STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The surprising experience of a Tokyo baseball game

Coy Wire visits Tokyo's Jingu Stadium to take in a traditional baseball game in Japan.

Posted: Oct 25, 2019 2:10 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2019 2:10 PM

The World Series is one of sport's hot tickets, but match day at a baseball game in Japan outdoes anything the MLB has to offer.

We're in a sea of chanting fans, all calling the name of 27-year-old Tetsuo Yamada as he steps up to the plate. Every player has their own chant that's shouted during every single inning. The fans know them by heart, sing in unison and generate a cacophony of noise.

On one wet summer evening in Tokyo, we saw Yakult Swallows play local rivals, Yomiuri Giants, at their home ground. They're based at the Meiji Jingu Stadium, which was built in 1926, making it the oldest stadium in the city. It's open air, and despite the rain, the stadium was packed close to its full capacity of about 31,000.

Although baseball was only imported to Japan during the 1870s, it's consistently named the nation's favorite sport, and there's no better place to experience that enthusiasm than at a Swallows home game.

At Meiji Jingu, the home fans sit apart from away supporters, in contrast to the MLB. It means both sides are loud, but welcoming. The most vocal of the home side sit in the "Swallows' Nest," the section of the stadium dedicated to cheering.

READ: Houston Astros fire executive Brandon Taubman over outburst at reporters

We spoke to Ryo Uchida, a Swallows superfan whose dedication to the team has led him to follow them around the country and buy 20 of their jerseys.

"Every American friend I bring here ... it's funny because the game is familiar to them. But this atmosphere is not," he told us.

Even more extraordinary is the celebration when the Swallows score a run. The team anthem, "Tokyo Ondo," is blasted out, and fans dance whilst waving around umbrellas. They also perform their signature move at the seventh innings, which they say is lucky.

The roots of this ritual is contested, according to Christopher Pellegrini, a Swallows fan, and co-founder of the Tokyo Swallows Podcast.

"There's a couple theories of where that came from. One is that back in the day there were no fans here," he said. "And some guy thought, 'Hey, if we open these umbrellas it looks like there's more people here.'

"And then there's another theory that is maybe it's telling the opposing pitcher to hit the showers."

The atmosphere is boosted by cheerleaders, who bring lively dance routines and glittery pom poms. The troupe arrive alongside team mascots -- playful swallows who each have different personalities.

On an interesting side note away from the game, one of the mascots named Tsubakuro made his debut as the lead actor in a TV crime drama this June.

READ: Simone Biles threw out a first pitch during the World Series. Why we're flipping out

The high energy atmosphere might make the Japanese baseball experience unique, but it is the unusual snacks and large quantities of beer on offer that take it to another level.

From takoyaki -- balls of fried batter with octopus -- to ramen, there are plenty of food options to choose from at Meiji Jingu. The Yomiuri Giants' home ground, the Tokyo Dome, prides itself on its bento boxes and donburi, or rice bowls served with meat, fish or vegetables.

As for the libations, saleswomen carrying kegs of beer on their backs walk around the stadiums, are ready to serve up cold pints to spectators.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos

Tokyo is some distance from the World Series, but if you're looking for a fresh twist on the sport, consider visiting a ballgame in Japan's capital. It might just be the best in-game fan experience in the world.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 78°
Columbus
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather