Baseball in Japan: Hiroshima Carp

It was a cloudy afternoon when I arrived at the home of the Hiroshima Carp, after a very beautiful morning at Peace Park
 The Carp (official name: Hiroshima Toyo Carp) play in Mazda Stadium, which opened in 2009; it is the newest ballpark to open in Japan.
 It's possibly the nicest ballpark in Japan, and it's certainly the most similar to US ballparks. It has an asymetrical playing surface, great views, and a relatively intimate feel.
 It's located a short walk from Hiroshima Station and sits right next to the tracks. You can see a few buildings and the surrounding mountains from behind homeplate as a nice backdrop in the outfield.
 The upper level seats are a bit further back from the action. The park has a satellite upper level section in right field.
Possibly due to home fan seating preferences, sunlight, and the location right next to the tracks, the second level extends further down the right field line (nearly to the foul pole) than the left (just to about third base).
 A nice view from left field.
 I sat in the upper level. I'm not exactly sure how seating worked up here. It seemed to be generally unreserved, though seating closer to the field was certainly reserved, and each section had its own separate ticket. I don't recall anyone checking my ticket up here. I could see all the action from my seat a couple rows up.
 The game was pretty exciting. Fans buy noisemakers and do cheers the entire time their team is batting, and sometimes when their pitcher or defense is struggling. Japanese fans don't boo or show disrespect in any way. Because Japan is so small and teams only have small geographical ties (and instead have sponsorship ties), there are plenty of fans in any town for each team. When the visiting team is at bat, their cheering section does their own cheers.
 Let's sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame! Wait, no. In the middle of the seventh inning, the home team's fans sing the team fight song and then release the balloons you see so all the air comes out.
You can make your own dirty references here. It's pretty cool to see thousands of balloons flying through the air.
Then, the balloons all rain back down to earth, where they'll be picked up and thrown away. It's not exactly environmentally friendly, but it's lots of fun.

The Carp game was the first I had ever seen, and I was really impressed. The fans were completely into the game the whole time, and I really enjoyed the stadium and its atmosphere.

As for food, there are several stands located in the stadium and the offerings are generally similar to those found at convenience stores - some fried food, yakitori, etc. Since it was a pretty warm day, the shaved ice table/stand was quite popular, and even I really enjoyed some frozen water covered in sugary syrup. But a lot of people will bring their own bentos or buy them from vendors between the station and the stadium, and even bring their own drinks including alcohol. The security staff will provide you with cups to pour your booze into since cans and glass aren't allowed.

So far, Mazda Stadium remains my favorite ballpark and the Carp my favorite team. Unfortunately, they're too far away to visit regularly!


  1. Through the wonders of cable channels with airtime to fill, I've seen a couple of Carp games on TV here in the States. Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium does look pretty cool. The last game I saw, they showed a cardio area in the right field stands where you can walk a treadmill or use other workout equipment while watching the game.

    Did you see any interesting gaijin players?

  2. I don't think I explored far enough into the right field stands to see that (though I did circle the stadium). If I get back to Hiroshima I'll have to check on that!

    I've seen a few gaijins at games. I liked the relief pitcher at this game, maybe Bryan Bullington? Wily Mo Pena had a decent first year with the Hawks (batting .280). Alex Cabrera appears to be gone unless he signed with another team and I didn't notice it. Alex Ramirez for the BayStars is a fan favorite and is 7 hits away from 2000 and a good season (22) away from 400 home runs. I didn't see everyone play this year, which I should fix next year.