Last summer, Japan was hot. Records were broken, and records probably melted, too. An old iPod Touch I used as an alarm clock actually broke open from the heat melting the glue holding it all together (the battery didn't explode, and the iPod was powered down and not plugged in at the time). This was inside my apartment, mind you.
I was in Sapporo, which is in Japan's northernmost prefecture. It's cooler up there, but that didn't stop things from being quite warm. And as I mentioned a few days ago, a lack of air conditioning in my apartment meant that I was staying up until about 3 AM most nights when it was cool enough to actually go to sleep.
That strange sleep schedule and the extreme heat meant I didn't do a lot of what I would have liked to do. I made it to a few touristy places, and I did spend a lot of time walking around the downtown Sapporo area and Nakajima Park. But I didn't take any of my planned day trips or overnight trips, and I didn't get to any baseball games.
I didn't get to any baseball games, but I did end up at Sapporo Dome before a game one day. And like most baseball games here, some of the cheerleaders were performing outside the stadium prior to the game starting. With some time to kill before continuing on with that day's plans, I stuck around and watched a few minutes of the show, where I saw Tomoka:
A bit of searching later through the Fighter's website, I could properly get her name, and found this official autograph through Yahoo Japan Auctions. And that's the story of how Tomoka's card ended up in my collection.
|Photo credit to whoever took this photo. I have no idea.|
Sapporo Dome is an interesting ballpark, though actual baseball there is unimpressive. The real draw to me is being able to go up to the observation deck to see out into Sapporo, or get a unique view of the field below. The stadium does have some unique features which allow it to be converted from baseball (artificial turf) to soccer (natural grass), but the baseball experience wasn't that special from the stadium perspective. I did like the proximity to Sapporo proper; the staidum could be accessed after a short walk from a subway station.
I do hope that the new ballpark has a lot of good fan experience areas planned, including restaurants and a museum (Sapporo Dome has a small free exhibit area that includes baseball, soccer, and entertainment artifacts). And I really hope the transportation situation is better; traveling further by train means there should be less walking, and they'll have to take frequency/capacity into consideration as well.
Details on the stadium are here including some artist renderings.