After my Hokkaido trip, I spent the rest of my summer days just relaxing in Osaka. One of the last things I did was go to a Hanshin Tigers game. I’ve been meaning to go to one for the longest time after hearing how intense the fans can be. Luckily my friend invited me to come after his friend couldn’t make it.
Koshien Stadium is a pretty well-known stadium in Japan. It’s one of the biggest ones in the country and the high school baseball playoffs occur in it during the summer. Babe Ruth even played a game in it! I’m not a huge baseball fan but even I could appreciate how nice the stadium was:
The Hanshin Tigers could be seen as Japan’s Red Sox. While not the greatest team out there, they are well-known for their energetic, die-hard fans. Legend has it that the team was cursed when they threw a Col. Sanders statue into the Dotombori river when they won the championship in 1985. The statue was never found and thus people believe that is why the Tigers haven’t won the Japan Series since. Regardless, the fans refuse to give up on cheering their team on.
The game did not disappoint. We were up against the Hiroshima Carps, which were also known for their fans. I was amazed that every player on our team had their own personal chant. When the player would come up to bat, everyone without a beat would start doing their chant. It was awesome:
The fans themselves are a treat to watch. Everyone was carrying mini bats, which you use to make a beat by knocking them against each other. There were fans that had trumpets and were playing the song as if they were professional cheerleaders. Watching everyone go nuts whenever someone hit the ball was awesome.
Unfortunately rain was expected that day and it came and went throughout the game. The fans were still prepared for this though as they instantly pulled out their ponchos and umbrellas and refused to move from the stand. Only when it started pouring did people heading inside. Amazingly with two rain delays, the game continued on.
The 7th inning is probably the most famous part of a Hanshin Tigers game. Considered the lucky inning, crowds begin to blow up these long balloons in preparation for it during the sixth inning. When the seventh inning rolls around, all the fans begin to sing the Hanshin Tigers theme. As soon as it’s done, everyone lets go of their blown-up balloons, watching them skyrocket into the air. Seeing hundreds of these balloons fly into the air is a magical thing:
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to watch the entire game. Since the game was delayed twice, I was risking of missing my last train if I decided to stay the entire time. I wish I could’ve because we ended up winning! I highly recommend going to these games if you’re ever in the Kansai region during baseball season. Even if you’re not a baseball fan (like me), you can’t help but get into the spirit with everyone else. Go Tigers!