In waking a tiger, use a big stick…

Hello Everybody,

So here I am in my third Winter or Spring if you will, and I have been remiss in not partaking of a lovely event that occurs here in Okinawa when the Sakura appear. It is of course, Spring Training!

Last January I decided to invest $18 a month for basic cable here with OCN ( I am assuming that stands for Okinawa Cable Network?) and began watching Japanese baseball in earnest. I put the games on when I am doing things in the kitchen and look in to see what’s happening. I have heard many hearty ‘sou desu ne!’  and learned when and how to apply that little handy phrase that never fails to amuse me. It is basically agreeing with someone, but it’s awesome and very Japanese.

tiger nation
Tiger Nation…they were beating the drum and playing the horn throughout the game.

Anyway, I watched a few teams, I knew right away that I could not go for the Giants, they are the NY Yankee equivalent here and there was no way that was happening. I also liked the Hiroshima Carp, but they were champions and I didn’t want to be a bandwagon person. So after spending a little time in and around the Osaka area, I got to know the personality of the city and it’s openness, enthusiasm and passion. Hanshin Tigers are the Osaka team, and they are the team I chose. I bought myself a nice hat at the official Tiger store and a lanyard. Now I just needed to get there to watch a game.

little tiger
A little Tiger in the making…

It’s a little expensive to fly all the way up there and get a room just to watch a ballgame. Now, I also have friends in Osaka, so I could visit them as well, but I remember hearing  last year that the Japanese professional baseball teams come down here for Spring Training. This year I made a point to  find out where everyone is and see at least one game.

home run congratulations kanemoto
Nakatani hit a two run homer…he is congratulated by his manager Kanemoto Tomoaki.

Living here in Ginowan, I have the Yokohama BayStars. In Chatan there are the Chunichi Dragons, Okinawa City has the Hiroshima Carp, Naha the Yomiuri Giants, Urasoe the Tokyo Swallows, Nago the Hokkaido Fighters, and Kumejima and Ishigaki have the Rakuten Eagles and Chiba Marines respectively. Oh I left one team out…the Hanshin Tigers are in Ginoza. That’s a little bit of a drive, about 45 minutes but it is also near Sea Glass Beach…so I knew right where the stadium was.

35 tigers pitcher
Hiroto Seiki
another sliding into second
Itohara putting the tag on Kuramoto of the BayStars.

I looked it up on the internet…I love the internet… and saw there was a game on 2/11/18 at 1300. I planned my trip. I loaded up my Thermos with butter coffee, a small bag of macadamia nuts and had Usher queued on my ipod for the drive. I got there 2 1/2 hours early and had a difficult time finding a place to park. Lucky for me,  I had been to Ginoza a while back for an opera performance. I parked in that parking lot and walked over.

rosario at bat
Rosario at the bat, hit a home run his first at bat, then a double…it think he had three RBI by the third inning.
ueda diving back
Ueda diving back to first base…it seemed like he was always on first base, and always diving back!
pitcher yokohama
I had his name, but now I can’t remember…

It was my first Japanese ballgame and the crowd is a little….ummm….subdued….as in I got a message on LINE when I was shooting pictures and everyone heard it. Interesting. However, the Hanshin Tiger crowd in the outfield livened things up with the drums, but overall, it was kind of like watching golf. It was a Japanese experience, there were the typical  murmurs of appreciation and quiet encouragement.  I enjoyed it more than the American games I have attended, it may have been for the novelty of it all.

So, my Tigers handily defeated the BayStars, blanking them 8-0 and  I went home (slowly) a happy Tiger! I will put a bunch of pictures on for your entertainment and mine. Just know that I shot more than 500 pictures today…

55 yohkawa first base
I did a lot of shooting from the first base side, this guy was awesome!
yohkawa and baystar dive back
He got back safely!
Kanemoto Tomoaki…manager extraordinaire….hello
out at first
This first baseman kept ‘accidentally’ kicking his foot out at players…not cool man.
sliding into second
I think that’s what you call being out by a mile!
throw at second base
girl tiger
Tiger cub
Bigger tiger…
tiger pitcher 17 stretch
I just liked this picture.

Oh yeah, and here’s the fabulous photographer….

yeah, I never claimed to be normal…

So, if you live here in Okinawa, definitely check out one of these games. How many of us get to say we watched a pro baseball game for free? and in Japan?

Keep safe, watch baseball and have fun until the next blog!