I had three goals for Japan. 1. Yomiuri Giants game. 2. Dawn visit to the world's greatest fish market. 3. A Bathing Ape. I left batting .666.
The Giants were on the road the week that we made it to Tokyo. But Japan's historic baseball madness ensured that its capitol wouldn't be stuck with merely one baseball club. So we headed to Jingu Stadium our second night in town to watch the Tokyo Yakult Swallows take on the Yokohama Bay Stars, who I think were favored. The scene outside the park, 30 minutes before first pitch:
One mistake I didn't know I was making: I bought us tickets along the third-base line. We quickly learned that was the visitors' fans section. Not that we were invested, but it felt uncharitable to Tokyo to spend all our time amongst the Yokohama supporters. And the culture of stadium fandom is a lot more like soccer than American baseball: there are customized chants for individual players when they step into the box or make impressive plays; lots of team-flag waving at important moments; and lots of cheap noisemakers to cheer on the club.
For instance: witness the passion play of an early-inning at bat by Yokohama's Norihiro Nakamura. I filmed him because a couple people seated in our section were wearing his 99 jersey. From his stats, he seems like a pretty-good journeyman whose best seasons are behind him, but he's got his diehards.