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