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Well, it was a while ago.  Two weeks ago, to be exact. ^o^;

I go to a Japanese class every week.  It’s not terribly serious; it’s taught by volunteers and only costs 1000 yen (about 10 USD) a month.  Every third Wednesday though, the volunteer center it’s held at is closed, so we go elsewhere and do stuff.  We’ve done stuff like go to a pottery place to make our own chawan and hashioki (tea/rice bowl and chopstick rests), go to a restaurant to learn the correct, “beautiful” way of eating, etc.  The last event was to a SoftBank Hawks game.  This time, like the first game I’d gone to, was against the Rakuten Eagles.  Unlike that time, fortunately, the Hawks won! A royal 16-4 butt-kicking.  The crowd really moriagatta’ed (盛り上がる, “moriagaru,” in this case means to swell/surge with enthusiasm.)

There were several home runs this time.  When there’s a homer, an inflated Harry the Hawk (one of the team’s mascots) holding a Coca-Cola bottle would pop up in front of one of the big screens.

I feel more awake just looking at that!

Weeee!

So, since this was a winning game, there were a few different things.  During the 7th inning stretch, since the Hawks were in the lead, most people bought long balloons.  You inflate the balloon, but don’t tie it closed.  When the time comes, everyone sings a song, and lets go of the balloons at the end of it.  Now, I could’ve sworn people in Rakuten’s cheering section did the same thing, so I guess it’s just that this only gets done if the home team is winning but the visitors still get to let go of their balloons.

In the picture at right, you can also see a poster with Otou-san, the mascot of the team sponsor SoftBank.  He’s saying, 「今年はやらんといかんばい!」(“kotoshi wa yaran to ikan bai!”) which is Hakata dialect for “This year we HAVE to win! [lit., “do it”]” In Hakata dialect, the negative is formed by using the negative stem + ん、so, for example, わからない becomes わからん, 知らない becomes 知らん, etc. (Those are the examples that came to mind because it’s what I hear my students say most in Hakata dialect. ^_^;) The ばい seems to be a sentence final particle like the よ used for emphasis.

The other different thing is that winning games are celebrated with fireworks.  This day, it was raining, so they had to do it with the dome closed.  It was still nice.  After that, there was the singing of what I could only assume was the Hawks anthem.  It’s got flowery language, no surprise, but it sounds a bit militaristic, so…it’s kind of funny actually, especially to see a bunch of people singing it so seriously.  I looked it up later, and found that the title is 「いざゆけ若鷹軍団」, “Izayuke Wakataka Gundan,” which translates roughly to “Now Go, Young Hawks Corps!” ^_^’  You can hear the song here and read the lyrics  here. (Japanese only–I don’t have time right now to see if the one English translation I found is accurate, it seems good but I only glanced at it.) EDIT: Here’s a disco version! >o<

Mm, I think that’s pretty much it.  Well, I’ve ended up actually really liking doing the ouen (cheering). ^o^  I can’t tell what everyone’s saying all the time, since each player has their own special cheer, but when it’s the simple “ganbare, [player’s name]!” I can join in, or at least, since I can read the players’ names up on the screen, I can go “… … … … … [player’s name]!!!” I think that even if I were invited to go to “better” seats, i.e., behind home plate, I’d still want to sit in the cheap seats because that’s the cheering section!

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