Baseball has always been a fun sport to watch and/or follow and is fun for people of all ages. We recently caught our first Japanese-style baseball game in Fukuoka, Japan. One of Japan’s professional baseball teams, the SoftBank Hawks, played the DeNa Bay Stars from Yokohama. The set up was very similar to a baseball game that can be seen in America with fans cheering throughout the game, wearing supportive jerseys and t-shirts, while drinking beer and banging noisy trinkets. But there are some differences that make Japanese-style baseball unique from anywhere else. First, there is no traditional playing of the national anthem in the beginning. Second, the stadium food does not consist of hot dogs and nachos, but of fried noodles, mini hamburgers, grilled chicken, beef, and squid on a stick, caramel popcorn, and lettuce in a cup. Third, there were dances by the Hawk family (mascots) and Honeys (cheerleaders) that added excitement to the crowd. Fourth, fan cheering sections. In America, yes, spectators will cheer or shout, but in Japan, there is constant singing and cheering. There is a specific fan cheering section for each team where a band group is gathered, playing songs and singing throughout the game. Fifth, after the top of the 7th inning, the crowd sings the Hawk’s team song to show their pride and give the home team extra strength to win and then releases thousands of yellow balloons together. You can also enjoy the victory fireworks display if the Hawks win, as well as the release of white balloons after the 9th inning, in celebration. Unfortunately, the Hawks lost this game 2-5. Nevertheless, it was another unique experience.
Fukuoka Yafuoku! Domu (Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome):
The Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome is a baseball field, located in Fukuoka, Japan’s island of Kyushu. Built in 1993, the stadium was originally named Fukuoka Dome and can accommodate 38,561spectators. It was Japan’s first stadium with a retractable roof. Yafuoku means “Yahoo! Auctions” in Japan. This dome is the home stadium of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and is part of the Hawks Town entertainment complex, which contains a mall, restaurants, hotel, and shops. It is located near the popular Momochi Beach.
In 2006, the stadium received an upgrade to its mono-color main scoreboard “Hawks Vision.” Measuring at 32.76 ft. high and 173.86 ft. wide, it was one of the largest high-definition electronic scoreboards at the time, equivalent to a 2,123-inch wide-screen display! In 2010, with further addition of two 120.65 ft. x 108.27 ft. displays, the stadium boasted the largest total viewing area of HD display in all baseball stadiums.
TEAM: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
One of the 12 Nippon Professional Baseball teams and the only team of the Kyushu area. Based in Fukuoka, its home ground is the Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome. Consisting of two leagues with 6 teams each, the Hawks is a member of the Pacific League. A 17-time league champion, they have also won 5 times at the Nippon Series.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!