Baseball in Japan

Cultural Insights — By on August 1, 2006 at 1:56 pm

Ever wondered what baseball games are like in Japan?  Bob Woods has the story in an account he wrote for Continental Magazine.

He writes about both the cultural features of the sport…

Although the first pitch was scheduled for 1 p.m., the Fighters and the visiting Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles had been warming up since around 9 a.m. And we’re not talking the casual pregame warm-ups at ballparks in the States, where players launch fat batting practice pitches into the upper decks, shag some flies, and loosen up their throwing arms, mostly to entertain early-arriving fans. Every one of these players participates in group stretching and exercise routines, several rounds of BP, bunting drills, fielding practice, and anything else the coaches want them to do – for about an hour and a half.  This rigorous approach is one hallmark of Japanese baseball. …

Wa is the Japanese word for unity and team spirit, and … you gotta have it to succeed there in baseball. It’s why every player works so long and hard in pregame drills and boot camp-like spring training, why teamwork supercedes individual accomplishments.

And the colorful aspects of watching a game in Japan …

Every man, woman, and child packed into this section is wearing a white team jersey and joining in the nonstop repertoire of orchestrated cheers … while clapping a pair of bat-shaped plastic noisemakers. The din is led by a corralled group of young men blaring trumpets and waving giant team banners. Women toting mini kegs of beer in insulated backpacks keep adult revelers lubricated. … It feels and sounds like the zany student sections at a Texas vs. Oklahoma gridiron contest, right down to traditional female cheerleaders – wearing pleated skirts and shaking pom-poms – and a costumed mascot.

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