Go Tigers!

Bang the bats and chant,
Go, Hanshin Tigers lets go,
Or so I assume.

On Saturday May 10th, we left Yunomine Onsen on an hour long bus ride to the coastal city of Shingu. We had a bit of free time before our train left for Osaka, so we decided to visit a couple of Shinto Shrines. The first was different from most Shrines we have visited thus far. This one was located on the side of a mountain, which required a travelling up horribly uneven, steep, rock staircase. It was like builders had just poured cement down the mountainside, then threw a bunch of rocks into it, to make steps. I (Geoffery) personally enjoyed the challenge, and once the steep staircase was scaled, the path leveled out to be smooth and flat. However, half of our group were conquered by the staircase, and chose to stay at a midway point. If you chose to make the entire climb, you were treated with an amazing view of the city and ocean!

After raiding a local grocery store, we boarded our train to Osaka and rode the four hour ride in peace and quiet. Once we arrived, we checked into a very nice hotel and then went our seperate ways for the evening to explore Osaka. My experience was particulary fun, for I met up with a fellow hometown high school graduate who is taking a year of college to study in Osaka. He gave me a very nice tour of the city. We went to many places, such as; Den Den Town, which is a district of electronic and magna stores. Another place we went was, America Mura, a district meant to look like the United States of America. There we saw a Humvee driving around and believe me, you never see Humvees in Japan. Now we all know what vehicle the USA is associated with.

The next day, Sunday May 11th (Happy Mothers Day) was the day we went to see a baseball game between the Hanshin Tigers(Osaka) and the Yomiuri Giants(Tokyo). It was a 2pm game, so everyone putzed around for the morning and then we made our way to the stadium around noon. We quickly learned how popular the Tigers are when we had to squeeze onto an overcrowded train. Several group members` claustrophobia not withstanding, we all made it to the game safely.

Our seats were located in the right field section, just on the foul ball side of the foul pole. As far as the field goes, there were almost no differences, but their were several other elements that were different from American baseball. One, the Tigers used three different mascots. Two, Japan teams have cheer leaders. Three, as everyone noticed, the fans chant almost the entire game. They do not quiet down for pitches like we do back home, so you must be attentive to not miss a pitch.

(The view from our seats)

For me(Blaise), the fans were the best part of the game. Their relentless passion for the Tigers was expressed by their constant chanting and noise making. They had different chants for every player, including our groups favorite player Yamato. These chants would last for the duration of the players At Bat. Of course we had no idea what they were chanting, but we would just clap along with noise makers, which were a must for all Tiger fans. One thing that would interesting was that they had a pep band, which you don`t often see at professional sporting events.

One of the most exciting parts of the game happend in the middle of the 7th inning, when we would normally sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. All of the fans would blow up balloons and release them all at the same time. It was an awesome specticle to watch 20,000 balloons be shot into the air all at once.

(Tiger fans celebrating the win)

Besides the fans being great, we were treated to a great baseball game. Our pitcher dominated from start to finish, firing a complete game shut out. Our Tigers squeked in a run in the second inning, which was good enough to win the game with a final score of 1-0. Again, as the final out was recorded, the fans sent off a display of balloons.

After the game, the fans didn`t rush out of the stadium, instead they stick around to do more chants and sing the Tiger fight song. At this point we were entertained by intoxicated fans trying to teach us the words to their chants. Despite not having a clue what they were saying, we yelled something close, and just made a lot of noise.

One thing that Ellie noticed during the game was a fan wearing a Nishioka jersey. For all you Twins fans out their, you should recgonize this name. Tsuyoshi had a brief career with the Minnesota Twins a couple years ago, before he got injured and returned to play for the Hanshin Tigers here in Japan.

After making it through a very crowded train station, we made it back to our hotel. Some people then went to a Cat Cafe and other went to enjoy some more Ramen. I went with the Ramen crowd as I am definitely a dog person.

Tomorrow we will be traveling to Hiroshima, which is our last stop before we head back to Tokyo. I am writing this on Monday morning, but that is really Sunday back in the States, so Happy Mothers Day to all of our groups Mothers and Mothers everywhere. God Bless! Blaise and Geoffey.

Beer Vendors are loud,
the fans are very intense,
Go Hanshin Tigers!

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