Baseball in Japan: Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

 Welcome to the Yahoo! Dome, home of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. The stadium is about a 5-10 minute walk from the closest station, and the walk includes traveling through a small shopping center. There is a Hawks team store inside the shopping center, and just beyond that is this overpass which leads to the stadium. This might be the best place to take a picture of the stadium from outside, though a nice shot is also available from the stairs next to the road (to the right of the overpass).
 Several of Japan's baseball stadiums are inside domes. Even in the middle of the day, it feels like you're at a night game. The stadium was packed and loud, though!
 The cheering sections are always in the outfield. I sat in center field under that scoreboard, pretty close to the green tarp.
 But first, I made my trip around the stadium to take photos. One thing I really didn't like was the ushers. Usually ushers allow me to stand in the back briefly to take photos from behind home plate, but the ushers throughout the infield absolutely prohibited entrance unless people had tickets for the area.
 Here's the view from my seat.
 Remember my trip to the Hiroshima Carp game? The Hawks also use these strangely shaped balloons. During the seventh inning, all the fans begin inflating these balloons but not tying them off.
 Then, during the seventh inning stretch, everyone raises them in the air...
 They sing the team fight song and jab their balloons towards the air.
And when the song is over, everyone's balloons go flying! I was better-prepared this time, having witnessed it just a week earlier. But I didn't participate. I can't see spending 300 yen (or more) on a pair of balloons that will be used for only a few minutes and then thrown away. It seems so wasteful and bad for the environment - I doubt they get recycled properly.

It's still really cool to watch.

The Hawks have been playing in Fukuoka since 1988, and have been owned by Softbank since 2005. Fukuoka Dome (Fukuoka Yahoo! JAPAN Dome) was built in 1993, and has a retractable roof. It was a nice day when I was there, so I'm not sure why it wasn't opened.

To get to the stadium and Hawks Town (the shopping mall and hotel complex) get off the subway at Tojinmachi Station and use exit 3, making a right turn to follow the river/aquaduct. Make a left turn at the major intersection to cross over the river, and the complex will be on the right. You can either enter the mall and head to the second floor where the Hawks store and narrow pedestrian bridge to the stadium is, or follow the road to the stadium (behind the mall) and walk up the stairs - either way, you shouldn't have trouble finding it. Tickets to Sunday games should be bought in advance (I suggest asking in a Lawson convenience store for some help using the ticket machines) but otherwise you should be able to walk up and get tickets on game day.

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