tigers cheering club sec…tion.  INTENSE! Got mad dogged for a little while until I busted out the noisemakers and chanted with all the other Tigers fans.
In Japan there is a definite feeling of “separate but not equal” for foreigners. The place that seems to disappear the most quickly is at the ballpark.  Yesterday’s game was the best example of that.
Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants

Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants

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Game #7 – Fukuoka Yafuoka! Dome

Game #7 in Fukuoka – The Softbank Hawks beat the Saitama Lions 8-7 in a 12-inning pitching match. Ballgames in Japan can end in a tie after 12 innings (I believe), so this was a sweet win.

Stayed in a capsule hotel for the first time in Fukuoka… what a weird experience!  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the ‘why’, but at least now I understand the ‘how’.

Fukuoka Yafuoka! Dome - Home of the Softbank Hawks

Fukuoka Yafuoka! Dome – Home of the Softbank Hawks

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Game #6 – Hiroshima Carp at Mazada Stadium

I arrived in Hiroshima yesterday and went to the ballgame at Mazda Stadium.
Andre’ Layral, I can see why you like this team!  The game was loads of fun, I finally broke down and got myself some katana-shaped noise-makers.  I’m really getting into bringing my own beer and releasing victory balloons during the 7th inning.  Why don’t we do this in the states?

This is game #6, which means that my trip is officially half way through.

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Game #5 – Hanshin Koshien Stadium

Hit game #5 at Koshien Stadium last night.  The home of the Hanshin Tigers is a bit like Wrigley Field; from a different era of baseball.  Tigers fans are very devoted and they went nuts in the last inning.  Down by one with a man on 1st, Matsuda got a base hit on the 3-2 pitch after fouling off a couple pitches.  Crowd went nuts and I got it on video.  Now I just have to figure out how to post it.

Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Osaka

Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Osaka

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Game #4 – Kyocera Dome Osaka

Made it to my 4th game today in Osaka to see the ORIX Buffaloes play the Fukuoka Hawks. Great game, Buffaloes won 4-3 thanks to some monster hitting by Aarom Baldiris.

The Kyocera Dome is definitely not a hitters park but it does have A/C!  I’m sure that keeping a building that big cool helps keep the home run count down.

Also, it was Little League night so there were lots of future ball players running around in their uniforms. 6 shades of adorable!

Kyocera Osaka Dome - Home of the ORIX Buffaloes

Kyocera Osaka Dome – Home of the ORIX Buffaloes

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NPB Game #3 – Nagoya Dome

I took the Shinkansen (express train) south out of Tokyo yesterday. I arrived at the Nagoya Dome to see the Chunichi Dragons take on the Yomiuri Giants for my 3rd ballpark.

The Giants won 1-0 over the Dragons, but it was a close game.  I arrived really late, because of a long night in Shinjuku the day before.  Still it was great to see the Dragons fans hang on until the bitter end.

Nagoya Dome, home of the Chunichi Dragons

Nagoya Dome, home of the Chunichi Dragons

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NPB Game #2 – Seibu Dome

Made it to the 2nd game on my schedule: Saitama Lions vs ORIX Buffaloes at the Seibu Dome.  It was a very serendipitous evening: started out with tailgating at high-speed on the train over (you can bring your own beer and drink it on the express train), it was ‘turn-back-the-clock’ night so the Lions were wearing retro Tokio Senators uniforms, and the home team won 5-1 in a blowout.

Then the fans got to go out on the field and watch a movie.  Finally, I got on the last train home and ran into 3 of the star players who are former MLB players (Dennis Sarfate, Esteban German & Ryan Spillborghs.  Was great to chat them up and tell them about my trip, they really liked it.

On the Express Train to the Lions game

On the Express Train to the Lions game

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NPB Game #1 – Jingu Stadium

I went to my first NPB ballpark here in Tokyo last night.  The Yakult Swallows (Tokyo) destroyed the Hanshin Tigers (Osaka) at Jingu Stadium.
First impression: Japanese people really know how to do baseball! These are the most enthusiastic fans I’ve ever seen.  Both sides have special cheering sections complete with brass bands, it’s more like a soccer match.  I got to try takoyaki (deep fried balls of octopus tentacles) at the ballpark.  As anticipated, everyone is so polite and friendly in Japan but most especially they are great at the ballgame.   I’ll be posting pictures as soon as I can.
Joseph at Jingu Stadium

Joseph at Jingu Stadium

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2013 Road Trip Season: Japan

Map of NPB Stadiums

Map of NPB Stadiums in Japan

Well folks, it’s time to announce that I will be following up my Major League Road Trip last year with a trip this summer to Japan. There are 12 teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball league, and I plan to go see a ball game at each of their home stadiums across Japan. By my calculations, this will take about three weeks. I’ll be traveling primarily by rail and staying in hostels.

My trip will start in Tokyo where there are five teams, then I will head south through Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima all the way to Fukuoka. Next, I’ll turn around head back north with a stop in Tokyo, then on up to Sendai and Sapporo. There is a possibility that I may also take a side trip to South Korea to see a few games there as well.

Since I’ve never been to Japan and don’t speak the language, any constructive advice that you might have would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, enjoy my posts and check-ins from the road.