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Seeing The Entire League?

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Seeing The Entire League?

I am a huge baseball fan, and I have recently finished visiting all the MLB stadiums over several years of vacation weeks. As I only have the new Target Field to see next year, I thought it would be an adventure to try and see all twelve Japanese teams in one trip. I'm used to seeing a game a day in a different city, and travel times in Japan would be much shorter than what I had to deal with on the West Coast, for example.

I've read all the resources about going to games on the site, but I guess my question is, is this even possible, especially with someone who will definitely not speak the language? Outside of there regularly being no games on Mondays, I haven't investigated the schedules all that much yet. Is the travel and scheduling a possibility?

I thank you for your help in advance.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Nov 10, 2009 11:32 PM | YBS Fan ]

There have been a number of people who have posted their Japan baseball tours in the past, so it most definitely can be done.

The biggest factor will be weather. Those who have come up short in the past had made a strict schedule before departing, but one rain out knocked one stadium out of the tour. (They made up that stadium on a later trip to Japan to get that feeling of closure.) So I would advise creating your schedule will room to make up a game or two.

Otherwise, please come back and link to your tour journal, or post the journal here (so it doesn't disappear like some of them -- Timmerman-san's -- have).
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: oogieball | Posted: Nov 11, 2009 12:20 PM ]

Thank you for the link. I'm sure it has been done in the past, but as someone who doesn't speak the language, I'm sure there will be an added degree of difficulty. I appreciate the advice about flexibility, but I find a certain amount of spirituality in the process. I went to a game at every MLB stadium and haven't been rained out yet. I leave it to the fates. =)

Are there any other examples beside Mr. Timmerman? It seems his material is offline, and I'd love to benefit from the experience of those that have gone before me.

If you are interested, you can see my Flickr groups for all the MLB stadiums here. I have a link to my travelogue blog in each city. I expect I'd do something very similar if I went to Japan and would be happy to post links here.

As a side note, as someone a little fanatical about keeping score, do the teams sell official scorecards as American stadiums do? I've done a little searching on the Web and have been unable to find many examples.

Thank you again for the assistance.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Nov 13, 2009 8:14 PM | NIP Fan ]

Well, there's me -- I've been to over 25 stadiums in the country, and back in 2006 before I lived here I did a 16-day 11-game 9-stadium tour of the country, skipping only Kyushu and Hokkaido due to logistics and the Tokyo Dome due to having been there before and hating the Giants.

(I guess my travelogue as it were is still around under the Japan Trip tag on my normal Japanese baseball blog.)

As for scorecards, I've kept score at almost every game I've been to in Japan, which is now several hundred of them, and I can tell you I have never seen official scorecards as you are probably thinking of them. However, some teams do have "game day programs", usually produced for a 3-game series, that have a scorecard in the middle. Unfortunately, I can't really tell you which ones, as I haven't bought them in ages. The one thing is, Japanese scorecards look somewhat different from American scorecards. I ended up importing scorebooks because I'm too set in my ways to change, even though I actually like some aspects of the Japanese scoring system. My Japanese friends who also keep score always make fun of me for my weird scorebook, and vice versa.

And... how dead-set are you on doing the trip yourself? And how cheap are you?

You could always pay a lot of money and go on the Japanball tour, which has been taking people on a trip of all the active stadiums in Japan for several years now. They'll arrange everything and do all the Japanese speaking for you, so it isn't an issue.

I'm cheap, so when I came here, I managed to do flight plus hotels plus baseball tickets plus rail travel for less money than Japanball was charging for 6 games and 7 days without airfare. But I could read/speak Japanese. I know Bob Timmerman did his tour without speaking Japanese though -- a lot of the stuff like hotels and rail passes, you can do in all English. What might be tough is dealing with getting baseball tickets, as well as getting to the stadiums themselves in some cases. The Hokkaido leg might also be a bit difficult... but mostly depending on how cheap you are.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: oogieball | Posted: Nov 14, 2009 2:37 PM ]

Thank you for your reply.

If I could ask, what are the particular logistics problems with Kyushu and Hokkaido? Was it just for your particular trip, or is it getting there at all?

As part of my American tour, I used the home scorecard and scoring method at each stadium. I'd be very interested to do so in Japan as well. I'm utterly fascinated by different scoring systems, though I obviously have my own (which is clearly better than everyone else's.)

I'm not necessarily dead-set on doing it myself, and as far as cost goes, I've already spent an insane amount of money on my American trips to begin with, and I've gotten used to traveling all day, getting to a game, crashing at a hotel, and then traveling all day to the next game, and so on.

