We aren't a particularly sporty couple, generally what we know about sportsball is that "the thing about Arsenal is, they always try and walk it in".
Japan considers baseball to be it's most popular national sport, even more popular than traditional sports like sumo wrestling. When we were in Hiroshima, we saw posters advertising the Hiroshima Carps everywhere, and even special manhole covers!
Unfortunately the baseball season was pretty much over and so we couldn't catch a game in Hiroshima (even if we had the time); but then we learned that the first Asia Professional Baseball Championship was taking place while we were in Tokyo and we decided to get tickets for the Japan vs South Korea game.
In Japan, you can buy tickets for a huge number of sporting events or concerts at special ticket terminals which can be found in corner shops.
Our attempt at this was a barrel of laughs; we stood in a Lawsons corner shop for ages trying to find and buy the tickets on their ticket terminal. The trouble was that, of course, everything was in Japanese and we had no idea what we wanted to buy. There were so many different venues, and so many different events. We could have asked the shop assistant but Ben was convinced we wouldn't be able to explain what we wanted.
After being defeated we went back to our hotel and I did a lot more Googling and found the site to buy your tickets from Lawson online. This was a lot easier, since we could use Google Translate to translate the page, and so we successfully bought two tickets on the home supporters side. But to actually get the tickets, we would need to collect them from our old nemesis... the Lawson Ticket Terminal!
Off we went again, back to the ticket terminal. Luckily, redeeming a pre-bought ticket was a lot more straightforward!
We'd left DisneySea early and caught the underground trains back into Tokyo towards the Tokyo Dome stadium.
The Tokyo Dome is a massive air filled stadium, with an inflatable roof. The inside is kept at a slightly higher pressure than outside to keep the roof up. If the doors are held open (as they are at the end of the evening) there's a huge funnel of air blowing continously out of the doorways.
There are shops around the outside which we visited and kitted ourselves out as Samurai Japan supporters before we went inside the stadium.
Both teams stood for their national anthems at the beginning.
.. and then the game began!
Both teams had their own set of cheerleaders. We were supporting Japan, so we might be biased, but Japan's were definitely better. They had much catchier music to dance to.
In fact, the fans even made their own music. Somewhere over in the opposite side of the stadium, we were sure there was a group of fans with brass instruments. They were playing a different catchy tune for each individual player when they came up to bat, or when something particular happened in the game. Of course, we had no idea what the words meant, but the tunes got stuck in our head and the whole stadium sang along.
During the game, Ben went to get something to eat from one of the fast food places around the edge of the stands. He said they'd run out of hot dogs, but he came back with what he thought were chicken nuggets.
Surprise! They weren't chicken nuggets. So Ben finally tried Takoyaki (octopus balls) by accident! He didn't like them at all.
The game was really close, we were on tenterhooks for the 7th & 8th innings as both teams got 0 runs. Then in the 10th inning, North Korea scored 3 runs and Japan had to match them to stay in the game.
It was really tense, but when Japan's turn came up, Japan managed to get a 3 runs, and then a home run to win the match!