Epic weekend at Jingu, but I haven't had any time to write about it. So here are some photos with a little bit of text context.
I showed up at 11, and made the mistake of going into the stadium first rather than meeting Kozo outside. So he stayed in section D while I went to do the donation line thing by myself. He'd said there was a huge line at 11am, but by the time I got there, there was pretty much no line, and just some players standing at tables. They had it set up such that a few of the Swallows cheer girls were holding out the donation boxes, and after that were some players, so you put money in the box and then shook hands with some players.
Yasushi Iihara wasn't out there when I went, so I basically saw Oshimoto and picked his line. It was him, Hashimoto, and Carp player rep Ishihara. So I shook their hands and said "Ganbatte kudasai!" to all three of them. Oshi and Hashi are former Fighters so it was kind of funny to me.
(Shortly afterwards they condensed down to 2 lines with more players. Ishikawa and Kyuko moved from the other table to the one I'd been at. Doh! And on my way out, I saw the coaches all showing up -- a few people were like "Hey that's Shiroishi! I want to go shake hands with him!")
There are a bunch of new cheers this year, so the ouendan spent some time before the game teaching them. Iihara, Hamanaka, Kawabata, Hatakeyama, they have new ones, and of course there's one for new guy Balentien. There's also one for manager Ogawa (apparently similar to the one he had in his playing days).
(Teaching Hamanaka's cheer.)
Also, the ouendan held up these signs several times during the game. It says "Our hearts are one, good luck Tohoku, Japan", basically (I guess it's part of the "Ganbare Nihon" slogan stuff).
There were no trumpets or drums, but there was still plenty of singing. And of course it wouldn't be Jingu without the umbrella dancing. Here we are in the middle of the 7th inning, singing Tokyo Ondo, without any trumpets or loudspeaker music or dancing girls on the field.
The Swallows won the game 3-0 on the Kawabata sac fly, Hamanaka solo homer, and an error throwing to 3rd in the 8th inning that allowed Miwa to score. Tateyama pitched well.
Our group at the top of section D.
After the game, rather than the "we won" cheering, there was a yell exchange between both sides, although we hadn't really been warned about it in advance. It mostly degenerated into the entire outfield yelling "NIPPON!" like the soccer cheer.
Kozo and Ben and Mac and I walked to Yoyogi Park to just see what the hanami (cherry-blossom viewing parties, basically people drinking under sakura trees) scene was like, and to get a nice walk. As you can see from this picture, there are plenty of cherry blossoms in bloom, and also plenty of people hanging out under them. Though it's true that maybe there aren't as many people as in past years -- usually you can't move at all during this season, but not this time, we were able to walk through the park just fine.
BTW, if you want a cool hat like mine, go talk to Christopher Pellegrini. :)
Actually, a (Japanese) guy heard us talking in English outside Jingu and was like "do you guys do the Tsubamegun blog? I want one of those caps." He spoke surprisingly good English, I'm used to people staring at our group of English-speakers in a combination of awe/disgust, but he just wanted to say hi.
We also got stopped by several random people in the park like "YEAH! GO SWALLOWS!" or whatnot. One girl even high-fived us all in the subway station afterwards.
Sunday, I met up with Kozo by the train station and we walked to Jingu together. We went to do the earthquake relief donation thing first -- there was a huge line since it was just starting at 11am! But I saw that Yasushi Iihara was out there, and I was wearing my Iihara jersey, so I wanted to be in his line. We waited... we walked... we waited... we walked... and just as we were getting towards the donation area, we see these two white guys with cameras and they yell out to me "Hey, we're from NBC. Can we talk to you a bit?" and I'm like "Sure, can you catch me AFTER the donation line?"
We go through the line. I steer us towards the table that turns out to just be Yasushi and the mascot Tsubakuro. Fortunately it turns out Kozo really wanted to shake hands with Tsubakuro and I really wanted to shake hands with Yasushi so we both got what we wanted. :) I said "Ganbatte kudasai!" and smiled. We didn't plan well so I don't have a photo of me shaking hands with Yasushi, but I do have Kozo with Tsubakuro...
