Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Let's Baseball Together Funess Pt. 2

Ok - so now for a bit about an actual Japanese baseball game - Think mass political rally mixed with girls in pink bringing beer, and somewhere there is apparently a baseball game going on, but I only realized this when I looked at my pictures the next day since the crowd was far more entertaining.

First is getting to Koshien (甲子園)- As I mentioned in the last post, the Hanshin of Hanshin Tigers is the name of the railway company that owns the team. Now this is one of those things you just don't see in the US anymore; private railway companies that compete with the national company (Japan Rail or JR). There are three main lines running east to west that link Osaka with Kobe - JR's Kobe line, Hankyu (阪急)another private company that links up Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, and Hanshin(阪神)which runs trains from two terminals in Osaka that link up on the way to Kobe. Since the Hanshin Tigers are owned by Hanshin Railway, you can bet your life that there is a station right in front of the stadium - how convenient. (And of course there is no parking - you have to take the train basically)

The area in front of the station is a true carnival atmosphere with stalls selling anything you can imagine in yellow and black -

video

Now one of the most unpleasant experiences of attending a ballgame in the states is having massive quantities of cash forcibly extracted from your wallet at every turn. Parking? $20 Ticket? $40 for a seat in the gutter behind a pole that comes with a man who beats you for no reason other than you didn't opt for a $150 seat. Food? Just sign here for your third mortgage, and now you want a beer? No college for Timmy!

Japan has this beat in two ways - one - stadium prices are fairly reasonable (a good size beer is $6, and you can get a set of beer and some snack for $10). But even better than that is this - you can bring your own food and bottles into the stadium. And not like some drug smuggler with your stash tapped to very private areas in attempts to fool the police academy reject now patting you down like you're the next bin Laden with a horrible plot to save money at an Oakland A's game. No - they just don't want you to bring the cans and bottles in, as this sign very cutely indicates.










But what they will do is pour it into cups for you ->

They will even give you a cardboard holder so you can carry all four of your outside-purchased beverages to your seat.


Awesome!


So now we have arrived at the stadium - Koshien is the Fenway or Wrigley of Japanese pro baseball. It is the oldest pro stadium, one of only three with natural grass, and the most rabid fans. It is also the largest in terms of capacity, and one of the only stadiums to regularly fill up.


Outside are of course the mascots and slogan:



This is the most recent slogan - the last one I remember was "Never, never, never surrender" (Apparently no one told the marketing department that surrendering has nothing to do with the end of a game, and that once nine innings are up, you still need to go home even if you don't raise any white flags - but it looks like they got the message)

Ok next post I promise will be from inside the park...

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