In Japan, baseball is big. Last year at a Halloween bar hop, I watched as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won the Japan Series and fans cheered and clinked their beers and high balls together. Before leaving, I knew I wanted to get to a game, and last month I went with a teacher and another ALT.
We left from Takikawa in the morning and stopped at Rikyu for lunch beforehand. This shop specializes in Sendai style cow tongue. The meat was incredible and their lunch set offered a good variety and value.
After eating, we took the subway to the Sapporo Dome and braved the wet streets with other fans wearing their yellow and blue Fighters jerseys. Thankfully, most baseball parks in Japan are indoors, so once we got to the park, we were protected from the rain.
Stands around the park sell some park fare similar to that in the US, like Mos Burger, but then there are takoyaki and crepe stands for more popular Japanese snacks. During the game, fans clap sticks together to cheer, and the jumbotron projects chants that everyone sings together. Fans don’t boo but instead together root for their team.
In the seventh inning, we started to hear balloons being blown up by pumps for balloon animals. Soon, the stands were full of fans clutching blue balloons. During the seventh inning stretch, the jumbotron announced the time for everyone to release their balloons into the air.
The Fighters lost, pretty badly, and everyone left in low spirits, but we topped off the night with some great tonkotsu ramen from Barikiya before catching a train back to Takikawa.