Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baseball game fun and fare in Japan.

In the last of the perfectly clear, cool evenings before the rapid change into humid, sweltering heat, one has to find ways to spend as much time outside as possible. We have used our balcony, gone to the river, taken bike rides, and left our windows wide open to let in the sweet smell of spring. While these are all fantastic reasons for being outdoors (or letting the outdoors in) it is difficult to compete with attending a baseball game in an outdoor stadium. Yes, even in Japan, the act of flocking to a stadium to watch a good old fashioned baseball game with beer in hand is readily accessible and fantastically popular.

There are, of course, some drastic differences. Japan being Japan, they have successfully made it possible for game-goers to purchase bentos, beers, souvenirs, and more, from street vendors on the sidewalks between the train stations and the stadium. On our walk to the game last night, we picked up some edamame, fried spring rolls, yakisoba, gyoza, and 3 cans of beer.

Buying edamame and beer...

In front of Jingu Stadium before the game with our supply of game time fare...

The amazing thing is that you can bring all of these foods/beverages into the stadium! In the States, you can't get into the stadium with a bottle of water. Here's the catch: you have to pour your beverage of choice into paper cups provided for you. Apparently they have had problems with people throwing cans or bottles at players (hard for me to imagine, as the crowds last night were far from malicious in any way) so instead of taking away the ability to bring beverages into the stadium, they somehow keep a completely organized process of politely taking your beverage can or bottle and pouring it into a cup. Here is a little commentary on the hilarious illustration and caption from the cup:

Being the good Minnesotan that I am, I adore the Twins. I am not a fan of most other sports, but the Twins I will follow forever and ever and ever. End of story. (And if Brad asks, I am a Broncos fan too- even though I can't make it through a game without falling asleep. Woo Broncos!) Back to the important stuff. When I go to a Twins game, I always have a "Dome Dog" and a beer. Those are my staples. I did not expect to find anything close to my usual "Dome Dog" piled with relish, onions, ketchup and mustard. To my surprise, when we walked into the stadium after having our beers transferred to their allowed paper cups, the clouds parted, the angels began singing, and the sun shone down on...a HOT DOG STAND! Yessssss.

You can probably guess that I made it to the stand before the end of the game. Brad was in charge of eating the food we picked up on the way to the game, while I held out for my much anticipated hot dog. After the 6th inning, we went to stand in line. A woman came up to me with a piece of paper, asked me what I wanted, wrote it down and handed the paper to me. I had pointed to a picture of what looked as much like a dome dog as possible. After I ordered at the counter, I was handed a little cardboard hot dog holder with...a bratwurst?

So excited!!!

Somehow, I had ordered a bratwurst instead of a hot dog. Super. I decided to be excited about it anyway- I like brats, right? No worries...the "Dome Dog" will have to wait until the appropriate time at a Twins game this summer. After loading the brat with relish, onions, ketchup and mustard, we returned to the game and ordered two beers from the Beer Girls. They were crazy cool. They looked like they were carrying rocket packs on their backs but actually it was 25kg of beer! Their outfits were a riot and when you politely raised a hand to signify you needed a thirst quenching brew, she would smile delicately and with a twinkle in her eye, hand over a perfectly poured beer (in a paper cup).

I had a hard time watching the actual baseball game because the people were so interesting to watch. Maybe next time I will be a little less distracted. Maybe not. Either way, it was a perfect way to spend a clear, cool evening before the rapid change to the humid, sweltering heat of summer.


vicarious said...

FABULOUS! Well written. Great pictures. So fun to read.

One Food Guy said...

Hey there, just stumbled on your site through Foodbuzz; great post about baseball fare in Japan! I'm looking forward to following along on your food adventures :) and finding out how the Tokyo dome dog turns out!

Dain said...

The Japanese baseball experience sounds like a good time. Good to know that wherever baseball is played, hot dogs or brats can be devoured :)

I haven't even been to an American baseball game yet this season, but that will be changing soon. Dome dogs will be a thing of the past after this year as they'll be playing outside :( What will they call them now?? Hope you and Brad are well!

Rachael said...

Vicarious: Glad you enjoyed the read! It was a fun blog to write!

One Food Guy: Thanks for the comment on your first-time visit! Hope to see many more comments from you in the future!

Dain: Japanese baseball is definitely an experience. However, it does not come close to Minnesota Twins baseball. There is just no contest! Game this summer perhaps?

MAA said...

Can't wait to have hamburgers and hot dogs on the deck in Colorado when you get here. Did Brad tell you I have some herbs growing for you? My plan is to sit back, relax and let you do the cooking!! Can't wait to make pasta together again. I haven't made any since we did that last summer. It's no fun making it alone! Can't wait to see you guys!! Love, Maaaa