Han and I are a bit of an odd couple. Aside from the obvious, our rare Western female/Taiwanese male combo, and the fact that I’m 4 years older than Han we’re an “opposites attract” kind of couple. Han could be explained as a sports loving jock who thinks he’s a comedian, and I guess I’m the artsy film loving techie geek who’s too serious most of the time.
What binds us, I think, is that both of us are not stereotypical for our cultures and we both enjoy trying anything once even if it isn’t something we wouldn’t do on our own.
One of the things I’ve had to endure for him has been baseball. Thankfully, Asian baseball is something completely different. It’s like being at a rock concert filled with the most die-hard fans. The cheering, chanting and hollering does not end, ever, E V E R!!! and baseball games are freakin’ long!
Han and I saw games I’m sure some baseball fans would drool over on our 3 week trip in Japan. We went to Tokyo Dome (Yomiuri Giants vs Yakult Swallows), Chiba Marine Stadium (Chiba Lotte Marines vs Orix Buffaloes), Meiji-Jingu Stadium (Yakult Swallows vs Yokohama Baystars), and finally the Japanese All-star game at Yokohama Stadium (the best from both the Central and Pacific Japanese leagues).
Although I have an increasing tolerance for baseball the best part is still the people watching. Each team seems to have half a dozen chants that each fan knows by heart as well as some kind of “gimic” when their team has a run.
The swallows do an umbrella dance.
The giants swirl orange towels over there heads.
The Marines wave checkered flags around.
….and my favorite, they also start a polite mosh pit 🙂 jumping up and down while chanting.
It seemed during the allstars game some people were torn in two and were singing the half dozen chants for their home team as well as the half dozen for another favorite team.
One of my favorite things in Japan was seeing girls in Kimonos. Like the Indian sari I’m so glad the Japanese girls haven’t completely abandoned this beautiful and feminine way of dress. Surprisingly I probably saw the most kimonos at the sporting events I did attend. Han and I also, unfortunately, saw a wrestling match by the Japanese “NOAH” league. It was horrible, fake and noisy…. although he loved it (sigh) but that doesn’t get its own post.
At Japanese games there are a bunch of young people who walk around selling beer or bento boxes, they’re kind of like walking concession stands. Probably the most entertaining moment of all my baseball experience was watching this guy (and having my ear drums burst) who loves his job just a little too much. I promised Han I’d try to make him famous.
The most hilarious thing is I was trying so hard to get him on video, his big loud scream followed by his arm swirling the cup above his head. I didn’t want him to know I was filming him so I tried really hard to be discreet and act like I was just filming the crowd… but I think he caught on anyway so he wouldn’t give it as much gusto when he passed me or would wait until he was far away to do it. Finally after awhile I’d gotten bored taking pictures and videos so I tucked my camera away. The next time he walked by he gave it his all and mid-way looked down at me from the corner of his eye with a little glint of “ha ha ha! You’re plans have been foiled!” . I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing.. but I did catch him anyway even though the arm swirl in the video isn’t as dramatic as it was when he wasn’t on guard. Thank you concession guy for making my baseball night less boring. I’m not being mean, I truly think this guy is awesome. I’m sure he sells more than the whole bunch. Even more than the cute girls.
Anyway, whether you live in Japan, Korea and Taiwan…. even if you hate baseball and sports…try to hit one game at least. It’s a unique experience.