Japan adopted our national pastime and made it their own. Where else can you see bullet trains going by the stadium? How about different bento lunch boxes being sold under the names and recommendations of the players?
I give you Japanese baseball!
Yesterday I went to Hiroshima to see the Carp take on the Swallows. The Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium (yes, it's really named that) is in the heart of downtown Hiroshima, and a newer stadium. Because it's a newer stadium, it has some interesting seating sections. For instance, the sofa section. This section has seats that resemble those giant cushy gym mats in a sofa reclining position, perfect for couples on a date or a whole family to pile on to.
See the red couches?
There's also a picnic area, with tables that you can reserve. The standard in every Japan stadium is the home and away section. There's a section reserved solely for the opponent's fans, so they can cheer together. Then, there's the home team fan section, which is the die-hard section. For the Carp, it's a sea of red and white people, with huge banner wavers and a band to lead the chants.
The fan section, with band at the bottom left
That is the big difference between American and Japanese baseball: the fans and cheering. The fan section, with the band, lead the entire stadium in cheers. Every time a player comes up to bat, the crowd chants for that particular player. Who needs theme songs and music when you have an entire stadium chanting your name? The teams both have a cheer song too. When the opponent's team is up to bat, the home team fans are pretty quiet, except when there's strikeouts and such. The opponent team's crowd thus chants their player's names, wave banners, and so forth. It's a cooperative operation. The Japanese love their noisemakers too, but they aren't obnoxious about it. They all carry the plastic sticks that resemble bats that you hit together.
During the 7th inning, they don't stretch, but blow up and release balloons. They go all over the place, but the field crew has them cleaned up in a matter of minutes (it's a small stadium).
This beats Take Me Out to the Ballgame
So there you have it. Baseball might have been stolen from the U.S., but it has a good home in Japan.