Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Going overboard

This weekend I went to a baseball game between the Hanshin Tigers and the Yakult Swallows. We were sitting in the middle of the Tigers fans section, which sort of made us hanshin fans by default, because as anyone knows, when you're a neutral person surrounded by intimidating screaming fans wearing team uniforms and face paint, you definitely do not want to evoke their wrath. Especially when they are sitting behind you and have had many beers.

Anyways, this game was a revenge match, because apparently the Swallows and the Tigers had just had a game last night, and the tigers lost. This was an unforgivable instult to the fans, since the Tigers are from Osaka... about 6 hours away by car.

Let me tell you something about the Tigers. They are the second best team in Japan (first is the Tokyo giants). This season, however, the Tokyo giants suck, which is the source of no small amount of glee. You see, Osaka in general has a certain resentment towards Tokyo. In size, in population, in business, in sports, in *anything*, it is a huge city. It is *almost* the biggest city. But it always has (and probably always will) come in second to Tokyo. Perpetual second place has gotta hurt. Add to the fact that Tokyo's version of Japanese is standard, and they like to make fun of the 'cute accent' of Osaka. Hm, I can see the flames of frustration burn from here! ^^

The Yakult Swallows are from Aomori, Tokyo. We watched the game in their home stadium. They are not the best team from Tokyo, but they're quite good. They have a pretty big fan base. But their fans, who came from around town, were outnumbered and drowned out by the raving, bloodthirsty Tiger fans, most of whom had come from Osaka to be there! As I mentioned, I was sitting in front of some very intense Tigers fans. I mean, they were so crazy even other tiger fans in the rows in front were turning around giving them looks like 'what the hell?'. Throughout the game they were standing up the whole time and rhythmically whapping bat-shaped noisemakers together, to the beat of a sort of 'cheerleading conductor'. This guy was wearing an official yellow uniform and white gloves (white gloves? He's GOT to be official!), standing on a ladder to be better seen by everyone. He was even wearing a badge. Every batter had his own song that the fans magically knew and would sing in chorus to the conductor. It was amazing, I have never seen so much prescision from 10,000 drunk people.

Back to the rowdy guys behind me. They were standing up nearly the entire game. Now, I stood up every now and then when my legs were stiff, so a friend I was with mistook this for enthusiasm and handed me some baseball-bat shaped noisemakers to whap in rhythm. "heh heh, sure, I'll give it a try... " I didn't know any of the words, but the beat was quite easy. Most of the time it was something like 'whap-whap-whap. whap-whap-whap. whap-whap-whap-whap-whap-whap-whap.' (repeat endlessly or until arms are no longer responding). Unfortunately this proved to be a mistake, because crazy fans (now dibbed CF for simplicity) took this as a sign that this FOREIGN girl liked the Tigers TOO!

Anyways, since arms getting tired happened around the fourth inning in a nine inning game, I sat back down to rest. Man, when they saw me, they lived out every bad stereotype of japanese 'english'. I was with about ten japanese people at the game, and all of them spoke english fluently. But CF were insistant: "Pureezu! eeto... shit down!" they said, encouraging me to stand. Talk about your mixed signals. ’もう、日本語でいいよ!’I said, trying to get them to talk in Japanese. But they were quite drunk and happy to get ANY sort of response. Ahh well.

Luckily, the Tigers won 3-1. One of the people in our group was from London, he was quite amused by the CF and encouraged them racously by booing loudly with them and teaching them the 'L for losers' hand signal, along with 'LOOOOSERS, LOOSERS'! Takeshi smirked and translated. I learned a new word today, apparently loser is 'make-inu' in Japanese (mahke means lose, inu means dog). Hehe. It was fun, but I had to get out of there, my head was hurting from the constant screaming and also from being hit on the head a few times by the overenthusiastic CF who tended to miss the other noisemakers. Suddenly I was quite glad I hadn't had any beers. I mean, think about the hangover those poor fans must have had, and add to that a six hour drive back in the morning.

Well, they won, so it was probably worth it.


Blogger The GraveDigger said...

This is one of my favorite blog posts in the world. I love reading your crazy japan stories!

11:50 AM  
Blogger Kyra said...

thanks mars!! ^_^

3:23 AM  

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