Sports are definitely a part of the fabric of any culture; deeply woven into childhood memories, wrapped up in historical milestones, giving us heroes, rivals, underdogs, champions...and ultimately unifying a group of people over a common goal.
In the states we have Super Bowl Sunday, the NBA finals, March Maddness...just to name a few. They're cultural icons woven into our American ideals and the moment you step away from the states you realize just how true that is. A few years ago when I was living in Uganda, I woke up at 2am to watch the Super Bowl with a room full of Americans. We bonded over the nostalgia of it all and found humor in the fact that we were all gathered around a TV in the middle of the night in the middle of Africa watching football. ahhh...sports.
Now that I get to call Japan home (almost for a year!) I have gotten past the fact that my number one sport, basketball, just isn't the same here... and fully accepted a new sports hobby : Baseball.
Baseball is THE sport in Japan. Not only is it the sport that most Japanese people have been famous overseas for (ICHIROOOO) but baseball teams here have huge followings. Also, every summer there is a huge high school baseball tournament (similar to the Little League World Series) called Koshien. One school from every prefecture advances to the tournament and it is a big deal here.
My high school had GAME 1 of the tournamnet recently and myself, and a bunch of other teachers went to watch. Coincidentally, on that same day, I had planned to see a professional baseball game with a few friends so this day was easily dubbed : 野球の日...BASEBALL DAY.
The game was held at a nearby stadium and all the teachers drove there while most of the students rode their bikes.
All of the sports teams came to support the baseball boys. The pic on the right is of me and two of the basektball girls, Saki and Hana!
The underclassmen baseball boys are in charge of the cheering...which is a huge part of the culture of the game. They lay out posters of song names on them that they have all memorized. A different song is held up according to each player and the band plays along.
Everyone was given a cone to cheer with...either shouting in them or banging them to make a loud sound. Everyone stands up while our team is up to bat, cheering, dancing, screaming, and rooting for the team like it's game 7 of the NBA finals!
The underclassmen working hard to support their team! so cute
Our team won 4-1 and moved on to the second round, where (sadly) they lost.
But, being able to attend one of their games was really fun as a teacher. I have a lot of the baseball boys in my classes and they always greet me with an eager and LOUD "HELLO AMIE SENSEI" with a bow. I used to wonder why they were all so loud...but after attending a game it all makes sense now haha.
So after attending our school's game, Steph and I headed into Tokyo to go see a game at TOKYO DOME! I was all excited to wear my Giants hat, but then I looked at the tickets again and realized I wasn't going to a Giants game but a Softbank VS Marines game LOL. That's like bringing a Lakers hat to a Clippers vs Warriors game. No.No
Even though Tokyo Dome is usually home to the Giants, the home team this night was the Marines so everyone got a free Marines Jersey.
KARAAGE AT A BALL GAME YESSSS PLEASE.
I met Saki back in 2008 or so when we were highschoolers and we recently reconnected back in Japan. Saki mentioned she loved baseball so I got super excited and we scheduled this game together. It was so fun cheering on the team with her and her favorite player Navarro who is from Dominican Republic LOL...not even Japanese!
EDEMAME > PEANUTS
The Softbank Hawks KILLED the Marines...and although the game wasn't terribly exciting, I still had a great time with Steph and Saki, and Saki's friend!
野球の日 was a crazy day but I learned that baseball in Japan is much more exciting than back in the states. I can't exactly say why...maybe it's because back in the states there are so many competing sports to watch so for me, MLB gets swept under the rug. But here...baseball really is life. People are die hard fans and the cheering at games is non stop. I love it though, and I love that I have found a sport to follow here in the motherland!