I'm in Hiroshima for the weekend to watch the Fighters-Carp interleague series. I find that my life has come full circle in perhaps an odd way...
Me, in my early threes
Me, in my early thirties
(If you don't know, the latter one is Slyly, the Hiroshima Carp mascot, who I joke is "the Philly Phanatic's half-brother".)
Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima is FANTASTIC. Seriously, this is going to sound funny, but it reminds me of Citizens Bank Park in many ways. There is definitely a real "major-league" stadium influence to this place, and at the same time, it is completely and utterly Japanese. It's a little hard to explain. I'll post photos for real when I get home. But if you are looking for a good baseball trip in Japan, I seriously recommend Hiroshima, though you want to plan in advance and make sure you get tickets, since I hear a lot of the games here do sell out.
Saturday's game was also fantastic. We had Darvish starting for us, and of course he won the game, with Shinji Takahashi stepping up and also batting in a ton of runs, the final score being 5-1. The only downers were that first, the Carp starter was Yuki Saitoh (the one I'm a fan of, not the Waseda pitcher) and of course it was a shame to see him lose, especially since yesterday was his birthday. The other downer was no Takuro Ishii appearance... this was my first Carp game this year and I'm hoping to see him again at some point.
One other downer is that they let people in 4 hours before the game, but you can't go down to the field level unless you have a ticket for that area, even during BP (not a surprise, this is still Japan after all) but even if you DO have a ticket for that area you can't go down there until 2 hours before game time. I'm going back for Sunday's game and will show up fairly early in the hopes of taking some more photos, but don't expect to be too successful partially due to those restrictions and partially due to the fact that it's raining right now. It was raining during the game too, and obnoxiously, the wind blew away my big plastic bag that I was going to put over my tote bag or scorecard. Sigh.
Also, the way this stadium is, the "visitor's performance area" is actually an entire section... quarantined from the rest of the stadium. It's a balcony, kind of like a disconnected second floor area, but over the far infield way past third base, rather than being in the outfield. So it's kind of good in that you are in a section full of your team's fans (theoretically -- there was an old guy Carp fan sitting behind me and he was yelling obnoxious stuff for the first two innings until a bunch of people basically said "You are in the VISITOR area, SHUT UP.") but it's bad in that it's really far away from the field and also in that it's reserved seating, which makes it really annoying to plan to go there with your friends because you all have to buy tickets in advance together, etc. As a result, I knew several people at the game, but ended up sitting by myself far away from them because that's where my ticket was.
On the other hand, a bunch of people that I didn't know before, but who said they always see me at the Tokyo Dome and Seibu Dome, and who were astounded that I travelled all the way down to Hiroshima by myself for the Fighters game (apparently this is weird enough for a Japanese female to do, let alone for a foreign female) invited me to get okonomiyaki after the game, and so I can categorically say, now that I've eaten real Hiroshima-yaki in Hiroshima -- it really IS the best thing ever.
Also, today is Father's Day. If your father is still alive, unlike mine, please call him or send him an email or take him to a baseball game or something. My dad took that top photo of me with the Philly Phanatic, and I know he would have gotten a kick out of the photo with Slyly.