Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hiroshima Carps

Slyly The Mascot, Hiroshima Carps
Only five years after the devastation of the atomic bomb, one of the things that the city did to try to help with reconstruction was to establish a baseball team. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp got their name from a combination of the city's Rijo, or Carp Castle, and the car company, Toyo Kogyo. The founder of car company Toyo Kogyo, Jujiro Matsuda, owned the controlling interest in the team, having funded its set-up. Whilst the car company was sold on, and is now Mazda, the Matsuda fairly retain their share of the Carps, with the City of Hiroshima owning the rest.

Caroline Kennedy, Hiroshima Carps
The Carps didn't start out too well though and it took them 25 years to start to become successful. But then they did pretty well, winning six pennants up until 1991, but then it all went downhill again, and they are now the only team in the league not to have reached higher than third place since 2000.

Performance isn't helped by the refusal of the management to pay high salaries, so they are unable to buy or retain any top players. But the fans are steadfastly loyal nonetheless and hugely supportive of their team.

Hiroshima Carps
The 32,000 capacity Mazda "Zoom Zoom" Stadium is usually full of enthusiastic, if often disappointed, fans, who are encouraged along by Slyly the mascot. So while we were in Hiroshima, we decided to make like a local, and join them.

After a brief false start in finding where to get the tickets, we managed to get seats for the home match against the Chunichi Dragons. The ceremonial opening pitch was made by the current US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of the assassinated US President.

Hiroshima Carps
Now, we did a quick look up of rules and so forth beforehand, but Nic and I know nothing about baseball. But even we could see that both teams were pretty awful. We started out fairly optimistic, as the Carps scored an early home run, but that soon faded. As it turned out, that was the only home run of the match.

Hiroshima Carps
It did rather amuse us to watch the crowd during the match, in particular the food choice. There was none of the US style hotdogs, or UK style pies, here it was big bowls of piping hot ramen noodles being slurped through the match. It seemed to us like an accident waiting to happen, but I guess they're well practiced.

Hiroshima Carps
Probably my favourite part of the match was towards the end. We had noticed a number of people buying packets of something red from the vendors, and all of a sudden, everyone started getting out red balloons and blowing them up. One of the guys sitting in front of us handed us a couple of spares, so we duly blew them up, trying to stifle childish giggles at the sight of a stadium filled with people holding rather phallic shaped red balloons!

Red Balloons, Hiroshima Carps
The stadium burst into their team song, and then once it was finished, everyone let go, and thousands of red penis shaped balloons went 'zoom-zooming' around the stadium.

Hiroshima Carps
But crowd enthusiasm notwithstanding, the Carps nearly lost it at the end, when a particularly bad pitcher kept giving away base-on-balls, or 'walks' by delivering four duff pitches. It had reached the point where there all three runners had got to their bases through walks, and one more would give them the run that they needed to draw level, and if they managed a good hit, they could get four runners home.

Hiroshima Carps
Much to the Carps relief, the batter was caught out and they managed to stop any of the runners making it back. So the Carps won. By a rather pathetic 1-0, but still a win. The crowd were thrilled.

Hiroshima Carps

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