Baseball at the Tokyo Dome: I finally see the Giants play!

 I had been past it several times. Some of my photos in other posts show the bubble peaking over the trees, or hiding in the corner. I had been "kind of" inside once before, when I visited the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame. But until August of last year, I hadn't seen a game at the Tokyo Dome. Why is this so noteworthy? Well, it's probably the most-visited stadium as far as foreigners go. It's certainly the home of the most popular, most wealthy team in Japan - the Yomiuri Giants are the Yankees of Japan, after all. It also might be the closest stadium to my apartment.

But going to places closest to you usually ends up being the least-important thing on your mind. After all, the stadium is so close - you can just go next weekend, right? That turned into next month, and then next year... Well, I finally made it to a game.
 The dome is fairly cool, especially compared to outside. I can only imagine how high the air conditioning bill is in a place like this. It wasn't cold, but I was comfortable. I wasn't able to wander around at the game, due to the location of my ticket and the crowds. The picture above is the view from my seat.
 The right field line. It's a large stadium, as you'd expect for the most popular team in Japan.
 The left field line. Seats down at the field level must be really really expensive. During batting practice, they had had a screen protecting those seats from balls. But they removed it before the game started.
 A nice panorama of the stadium.
  Here's a better view of the infield and backstop area, for those of you into that, in sort of a lazy panorama.

The game itself wasn't outstanding. The Giants lost the game, as their pitcher (Sugano) didn't have his stuff; the Dragons ended up hitting four home runs in the game - two off Sugano. In fact, Sugano had seven earned runs in 2.1 innings of work.

There were more than 44,000 fans in attendance, but the Dragons got on top very early and the Giants never really had a chance. Fans didn't get into the game like they probably would have if the score had stayed close.

Being on the top level, I felt like I was removed from the good stuff in the stadium, and I didn't really get a good feel for food selection, souvenirs, and other amenities at the park. However, the Hall of Fame is outside (I recommend visiting before the game - I don't know about in-and-out privileges, and I don't know why you'd want to spend most of the game in a separate museum). The Giants advertise a team museum which turns out to be just a small display in the basement.
 AKB48, the biggest pop idol girl group in Japan, has an association with the Giants. This display shows some of the girls, autographs, and some Giants equipment.
 The entire team (I assume) has autographed balls in this display.
 Nearby, the numbers retired by the Giants each have plaques detailing the player's accomplishments.
 The Giants have retired six numbers in all...
 Here is Shigeo Nagashima. A real nice commemorative box set was issued for him this year.
And finally, the most famous Japanese player: Sadaharu Oh. Does he belong in the (US) Baseball Hall of Fame?

Most foreign tourists who want to watch baseball in Japan will go to a Giants game. Know that it is very crowded, and tickets can sell out very early, especially for Sunday games. Access is pretty simple, with multiple train stations on multiple lines surrounding the stadium. There's also a baseball-themed restaurant, amusement park, shopping mall, and Koishikawa Korakuen garden nearby, so making an afternoon or full day of the area is certainly possible.

Due to the air conditioning and dome, seeing a game here eliminates possibilities of rain-outs and discomfort due to extreme temperatures (and Tokyo gets really hot and muggy in the summer). But for a slightly more intimate experience, you can also see the Swallows in Tokyo, or head to nearby Yokohama, Saitama, or Chiba for their teams. (Yokohama has a lot of touristy things as well; Saitama and Chiba are a bit out of the way.)


  1. Interesting to see how it sets up for a Giants game rather than the WBC games I went to last March. I thought the view from the upper deck behind home plate was pretty good - much better than comparable seats at many MLB parks.

    They remove the screens in front of the field level boxes ("Excite!" seats) before the game but the backstop screen goes all the way to the corner which makes it difficult to get good pictures when you're sitting in the lower bowl.

    The "basement" appears to be the main food & souvenir mezzanine there.

  2. And I like how they have the retired numbers on pillars in the outfield seats. Not sure how many other teams have the numbers on display - the Lions have their sole retired number (Kazuhisa Inao) on a sign on the roof but I don't know if any other team has done something similar.

    If I'm not mistaken, that's Nagashima on the SECOM ad placed right above his retired number. Nice touch.

  3. I hate the backstop screens in Japanese ballparks. It's one reason why I tend to sit in the outfield or upper deck. A tight wallet is the other.

    Yes, the view was pretty good - I was happy with my seat. But I wish I had sat lower and spent some time wandering the concourse to check out the selection. I probably could have done this anyway, but I think I just didn't get into the game. And yes, the basement does seem to be a major food and souvenir area - at least souvenirs. I didn't look too much but nothing stood out food-wise (I wasn't hungry anyway).

    I'd have to look hard through my photos and do some major memory jogging to check for sure, but I have seen numbers on display at some other stadiums. They might not be in the seating bowl, though, instead similar to the plaques the Giants have on display.