Over the summer, I was really excited to be able to watch a baseball game in Japan during my vacation there. I caught a game with my buddy Ryan when the Chunichi Dragons visited the Hanshin Tigers. I’ve been getting a lot of ‘I like your blog! But I don’t understand the lingo!’, so I thought I’d switch it up and describe how different Japanese pro leagues differ from American baseball. But first some background on Japanese baseball.
Unlike the Major leagues, teams are named after the big conglomerate firms that own the team. Thus, big urban areas like the Kansai region or the Tokyo Bay region will have several teams in the area. Found in 1950, the Nippon Baseball league has 12 teams split into two different leagues. Anyways, onto my thoughts on the Baseball Culture shock that I experienced:
- This is the only thing I will mention about the actual aspect of the type of baseball Japanese pro leagues play. A considerable amount of the hits we saw were infield hits that went past into the outfield. Most hitters in America would dare not stretch these hits into doubles, but that’s exactly what these japanese players did most of the time. Which brings up two important things: Japanese players are pretty quick and can make singles into doubles easily, and also it doesn’t seem like infield defense is much of a priority, while in America it is the essential ingredient of a team’s defense.
- The cheering in Japan is amazing. At least for the Hanshin stadium, each hitter has his own song that they sing! A true fan will know all the lyrics to each song. And a motto they chant constantly (like our Let’s Go Team A! But more cool) is, ‘Hit it out of the park, player!’ It’s amazing how into the crowd is in the game. A good amount also bring out their noise makers to intimidate the visiting team.
- What I thought epitomize the differences in American and Japanese culture rests in this point. In America, foul balls are usually fought over by fans, with people pushing and shoving. In Japan, they all crouch and protect themselves from the ball.
- The stadium felt more cozy. It was smaller than any stadium I’ve ever been to, and felt a lot more humble than what you would see at Yankee Stadium and such. And the food there was quite an experience. Pretty good I must say, but something just doesn’t feel right when I’m eating curry for dinner watching a ball game. I saw a lot of sushi, and rice plates as well.
- The place is such a family safe environment! No joke. Parents would allow their children to run around the section like crazy animals! Watching them run around made me feel a little anxious, you would never see that in America.
Cutest girl I saw in Japan.
- You know how our 7th inning stretch entails the singing of ‘Take me Out to the Ball Game?’ Instead of singing, these Japanese fans blow up long balloons with sound makers on the end of them, and let them go up in the air in a synchronized fashion. Quite the scene! They did it too at the end of the game when the Tigers won!
Thanks for a good time in Japan, Ryan (long overdue, I went in mid-July).