Baseball in Japan! – The Hiroshima Carps and Their Awesome 7th Inning Stretch
The Hiroshima Carps! The city’s beloved professional baseball team just happened to be playing the night we arrived and to our further delight, the stadium just happened to be a 10 minute walk from our hostel! Game on!
So we headed off with the hordes of Carpheads (just made that up) toward the field donning a pair of plastic bats hung around our neck (thanks to our hostel staff) meant for clapping together to cheer the team on. Kind of (very) silly looking but everyone was doing it so we were all about it.
To summarize, the entire experience was very similar to game in the US save for three things I’ll get to below – but here’s a few photos of the scene.
First, as was expected, they served Japanese fare at the convenience stalls; noodles, rice balls, sushi, etc. There was the occasional hot dog on a stick and some ice cream but no nachos, popcorn or burgers in sight.
And to dispose of these items you were supplied with 8 different trashcans – paper, foam cups, plastic cups, wood, plastic bag, food, aluminum cans and (get ready for it) chopsticks. It would take people 10 minutes just to dispose of everything properly! But you can’t say the Japanese aren’t doing their part to save the earth.
Second, there were couches in the outfield seating. Which is an awesome idea and Camden Yards needs to get on that ASAP.
And third, most notably, the fan base was about 10 times more active than a game in the US. It was more like an English Premier League (soccer) game as they had dozens of lengthy chants, giant flags, a section of trumpets and even an official ‘cheer leader’ who initiated each round of cheering.
It was impressive – they literally didn’t stop all night. By about the 4th inning we had caught on to at least some portions of the chants but had anyone listened to what we were actually saying it would have been clear we were just mumbling jibberish.
The most interesting part of this display of fandom though, came during the 7th inning stretch when the entire stadium joined in on a jolly-sounding Japanese tune (kind of reminiscent of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline). The stadium staff had passed out large red balloons which held a close resemblance to…well, see for yourself…
As the song came to a close everyone, in unison, released their phallic shaped balloons into the night sky for a really cool, kind of strange scene. Fortunately you don’t have to imagine any longer – I took a video:
Magic isn’t it?
The game carried on and ultimately the Carps won! Knocking off the league-leading Chunichi Dragons in a barn-burner 1-0 result!
For what will most likely be our only baseball of the year, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.