That's very interesting that there exists a commercial tour that will go to all the stadiums. I see that it doesn't include airfare, so that may be too expensive for even myself, especially given that they only seem to have tours available in September, which isn't a good time for me to go in my work. I generally go late in June/early in July.

I am less concerned about the travel then hotels and tickets, which seem to be the biggest sticking points. Not knowing anything about them, I'm concerned about knowing what a good deal in a good part of town might be. Getting from A to B tends to work itself out, especially with Japan's transportation infrastructure. And getting all the game schedules sorted out is always a problem.

Oh, and I see you know the woman who writes Metsgrrl. It is a small world. I found her blog a little while ago through a Flickr group on baseball scorekeeping. I've been reading it ever since.

Thank you again for your help.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Nov 17, 2009 11:36 PM | NIP Fan ]

So the thing with Hokkaido is that it pretty much mostly requires a flight (you can take the train there, but for a whirlwind tour of the country it's not the most efficient thing to do, though maybe if the rail pass allows it, it might not be a bad idea). Before I lived here, I had no real clue how to book flights within Japan (and when I'd look on websites like Expedia/etc in English, the flights were pretty expensive). I've been to Hokkaido several times since moving here, and each time I've gone to a travel agent in person and booked a flight/hotel package and paid in cash! I'm betting I'm just an idiot about this stuff though -- so hopefully someone else can chime in about it.

But at the time, I basically had no clue how to do Hokkaido and I was happy enough to just go all over to the other places (plus I had a friend traveling with me for part of the time and we were doing some non-baseball touristy stuff, too). Fukuoka, I think the scheduling just didn't work out, actually -- it's not hard to get there at all, it's just a bit far.

When I did my trip, as for hotels, I basically stayed in two places - I was based out of Tokyo for half the trip and out of Osaka for the other half of the trip. Hiroshima is only like two hours from Osaka by shinkansen, and to be fair, Fukuoka is only 3 hours. Sendai is an hour and a half north of Tokyo (this year I actually had a weekend where I went to two Fighters-Eagles games in Sendai and bought a Saturday-Sunday rail pass and just took the shinkansen back and forth rather than spending money on a hotel).

Good/bad parts of town is hard to say exactly, but you could probably do okay staying at Toyoko Inns, they're all over the country and relatively cheap and have online booking. I've had good luck with Hotel Sunroute, too. They usually run between 5,000-6,000 yen per night just about anywhere.

Tickets - yeah. June/July shouldn't be that hard a time for tickets, especially if you come here after inter-league ends, and try to do it so that you go to Koshien and the Tokyo Dome during the week rather than weekends. Hiroshima might also still be selling out weekends, especially Sundays. It's also possible to get tickets from ticket resellers, though not speaking Japanese might make that kinda tough. Another idea is to head to a convenience store or Playguide as soon as you get to the country and buy the iffy tickets ASAP.

And yeah, the JapanBall tour is pretty expensive IMO. But it is an option, just wanted to make sure you knew about it.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Oogieball | Posted: Nov 18, 2009 1:36 PM ]

Well, you're talking to someone who went to a game in San Francisco one night and then drove to LA for a game the next day (~7.5 hours), so a four hour train ride from Tokyo to Hokkaido (if my preliminary information is close to being right) is not phasing me. I'd rather keep it on the ground than fly, all things being equal, so I do appreciate your input.

More often than not, my MO is to travel to the game, stay overnight in the city where the game is, and then travel to the next game. Is there any benefit to basing yourself in one city in Japan as you did as opposed to my regular method? I know, for the most part, that the stadiums are a lot more geographically closer than in the U.S.

I don't plan on doing any touristy stuff beyond going to the Japan Hall of Fame. (My mantra has always been I'm on the trip to see baseball. Everything else is secondary.) Although I often met up with friends in the MLB cities who went with me to games, I think that is probably unlikely in a country where I don't know a soul. (And I've found that meeting the people I'm sitting with at the games is half the fun.) It appears I will have Mondays to myself, so I may work something in there.

That is much cheaper for hotels than I was expecting. I'm not above roughing it a little, but I don't want to end up in the Tokyo equivalent of Queens because I don't know boo about the area.

I like to have the tickets in hand before I leave, because I'd hate to go all that way and not be able to get a ticket. As I understand it, there are some relatively easy ways to get tickets ahead of time on the Internet.

