Ryan had a doctor's appointment he had to leave for so we parted ways at Quad Sports (although not before he discovered that the store would be moving across the street and about a block closer to the train station in the next week). I had planned on heading to Mint Urawa but between the heat (it was over 90 degrees each of my first three days in Japan), my ongoing recovery from hip surgery and the fact that I'm woefully out of shape, I didn't have it in me to make it up there that day. It didn't help that I'd be trying to go in the middle of the late afternoon rush hour either. I headed back to my hotel and called it a day. Luckily there was an Udon place next door to my hotel where the wait staff spoke some English and were very patient with me so I didn't have to go far for dinner.
I started working my way towards western Japan on Tuesday morning, although my first stop was Odawara, just about a half hour away from Tokyo Station on the Shinkansen. I was meeting up again with Ryan who is currently living there to go to Mint Odawara which is just a few blocks from the train station. I couldn't stay too long though because I needed to catch the Shinkansen for Nagoya, my stopping point for the next two days. I got into Nagoya in the early afternoon and again went to my hotel to drop off my suitcase and meet up with a friend to go to card shops with - this time it was Sean. We first walked over to Nagoya BITS which was just a few blocks away from my hotel. Then we hopped on the subway to go to Mint Ponyland. Sean needed to head home after that so we headed back to my hotel where I was able to give him some cards I brought for him. I thought about heading to the other card shop in Nagoya - Match Up - after Sean left but again I was pretty tired (and it was raining kind of hard) so I decided against it. I ended up at a nearby restaurant for dinner that night where they didn't really speak any English and didn't have an English menu. I was a little concerned about what I was going to end up with but with the help of Google Translate I managed to order a fried chicken breast with some sort of sauce on it and a beer - it turned out to be a great meal.
I didn't have a whole lot planned for Wednesday in Nagoya, at least not during the day. All three card shops in Nagoya were closed on Wednesday so I wasn't going to be able to go to Match Up. Given how worn out I was after my first four days of the trip having a day that I took it easy wasn't a bad idea. I also let practicality win out over vanity and started walking with a cane again, something I had stopped doing a few weeks earlier at home. Given I was walking over six miles every day and was still out of shape it really helped me out and I was glad I had packed it in my suitcase just in case.
I did have some things planned for the day, however. One thing I was very disappointed about when I was scheduling my trip was that the Dragons farm team was not going to be playing at home when I was in Nagoya. The farm team plays at Nagoya Stadium which was the home of the ichi-gun Dragons until they moved in the Nagoya Dome in 1997. I had hoped to see a game there but it wasn't to be - in fact they wouldn't even be home when I went through Nagoya the following week on my way back to Tokyo. What I could do though is go over and walk around the ballpark and maybe even go into it if it was open at all.
Here's what Nagoya Stadium looked like in the early 1990's:
|1992 BBM #104|
To get to the ballpark you take a JR Tokaido line train to Otobashi Stadium and walk about a half mile west. You have to cross under the Shinkansen tracks to get there (you can see the tracks in the lower left corner of the above picture).
I did a loop around the park and associated facilities, trying to peer in to see the field as much as I could. I could see and hear players working out on the field but the park was closed - I asked a guard at the parking lot behind home plate if I could go in and he said it was not open to the public. Here are a bunch of photos I took while walking around it:
|Looking in from the right field corner|
|Behind home plate|
|Indoor practice facility|
|Looking at the field from the left field corner|
|Field (and players) from the left field corner again|
|Another side of the indoor practice facility|
|Backside of the scoreboard|
It was mid-afternoon by this point and I headed back to my hotel to rest up for the evening's main event - the Baystars-Dragons game at Nagoya Dome.
The Dragons and the Lions are my two favorite Japanese teams so I was really looking forward to seeing the Dragons at home. The Baystars took an early 1-0 lead but the Dragons tied it up in the bottom of the sixth. The game went into extra innings - I started to wonder if I might see a 12 inning tie which would give me a chance to share this video on Facebook - but the Baystars pushed a run across in the top of the 11th off Dragons closer Hiroshi Suzuki. DeNA's closer Yasuaki Yamasaki came in and got his seventh save of the season despite giving up two hits. Final score was 2-1. I had another early morning Shinkansen trip scheduled for Thursday so I headed straight back to my hotel after the game and went to bed.