Friday, March 30, 2012

Repeat engagement

I am back in Tokyo, taking a break from the Big Durian (which apparently has not burned down just yet). I try to avoid repeat visits when going overseas, but this trip is as much business as pleasure. The weather is cool, breezy and overcast -- in other words, tailor-made for me.

After sleeping for 12 hours to shake off the jet lag, yesterday was spent talking to professors at the local campus of Temple University. That only took until 3 p.m., though, so I had the evening free. My plans were few and the folks I wanted to meet were busy, so I tried to weasel my way into the Yomiuri Giants season-opener against the Yakult Swallows. The Tokyo Dome was pretty packed, but for 1,000 yen I got a standing-room only ticket.

I had to peer around a pillar at times, but I was able to watch a gem of a pitching performance. Masanori Ishikawa was dealing all night for the Swallows, throwing 8 1/3 innings of hitless ball and allowing just one guy to reach first on an error. Two one-out singles in the bottom of the ninth chased Ishikawa and spoiled his no-hitter, but someone named Tony Barnette came out of the pen to finish the job.

Like my previous NPB outings (Seibu Lions vs. Rakuten Golden Eagles, Hiroshima Carp vs. Chunichi Dragons), I had no rooting interest between the teams. Instead, I took to pulling for the gaijin on the field. There were a couple Americans in the starting lineup, one I had heard of (Lastings Milledge) and one I had not (John Bowker). Milledge did little of note at the plate while hitting third for the Swallows, while Bowker got the second of the home team`s two hits in the ninth.

This evening will also be free-form after the info session at TUJ. Yokohama F Marinos are playing Kashima Antlers just south of Tokyo, so I could rush down there after the meeting provided I can get to the shinkansen in time. I also have a bit of shopping to do, but that can wait. Most importantly, though, I have to restock my supply of these beauties:

500 milliliters of Coke Zero for just 100 yen -- basically two cans for the price of one. How great is that?

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