My wife is a big baseball fan, and when she learned that the season opener was going to take place at the Tokyo Dome, she worked her Internet magic and got us tickets to the first game of the season. It was decidedly a more American affair than my last baseball game, but it was an interesting cultural milestone for the sport and Japanese fans.
So, how do you get these tickets? Well, a lottery, of course! We went through the convenience store chain Lawson, because in Japan, you can get tickets for everything from convenience stores. Funny how they’re actually super convenient, right? We registered a Lawson account and put in our seat preferences and waited. Sure enough, our number was called and we got our second seat preference: nosebleeds by first base, close to right field.
American Baseball in Japan
The game was very much American style: No official cheering sections, no musical instruments, walkout songs, and tons of American visitors to the stadium. It reminded me of being back at Chase Field in Phoenix, just hanging out and watching a game while spending time with friends. It was refreshing! The opening performance by the Air Force band was really nice, too. They had a great vocalist come out and sing both of the national anthems. This was actually the first time I’d ever heard the words to the Japanese anthem. Up until that point, I’d only heard the instrumental version.
The big draw was the match up: The Oakland A’s vs the Seattle Mariners. The famed first Japanese position player, Ichiro, was playing right field this first game. Every time he got up to bat or took the field, cameras erupted in a flurry of flashes as the Japanese fans tried to capture his last moments as an MLB pro. We went on the very first day, where Ichiro was taken out in the 4th inning. The day after, the second day, was when The Mariners cleared the field and Ichiro officially retired.
It was a nice game, albeit very slow in the mid game. After the grand slam from the Mariners, the A’s pitchers seemed to slow down and the game lagged. But overall, it was a good live game experience, and if you ever get the chance to travel abroad for any kind of opener, I’d highly recommend it!