Baseball is without a doubt one of the most popular professional sports in Japan. It thus is no surprise that baseball and ソフトボール==softball (for non sports people like me: a variant of baseball with a smaller field, larger ball and some small differences in rules) are also popular as free time activities. Well, and guess what, the Shirakawa lab has a student softball team!
Which I was kindly asked to join.
For a tournament.
Having never held a baseball bat in my life before.
So off we set, on a beautiful Kyoto spring day, to the local park which (of course) features a softball field. Naturally, everthing happens in Japanese, which is absolutely no problem after two weeks in Japan, right? Well, no, but that’s how you learn.
In any case, the happy, anticipative atmosphere is palpable and requires no language skills to be super catchy. Everybody really makes me feel super welcome! Aaand, big bonus, I will not only function as player today, but also as team photographer. What a chance to learn about the high frame rate mode of my camera. (Fun fact, concerning photography the last two weeks have felt like the tutorial stage of a compter game, where I sequentially unlock new skills :D).
And about two minutes after we start warming up, the team gets an impressive demonstration that I really wasn’t being humble when I said I don’t know how to play, or even how to hold the bat or hit the ball. Well, plenty of time in the remaining five minute warm-up to learn the basics, right? And then, the game begins 😀
Our first adverseries stand no chance against the Shirakawa lab! We win 😀 (personal success story: managed to hit the ball at least…) Honestly, I am super impressed with the batting and defense of the the guys! The second opponent, however, is tough, and takes the lead early in the game. The team is fighting hard to catch up, with many good opportunities, but unfortunately too late. My sportive highlight of the day: almost made it to the first base. Quite ok for my first try, I think, with everybody staring at the only girl and foreigner in the game. (Who am I kidding, I like attention, so can’t really use that as an excuse XD).
After the two games we still have the field to ourselves, and I get a bit more practice time and tips from the team, now also trying out some pitching and defense. How can anyone throw so far and catch a ball that comes at you with such a hellish speed?! I just want to cower down on the ground and hide. Still, I’ve definitly caught fire for this game, I think this is the best team sport I’ve tried so far.
Thanks, everybody! I really enjoyed myself!