Take me out to the ball game…
Now it’s a pretty well known fact that, while once America’s national pastime, nowadays, baseball is much more popular in Japan. So when I went to my first Japanese college baseball game this weekend, I was expecting the crowd’s energy to be similar to that at a football game back home. What I got instead was one of the biggest culture shocks since I’ve been here. Let me explain.
First of all I was sitting with the students where all the cheering was going on. This was my school, Keio’s, rivalry with Waseda. These are two of the oldest private schools in Japan. It’s a huge rivalry, think UCLA and USC only everyone is Japanese. Alumni flocked to the stadium; students had bad been getting pumped for the game for weeks. See, I find baseball for lack of a better word slow, and the only real reason I went to hopefully be caught up in the excitement of the crowds. But this cheering wasn’t like anything I’d experienced.
Back at home, there are people constantly cheering, sure, but its usually a pretty small group of hardcore fans. Also the cheering is dictated by the game, when your team scores that’s when people will stand up and scream cheers for their team. The whole thing feels impulsive and anarchic: everyone is just doing there own thing to support their team.
Not so in Japan. When our team was batting, every student was standing, and singing the same three songs over and over again. I mean over and over again. Singing the same song, clapping the same claps, cheering the same cheer. And remember, this is that-game-with-no-time-limits baseball we’re talking about, so there was an inning where we stood for half an hour doing the same thing over and over again and again. And the very second we got a third out, that very second, all the music stops, everyone sits, and the other team starts doing the same thing.
So organized. So conformist. And then the end of the game. You’d expect cheering when your team wins (which ours did, wooo!), but no, people just get dead silent, the winning team calmly shakes the hand of the other team, and the fans sing a very slow, boring school song. And when we finished the other team did the same thing, and our school, the winning team, stood there for 10 minutes listening them sing their song. I understand that in Japan you aren’t supposed to show emotion, but this just all seemed so extreme to me.
This is a trend I’m noticing in Japan: everything is planned. While I’m sure it leads to a more tranquil society, it goes against my own very spontaneous nature. So I guess me and Japan have nine more months to battle it out. Ready, fight!
Legend of Zelda is property of Nintendo Inc.
Writer: Nick Adams Cohen
Artist: Shaina Lu
Website: Benson Khau.