And THEN the NBC guys caught us. They mostly wanted to talk to me until I'm like "You really ought to talk to Kozo too, he also speaks English."
Mostly they asked things like, "Why are you here today? What do you think of all of the donation stuff? What do you think of the earthquake and the way things are now?" Me being me I just babbled all this stuff about how much I love Japanese baseball and go to a whole ton of games and how I think that the donation thing is EXACTLY what they should be doing -- bringing people together, lifting up spirits, collecting money to help the earthquake victims, etc. I babble a lot and sound like an idiot when I'm under pressure like that. Kozo, on the other hand, with his years of debate and speech practice, sounded really good and eloquent. (Take that, foreign press -- the gaijin is a moron but her Japanese friend that you never would have noticed is the well-spoken one!) He pointed out that I probably gave the reporters a lot of good information, even if I sounded like a big big dork.
Me being interviewed.
Kozo being interviewed.
We have no clue if either of us were actually on the news, though. The guy who interviewed us was Lee Cowan, and he said he was with NBC Nightly News. He also said that he'd been in Japan for 3 weeks covering the earthquake stuff and that I was the happiest person he'd talked to -- mostly because they'd been up north, I guess. I told him I was just happy to be back at a game, to see my friends again and to watch baseball and to help the earthquake and all. It turned out their crew had never actually been to a Japanese baseball game, so we were like "We'll be at the top of section D in the outfield with some other English-speaking friends if you want to come chat with us later!" But they were kinda iffy because it was unclear they'd be able to actually bring their equipment into the park.
And for the record, they must have raised a fortune this weekend -- it was PACKED! I think the whole "get to shake hands with baseball players" thing really motivates people to go give money, certainly.
See how packed it was?
These are two boards that were signed by all the Swallows players, that will be sent up to Tohoku as a "we are supporting you" gesture, I believe.
Then we went into the park, sat down, hung out for a while, because most of the people we know weren't there yet. I went to get lunch and ended up finding the new Pizza-La, but since I hate Pizza-La got some butadon from the place next to it, which was really good.
The new Pizza-La. I suppose this means Pellegrini no longer has to list his home address with them as "Jingu Stadium, Gate 19".
Oh yeah, and I bought an Aoki cellphone strap and shitajiki. I figure that well, he's likely to jump to the MLB next year so it was my last chance, even though I'm not paticularly a fan of his or anything.
After a while, we got a decent group of friends there. This time I actually went down to practice with the ouendan for the new songs but still couldn't get the hang of all of them.
Also I saw this while people were singing:
I guess this is the virtual trumpet in lieu of the real ones...
Yuya Fukui started for the Carp, which was exciting since I saw him play so much with Waseda. Kyohei Muranaka started for the Swallows. The game was kinda just average until basically the 4th inning when the Swallows blew it wide open with Wladimir Balentien hitting a 3-run homer. He also hit another homer later on. So, the Swallows won 6-1 eventually.
It was mostly just fun to be there with friends and cheering and watching baseball!
And here's a bonus video...
This is on Sunday -- the cheer exchange between the Swallows and Carp fans, rather than our usual postgame "we won" kinds of cheering and singing. On Saturday we didn't know it was happening but on Sunday the ouendan leaders explained it to everyone, so I filmed it instead of participating because I'm a dork like that.
First we'd yell "GANBARE GANBARE TOHOKU!" and then the Carp side would yell Ganbare Nippon, then both sides would yell a Nippon cheer together, and then we'd yell Ganbare Carp and they'd yell Ganbare Swallows. It worked out pretty well -- a nice show of solidarity how even though we're two separate baseball cheering groups we're still united in a love for baseball and a desire to help the folks in the north.
It was quite a weekend. It's been quite a trip, really :)