Saturday, September 30, 2023

Japan 2023 ✈ Hanshin Tigers Baseball Game

We had originally planned to visit Japan in June 2020. Over the last 3 years, we had cancelled and rebooked this trip multiple times as Japan was one of the last few countries to reopen its borders to tourism post-Covid. After waiting for 3 years, we were glad to finally make this trip happen this year! This trip has been 3 years in the making and I must say Japan certainly lived up to our anticipation!

18 Apr 2023 (Tues): Hanshin Tigers Baseball Game @ Koshien Stadium
Back in 2020 when we first planned our Japan trip, we had planned to watch a baseball game in Japan but of course that trip didn't happen. Fortunately, our trip this year coincided with the beginning of the baseball season and the Hanshin Tigers was scheduled to play at Koshien stadium while we were there. 

There are actually two pro baseball teams in the Kansai region - Orix Buffaloes (Kyocera Dome) and Hanshin Tigers (Koshien Stadium). We chose Hanshin Tigers because they are one of the most iconic teams in Japanese baseball, and the best part, they have crazy fans and the loudest stadium.

I know nothing about baseball so hubby was the one in charge of the research on  purchasing the tickets and choosing the seats, all using Google translate. We bought our tickets for the April 18 Hanshin Tigers vs. Hiroshima Carp game on March 2, and received the QR code (tickets) via email...all in Japanese. Our ticket cost ¥4,700 ($35) per person.

After spending first half of the day at Nara, we took the train from Nara and arrived Koshien Station at 4.10pm, 2 hours before the game started. Many other Hanshin Tigers fans were also arriving on the same train so we followed the crowd towards the stadium. 

We arrived earlier to buy cheer bats, and hubby wanted a Hanshin Tigers shirt. We bought the 2 cheer bats from the Lawsons store outside of the stadium for ¥1,600 ($12) and hubby got a T-shirt from the official merchandise store for ¥3,630 ($27). The Hanshin Tigers fans are definitely very supportive coz the official merchandise store was packed! 

We walked around the stadium, took photos with the mascots, and saw the Babe Ruth monument. Hanshin Koshien Stadium is an iconic sports mecca in the Kansai Region. It was built in 1924 and is the oldest baseball stadium in Japan. It hosts the National High School Baseball Championship every summer. We entered the stadium from gate 5.

After entering the stadium at 5.20pm, we walked around to check out the food options. Koshien stadium offers an extensive food selection, there were stalls selling sushi, yakisoba, yakitori, takoyaki, pizza, ice cream, beer, etc.

We bought two player-themed bentos and Asahi beers for dinner. I chose #5 Chikamoto bento with octopus, while hubby chose #0 Kinami with hamburger patty. The bentos had a very nice presentation but it looked better than it tasted. Throughout the game, we bought some chicken skewers and a few more beers, and spent a total of ¥9,600 ($72). We used credit card to pay for the food at the stalls, but used cash for the beer girls.

Our seats (29段 55 & 56) cost a bit more because it was in the covered section (right field by 1st base) and was more comfortable with backrest, and flip table for food & drinks. It rained a lil' at the beginning of the game so we were glad we chose these seats.

The crowds started arriving as it got closer to game time

The stadium was full by 7pm. We were actually surprised the stadium was completely full as it was a Tuesday and most people had to go to school/work. We saw many fans who came straight from work in suit. Tigers fans are amazing! 

The atmosphere throughout the 3-hour game was absolutely incredible with the Tigers' fans cheering, chanting, and singing all night long. The coordinated cheers and 'karaoke' went on for the whole game (whenever Tigers was batting) with a different cheer song for each player. We were so glad to sit in front of a kid who is a big fan as he was singing along every single song. I don't know much about baseball game so I actually enjoyed the crowd more than the game coz the fans' energy and enthusiasm were ecstatic! 

It was 0-0 for most of the game and Tigers was trailing 0-1 until the very end. It was the bottom of the 9th inning, all bases were loaded, 2 strikes 2 outs, foul balls 4 times to stay alive, and Tigers won with the very last swing! As you can imagine, the entire stadium went crazy celebrating the victory! You've gotta watch the video to 'feel' the atmosphere.

The game ended around 9pm and we took the train/subway for 30 minutes back to Osaka. The train station and train were crowded but it was very organized and orderly. We didn't even have to wait at all for the train back to Osaka.

Our first Japanese baseball game was such a great and fun experience. We definitely recommend everyone to watch a Japanese baseball game if they visit Japan, even for those who doesn't know baseball. On a side note, we were so glad we saw the Hanshin Tigers, coz they just won the Central League Championship for the first time in 18 years!

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