Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Game 3: Hanshin Tigers vs Hiroshima Carp. No Spider-man Catches, but an Exciting Game

If you're lost on the way to a baseball game in Hiroshima, follow the mass of Carp jerseys through Matsubaracho and Higashikojinmachi. Listen to the shopkeepers hawking their wares on either side of the narrow street: Takoyaki, edamame, and yakitori make great snacks before a game. See the man dressed as a mug of beer trying to entice you to have a cold one. In the distance, beyond the sea of parked motorcycles and bicycles, stands the red fa├žade of Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium.

Fans on their way to a Hiroshima Carp game
Follow the fans
Kara age vendor
Guy dressed as beer
Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium

As you enter the gates, you’ll notice the concourse is wider than most Japanese stadiums. The food is different than what you’d find in Tokyo, too. Teppan and okonomiyaki are sold at the concession stands, but if you’re craving a hot dog, they have that, too. 

Inside Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium
Grilled goodies
Rice balls
More culinary variety
If it’s a hot and sunny day, you’ll be relieved when your seat is in the shade on the lower level. As you look around, you’ll notice the oendan (fan club) sections of both teams are in the direct sunlight of the upper outfield stands. You’ll be amazed that the fans of the visiting Hanshin Tigers of Osaka, 175 miles away, are louder than the fans of the home team. 

Covered seating at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium
Hiroshima Carp fan club
Hanshin Tigers fan club
Serious Tigers fan
When you look toward the openness of center field, you’ll see the Shinkansen (bullet trains) pass. If it weren’t for the super high-speed trains zipping by, you may be reminded of Citi Field in New York or the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. (Citi Field gets my vote.) 

Bullet train buzzes by Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium
Bullet train in the outfield
View of Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium
Celebrating 60 years of the Hiroshima Carp
You’ll be amazed at the kindness of strangers as a man escorts lost members of your group to their seats. You’ll become friends with the little girl across the aisle because your group of foreigners fascinates her. 

New friend
You’ll laugh at Slyly, the Carp’s mascot, and think he looks like the Phillie Phanatic. (He was actually designed by the same company as the Phanatic, so he’s a relative and not a rip-off.) During the 7th inning stretch, you’ll sing the Carp fight song and release red balloons into the hot summer sky. 

You’ll cheer when Tigers first baseman Craig Brazell, who had a watered-down cup of coffee with the Mets and the Royals, hits his 41st home run of the season, good for second in the Central League. Then you’ll cheer even harder when Carp players you’ve never heard of mount a furious comeback. You’ll be disappointed that they couldn’t quite pull it off, but you’ll be happy it was a great game.

You’ll walk among the masses again as fans head home via train or walk to hotels in the area. You’ll hear the chatter of a foreign language, oblivious to its meaning, but somehow you’ll feel right at home.


Daniel said...

Beautiful work, Susan. You've described why I love Hiroshima and the Carp better than I ever could.

shrinecastle said...

Thanks, Dan. I love the atmosphere of that stadium and its surroundings. A great place, as you know.

Lonestarr said...

Aha! I knew they had to be related!