The rules might be the same, but the experience is totally different. Turns out Japanese baseball games are more spirited than those in the states. We saw the Yakult Swallows play the Hanshin Tigers (who are notorious for their rabid fans). The first sign that this is going to be a different experience is that each team shows up with a band to encourage their fans to cheer the team on.
And cheer they do. They have a different song for each player that comes up to bat along with some kind of catchy rhythm that they rap out by tapping little plastic baseball bats together. This may not be the Yankees, but even A-Rod doesn’t have half a stadium cheering him on in perfect unison every time he comes up to bat. Speaking of cheering:
Little umbrellas you ask? This had to be the most unexpected part of the event. Each time the Swallows scored a run (out of seemingly nowhere) all the fans opened up tiny plastic umbrellas bobbed them in the air and sang a little victory song. Not only was the spectacle delightful but the umbrellas fold up and pack out of sight so it was also totally unexpected since I hadn’t noticed anybody (let alone everybody) carrying one. >
And of course I can’t forget the food. You can buy beers from girls with kegs on their backs, or beers with frozen foam. Oh and the snacks are a little different than what you’d find at american baseball games too ;).