It’s the beginning of November and, sad to say, the end of baseball season. I’m a Yankee fan and those in the know about baseball, understand that the Yanks didn’t do so well this year. But that’s sports for you, some years you’re on top and some years you are not.
A few years ago while taking a break from my writer’s life my husband and I went to Japan and being baseball fans we got tickets to a game between the Tokyo Giants and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The stadium named Tokyo Dome is affectionately referred to The Egg. It is really quite large and I guess it resembles an egg.
There is an impressive covered ramp that encircles the stadium.
And there is a charming park in the back of the baseball stadium. It’s a small park, and is as precious looking as any garden you would see throughout Japan. From the ramp you can look down onto the park and watch fat golden koi swimming about in the pond.
One of the fun things about going to The Egg is visiting the arcade that was built next to the stadium.
There is a rollercoaster, a Ferris Wheel and an energetic, noisy arcade.
The rules in Japanese baseball are pretty much the same as here in the USA. But there is a different feeling once inside the stadium. Noodles, sushi, and bento boxes are on display for sale everywhere. There are some hotdogs and hamburgers stands, but the traditional Japanese fare seems to be the preferred food at these games.
During half time orange mascots appear on the field to entertain the people in the stadium.
There is lots of chanting, and evidently these chanters are pretty competitive, too. Some enthusiasts write chants, print them up and hand out copies at the game so that others will join in at the appropriate moment. Some people get airtime with the stadium loudspeaker to teach the game-goers a verse.
Not only is the food different in the stadium, but also the way beverages are sold is unlike how we do it here in the USA. Pretty young female venders walk through the crowd with kegs of beer and soda strapped to their backs. They’ll pour a foamy draft beer right there for you in the stands. And they sell sake and whisky along with wasabi nibbles.
Also, no one gets up while one of the teams is up at bat. Everyone waits until the end of an inning before they quickly carry out their own bento boxes, or the empty soda and beer containers. Not one scrap of trash is left on the floor.
There was a family sitting next to us. They had three very exuberant young boys, one of who spilled a full glass of soda on the floor that trickled down the steps. The people in front of us reported this to the maintenance department and someone came immediately to sop up the spill.
At night when the baseball game is over, you walk out of the stadium, and the noise, the lights from the arcade and rides makes you feel like you stepped out into a party.
I’ll leave you with a short chant that was translated by someone sitting next to us at the game. It was a specific chant to encourage a pitcher, not exactly a haiku but it was to the point.
Pitch that ball
Make that player strike at plate!
Margaret Mendel lives in New York City and is a past board member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, NYC. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. Many of her short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies and this year she published a novel, FISH KICKER. She has just finished a novel, PUSHING WATER, a story based in Vietnam in the years 1938 through 1941, and she has competed a short story collection. For more than twenty years, she worked in the mental health field, though now she devotes herself to writing full time. She is an avid photographer and not only drags a laptop, but a Nikon D7000 camera wherever she goes. Read more about Margaret on her blog at: http://www.pushingtime.com/home/