Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

From Event to Hand, and a new NPB Ballpark

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:
I caught her name when they did a sort of roll-call/introduction thing after the first dance number. She's cute, of course, but I liked her personality; she was really cheerful (wow, a cheerful cheerleader!) and really seemed to enjoy what she was doing. Other performers often just go through the motions, especially for these smaller performances. So she stood out in the group.

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.
Sticking with the Fighters, back in November, the Fighters announced details on building a new ballpark. It will be located in Kitahiroshima, a city on the outskirts of Sapporo, with a retractable roof and big glass wall. The stadium is still about four years away, but if you are interested in seeing a baseball game at Sapporo Dome, I would start figuring that into your plans.

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.


  1. Wow, that is crazy that they are already replacing the Sapporo Dome, it only opened in 2001 and I still think of it as "new".

    That new stadium looks....impressive but nothing at all like what I think a baseball stadium looks like from the outside. I guess that is cool, way better than a Dome anyway. The artist's rendering makes it look like it is in the complete middle of the wilderness, is Kitahiroshima really inaka, or is that just the artist?

    I wish they'd replace the Nagoya Dome too, I can't stand watching games there.

    1. Like every city in Japan, it's full of narrow streets and lots of houses. Kitahiroshima is pretty small though, and there is a lot of green space not far from the station. I really am concerned about transportation, so perhaps they plan to extend one of the subway lines out there.

      And yeah, the Dome is pretty new, and seemed pretty functional to me. Maybe they need a bigger stadium, or they want more amenities (food comes to mind, plus luxury boxes, etc).

      Nagoya Dome is just a giant concrete blob. I've been to a couple games there and never really enjoyed them. I always felt so far away from the action.

  2. Hot enough to break open your iPod? Wowza. I have a hard time sleeping in the heat too. Ended up replacing my air conditioning unit this past year. Best investment I've ever made.

    1. If only I could do something like that in Sapporo. The A/C units in my apartment and the other apartments I stay in work pretty well, though. It's just the Sapporo apartments that don't have air conditioning units.