In an exhausted daze, we piled onto the bus after what had been a successful concert in Kanazawa. When everyone was seated, our on-staff Min-On representative, Mr. Yokomatsu, stood up, poised to make a speech. As Naoko-san swiftly translated sections of his message, we began to understand that we were about to be given a gift. Last year, around the same point in the trip, Min-On and founder Dr. Ikeda presented us with an award for our efforts: a day in Tokyo Disneyland. We could only imagine what our surprise would be this year, and sat on the edge of our seats, trying to pick out words and phrases in Mr. Yokomatsu’s speech before they could be translated.
After what seemed like an eternity of formalities, Mr. Yokomatsu made the big reveal: in three days we would be attending a Tokyo Giants baseball game! I make no exaggeration when I say that every chorister practically shot out of their seat in excitement, clapping and shouting. Everyone expressed an earnestly appreciative “arigato gozaimasu” to Mr. Yokomatsu before he took his seat.
Three days later, after a day of intensive traveling consisting of two buses and a plane, we arrived at the Tokyo Dome Hotel with twenty minutes to change for the game. Tired but excited, we rushed back down to the lobby and headed toward the Dome—which if you haven’t gathered already, is on the hotel grounds!
The Tokyo Dome is massive, and looking out at the Stadium from our seats in particular (which were great, by the way) was pretty awe-inspiring. Thousands of people, dressed up in orange to support their home team, eagerly awaited the game.
As the first inning began, we became aware that rooting for your team at a game in Japan is a little different than in America. The Japanese show support for their players through all-out, individual choreographed cheers for each player. We made a game out of trying to learn the chants and accompanying motions, and were once again reminded of the Japanese fondness for precision.
Throughout the game, lively groups of spectators were projected up onto the scoreboard screen. I had a feeling that it was only a matter of time before our diverse group of Americans were spotted and chosen. Sure enough, halfway through the game, we made it up there, dancing and cheering. Corny as it may seem, I felt a sense of pride watching our happy faces pan across the screen.