Frankly, I am going to do some planning during Christmas week when I get back from Cooperstown, and if what I come up with is significantly less than the JapanBall trip, I'll do it on my own. If it is close or more expensive on my own, I'll probably go with them.

Thank you again for your assistance. It is very much appreciated.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Nov 19, 2009 12:33 AM | NIP Fan ]

Four hours to Sapporo by train?! Yeah, when they finish the Hokkaido Shinkansen in 15 years or so! Tokyo to Sapporo by train is more like 12-17 hours depending on whether you take expresses and overnight trains and so on. There's a shinkansen to Hachinohe in Aomori and then another train to bridge from Aomori to Hakodate, and then several more hours on a train from Hakodate to Sapporo. It's possible that maybe the train from the very upper tip of Honshu to the very bottom part of Hokkaido is 4 hours, but it's going to take you several hours on either end to get to that bridge!

Seriously, traveling to Hokkaido by train will take you at least a travel day each way.

The benefit to basing myself in one city back then was simply that it was a lot easier for me to only make reservations at two places than at a whole ton of places -- and I didn't have to carry all my stuff all over the place. When I barnstormed around Kyushu and Shikoku watching indie baseball this summer on the Seishun 18 pass, staying in 7 places in 10 days, my back started to ache from carrying my stuff. Even if you're normally a light traveler, remember that you'll be probably picking up some souvenirs along the way, as well as probably taking quite a bit of stuff with you for a 3-week trip in a foreign country.

And yeah, if you want to pay a ticket broker over the net a lot of money (which are the only ways I've seen -- various guys here who run services where you pay them to go get you tickets), then sure, it's easy. But really, 95% of the time it's entirely unnecessary.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Oogieball | Posted: Nov 19, 2009 2:17 PM ]

Ah, upon closer scrutiny, the quick look I did at Google maps includes a plane as part of the four hour trip. So that explains that. And depending on if it is a Monday, I may have that day. So we'll see. But thank you for the clarification. I've just started to do the most preliminary of research of travel.

Well, I'm used to a different city a day and I travel very, very light, so I don't think that may be as much of an issue. I don't see this taking more than two weeks (with weekends), either, so it may be less of an issue. I'll likely only have one bag, even with the inevitable souvenirs.

It is probably unnecessary to buy the tickets ahead of time, but it is one less thing to worry about. If the prices turn out to be extremely outrageous, I'll probably take my chances, but if they are in any way reasonable, we'll see.

Thank you again for your help.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Nov 11, 2009 1:49 PM | HAN Fan ]

When you get done with Japan's NPB (Central and Pacific) try the Korean Baseball Organization which has 8 teams!
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: oogieball | Posted: Nov 13, 2009 8:00 AM ]

I am considering other leagues as well. As Japan is the most established after MLB, I am going to try it first. The other international leagues are possibilities, though I was disappointed at the facilities in most of the European leagues. The Asian teams seem to have much better dedicated facilities, no doubt due to the higher popularity with the populous.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Nov 15, 2009 5:41 PM ]

A good investment would obviously be the Japan Rail Pass, which you can buy for 1 to 3 weeks. Even if you get the 3-week pass, it was about 57,000 yen in the past, which is easily worth it. With the Shinkansen, it would be very easy to travel from city to city. The Shinkansen doesn't go to Hokkaido, but you can take other trains all the way using the rail pass. Obviously this takes more time, but it would save you from having to pay for a flight as well.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: oogieball | Posted: Nov 16, 2009 12:00 AM ]

Thank you for your reply.

I knew the rail network was very good in Japan and I expected to use it extensively. I wasn't aware of those rail passes yet, but that seems like exactly what I am looking for. As I mentioned, I am used to some pretty extreme daily travel on my trips, so even if the rail travel won't be on the high-speed trains, it is probably a little less than my daily limit due to the smaller distances involved in Japan proper.

I realize that I am a bit of a babe in the woods here, but I assume the site is the place I should be looking at?

Thanks again to you and everyone.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Nov 16, 2009 8:38 AM ]

With the rail pass, the important thing to remember is it must be purchased before you arrive in Japan. Check a Japanese travel agent such as JTB and you should be able to find the information. They will give you a kind of voucher, which you turn in at a major station in Japan to initiate your rail pass.
Re: Seeing The Entire League?
[ Author: Oogieball | Posted: Nov 17, 2009 12:22 PM ]

Thank you for the tip. I'll be sure to keep that in mind.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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