Baseball in Japan: Saitama Seibu Lions

Living in the Tokyo area, I have my pick of several teams to visit for games. The Giants and Swallows play downtown; the BayStars are in Yokohama, a little southwest of Tokyo; the Marines are in Chiba, a little east of Tokyo; to the northwest are the Lions. Despite being in the same prefecture (similar to county) as me, Saitama's stadium (the Seibu Dome) is about an hour and a half train ride in nearly a straight line. On game days, an express train runs from Ikebukuro directly to the stadium with just a couple stops, and game attendees from Tokyo should consider that route.
 I arrived right about game time, so I didn't have much time to look around outside the stadium. The Dome isn't enclosed like other domed stadiums I've been to.
 If you look closely, you can see the ring of light between the seating bowl and dome roof. This is an outdoor stadium with a dome covering. This means the dome serves the purpose of protecting against heavy rain storms and harsh sun, but allows the stadium to get fresh air. It also means that there's no air conditioning or heating when the weather is extreme. I was thankful for the dome covering on my visit, as it was raining that day.
 There's a single seating bowl here, with a press box area behind the plate. I believe the only entrance to the stadium is from the train station side (directly behind center field), so everybody has access to the outfield.
 The closer you get to home plate, the more restricted the area gets. To get from the outfield to infield section you must show your ticket. If you want access to the entire field, you'll need a ticket behind the plate (good luck - those are only for season ticket holders). Walking along the concourse just behind the seats gives a great view, though.
 There isn't much at the stadium as far as food options go. It's important to get here a little early and browse all the offerings between the station and the dome, as most people do. Also, you can buy your souvenirs outside the stadium. There are some offerings inside the stadium but these are quite limited and pretty standard.
 The fans were into the game pretty well, and when the Lions score a run the fans wave towels in the air. Also, I saw a return to the seventh innning balloons! This boy has quite a large one.
 There were a lot of balloons, but nowhere near as many as I saw at the Carp game.

If you want to visit all 12 stadiums, you will need to go to a Lions game. While the stadium is in the Tokyo area, it does take a long time to get there, and unlike every other stadium I know about in Japan, there is almost nothing to do in the area. There's a small amusement park nearby that might be fun for children. Otherwise, this is a long evening of just Seibu trains and baseball.
While the stadium isn't terribly special, I enjoyed the game. I saw plenty of the Lions cheerleading girls walking around the infield portion of the stadium encouraging the fans to cheer along, something I didn't see at other parks (though this is the first time I've sat in the infield area in the main concourse bowl). The tickets are fairly inexpensive - but the round trip train ride adds to the cost. I hope to return next season for another look, though.

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