Thursday, October 08, 2009

Baseball Jingo

After an afternoon of visiting some impressive shrines including Meiji Jingo, walking eclectic fashion streets complete with doggie pet costume shops and taking a confused passing interest in the Cosplay-zoku (Lolita goths) and surprisingly uncoordinated dancing bill-rocker boys (apparently the Elvis's were out of town) at Jingo Bashi, what better way to round off a weekend in Tokyo then to take in a national past time - baseball.

This was accompanied by some of the most out of tune and odd chanting I have had the misfortune to come across...

A traditional wedding at Meiji Jingo

Arguably Japan's biggest team, the Yomiuri Giants, were taking on the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at the latter's ground. Meeting up with Dom and his mate's we took a seat at first base and watched the night unfold. A few local beer's sold by ladies in cheer leading costumes helped us make sense of the slowly unravelling action. “Our” team, the Swallows, only scored one run despite at one point having base's loaded (far too many jokes... ). The Giants swept them aside with a couple of big hits and general all round dominating play. The real entertainment though came from the crowd – quite unlike anything I've seen before. The home and away fans would take it in turns to do their well rehearsed chants. None of the banter or overpowering competitive chanting that graces most European games. Instead mutual respect. Strange. The best bit had to be the home teams' little umbrella dance. One impromptu jiggle prompted by their sole score was outdone by the full shabang sometime around the 7th innings. Prompted by amazingly asexual cheerleaders (blown away by the beer-girls!), the crowd went about as wild as it gets in its slightly peculiar regimented way.

A top evening and about time to leave Tokyo. Waking early we braved the incredibly pushy and rude rush-hour commuter trains (an intriguing contrast to the almost over-polite way you are treated in all other activities), stamped our magical JR pass (a pass to nearly all JR trains for a fraction of the normal price) and shot off on the “Shinkansen” bullet train to Kyoto.

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