Watch Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks vs. Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Situated on Fukuoka’s coastline, PayPay Dome is a behemoth structure that hosts both baseball games and music concerts. It is the home turf of the SoftBank Hawks, one of the premier teams of Japan’s top baseball league.
For highlights of my experience, watch this YouTube video.
On Saturday 30 September, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks took on the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Outside the impressive exterior of PayPay Dome, people lined up for street food stalls and browsed souvenir shops.
On entry, I was given a small towel bearing SoftBank Hawk’s colours of black and yellow. Every attendee seemed to receive one too. I could already feel the spirit of Fukuoka’s citizens supporting its home team.
Along the rim of PayPay Dome before entering the main interior, there are more fast food outlets. I walked through a short tunnel and was in awe as I came out the other side. With the capacity to seat just under 40,000 people, the stadium has hosted legendary artists such as Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.
PayPay Dome felt gigantic, with a sea of spectators that stretched around the baseball field and a retractable roof that was as high as the sky. The atmosphere is even more enthralling during moments like the national anthem’s performance, or when a home-run is scored.
I enjoyed experiencing the passion towards baseball that the spectators had. I can now see how it’s engrained in Japanese culture and one of the country’s favourite sports. The crowd was in unison with every achievement of a SoftBank Hawks player. Massive banners were waved and chants were led by fans willing their team to win. When the match-winning home run was scored, strangers next to me reached out with heartfelt happiness and held my hand while jumping up and down.
Another exciting aspect about watching this baseball game was the entertainment. It was dramatic and absorbing. The host venue certainly put on a good show, with cheerleading performances, acrobatic feats, funny skits and thunderous fireworks.