Monday, September 04, 2006

The Hanshin Adventures of Marinerd Deanna

I just like the way that sounds.

So, today I took the train down to Osaka. I get out of the Osaka JR station and the first thing I see is an Ichiro ad. No joke.

After checking in and just resting my feet and watching some TV and enjoying the airconditioning for a while -- after all, carrying a 30-35 pound backpack suitcase is sort of annoying after walking a few miles with it in the heat -- I wandered around the Umeda area of Osaka, since that's where I'm staying. I had a goal of "I'm going to go around until I find a place where it's possible to buy Hanshin Tigers tickets", figuring I'd find a Lawton's or something like that, but no. After going in circles around the main JR station a bit, I found it.

It? you ask.

Yes, IT. The motherlode of Tigers stuff. The Hanshin department store. Holy crap.

The 8th floor of the department store has a Hanshin Tigers shop and it's AMAZING. I mean, EVERYTHING Tigers you could ever possibly want or not want... shirts, goods, keychains, noisemakers, posters, pictures, notebooks, bags, soap dispensers, hats, stuffed animals, pens, etc etc etc etc. I wandered around it for about a half hour just looking at all the stuff in amazement, and eventually settled on a Kanemoto number t-shirt and a noisemaker, after talking to some store clerks about "gaijin sizes", heh.

Unfortunately, though, they couldn't sell me game tickets up there.

So I went down to the first floor to the information booth and asked them about buying Tigers tickets... but they seemed unwilling to try to explain it to me in Japanese, so they called up some dude who spoke English and he talked to me on the phone like "Come to the info booth downstairs and I'll direct you to the ticket sellers".

Okay, great. But I go downstairs and it's... the basement of a Japanese department store.

Which normally is awesome. I LOVE the basements, which are the food levels. It smells so great, and there are a ton of people yelling that you should come buy the food they are preparing, and it's all really yummy looking except possibly some of the weirder seafood stands. So here I am, swimming in stands selling gyoza, sushi, baked goods, tempura, okonomiyaki and yakisoba, omurice, ebifry, and just a ton of random stuff... and I'm hungry since it's 6pm... but I've got a mission, goddamnit! So I finally find the Info booth and the guy sees me -- I'm the only gaijin I've seen in the store so far -- and he's like "Ahhh, you want the baseball tickets! Yes?" and then points me down ANOTHER aisle, says to go to the end, turn right, and exit the store.

I'm confused, but I comply.

I get to that location and sure enough, there's a "Hanshin Playguide" which means "place to buy tickets to a ton of random stuff". Great! I go up to the counter and ask if I can buy Hanshin Tigers tickets, and am told to go to the OTHER window in the ticket booth. GEEZ :)

Finally, I talk to a lady who can sell me Hanshin Tigers tickets! Joy! Except at first it looks like they're all sold out this week, only it turns out the chart means this weekend, not this week, and they can't sell me Tuesday tickets but they can sell me Wednesday or Thursday, if I want to sit towards the back of the infield on the third-base side, since that's about all they have left.

Goddamnit, I just want to see a game at Koshien. So I buy the tickets for Wednesday. Hopefully my best friend will get here to Osaka in a few hours and won't already have something else planned for Wednesday... because we are GOING to Koshien OR ELSE.

I'm going to a Tigers-Giants game!!!! I'm going to a Tigers-Giants game!!!!

This is like the Japanese equivalent of going to a RedSox-Yankees game at Fenway Park. I'm dead serious. These are the two biggest teams in Japan in terms of fanbase, the Giants have always been like the Yankees of Japan, the Tigers have always had just as huge and devout a following, and also, they've been in the Japan Series twice in the last three years, after not being good for quite a while. And Koshien is one of the oldest stadiums in Japan, built in 1924. So yeah. I'm psyched.

And, after getting the tickets, I went back to that tasty-looking okonomiyaki stand and bought some, and it was, indeed, quite tasty. I love this place.

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