Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Foto - Giants Kaimaku Matsuri

Yes, this is an anti-Giants blog, but this is also a "random neat things related to Japanese baseball" blog, and I think that the little exhibit the Giants put up for Opening Day was actually pretty neat, even if it featured Those Evil Guys.

Besides, I don't have time to write anything right now -- I'm leaving Japan in about 12 hours to go back to the US for a week visit. I'm heading to Seattle from April 12 - 16 and then Pittsburgh from April 17 - 20. This will be my first time returning to the states since I moved here, so I'm expecting a decent amount of reverse culture shock. I mean, it'll be nice to eat burritos and real pizza again, and buy shoes in sizes that actually fit me, and not get stared at everywhere just for having white skin. But I'll also have to turn my city sense back on and stop doing things like walking around alone late at night. Also, I'll have to remember how to drive a car, and which side of the road they go on. And there won't be vending machines everywhere! Yikes!

Anyway, about two weeks ago I met up with an old college friend of mine who moved to Japan last fall, but I didn't find that out until recently. He actually doesn't care about baseball at all, but he likes roller coasters, so after wandering through Jimbocho, we took a walk up to the Tokyo Dome area. Walking past the dome and all of the pictures of players, I kept rambling about how evil the Giants are and how they steal all the good players and they're like the Yankees and I hate hate hate them. Going through LaQua, though, I noticed there was some sort of weird carnival-booth-like thing in the courtyard, so I said "Hey... uhh... can we go check that out?"

"Wait, I thought you said you hated the Giants?" my friend asked.

"Yeah, but... it's... well, it's baseball. I'll just be a minute and snap some photos." I was already speedwalking towards the stairs.

Giants Kaimaku Matsuri, this way. Check your evil detectors at the gate.

Various little booths; pictures from spring training, signed baseballs from players, bats and gloves and other equipment that you could play with.

A big stage area was set up with movies of various Giants teams in various moments of glory.

Tatsunori Hara wants YOU to join his forces for evil in a game of Recapture The Flag.

My friend commented, "You know what's weird? The Japanese signatures all look like a bunch of scribbles with a number underneath, but the foreign signatures look really nice and well-written! Look at that Kroon guy's signature!" I remarked, "I bet Japanese people think the exact opposite thing -- like 'why do those foreigners have such ugly scribbles? Kanji are so beautiful!'"

"That picture is weird," my friend said. "Only one of the dudes appears to be on the Giants."
"Err..." I started. "The guys NOT in Giants uniforms are two of the greatest baseball players in Giants and Japanese baseball history."
"Oh yeah?" he said.
"Yeah, Oh," I replied.
"The guy on the left is Sadaharu Oh. You probably have heard of him. He hit 868 career home runs. Now he manages the Hawks, hence the uniform."
"Okay, and who's the other old dude?"
"That other old dude is Shigeo Nagashima. He was so well-loved by Giants fans for a bazillion years, that they don't even bother calling him Mr. Giants, they just call him Mister."

"Cool!" I said. "Give me a minute; I'm gonna go curse Ogasawara's clean-shaven doppleganger's bat, if you don't mind."
"I have no clue what the heck you just said. Go ahead."

Big inflatable baseball of pure love. Or something.

Yoshinobu Takahashi's helmet and shin guards.

Tetsuya Utsumi's shoes. I know, I know, this crush on Utsumi will only lead to heartache and strife when I am forced to face the fact that he is pure evil. I went through the same thing with Yoshinobu too.

Anyway, uh... I'll write more from America. This blog actually hit its third birthday earlier this week and I should probably stop to reflect on that fact at some point.

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