上野公園での野球試合 An amateur baseball match at Ueno Park

Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in Japan and is also one of the most popular amateur sports- almost every school and university in Japan has it's baseball team(s). Even some large (and smaller) companies organise baseball competitions amongst their employees and against their competitors, with young (male) members of staff invited to represent the company on the diamond.

Grassroots baseball competitions make use of the public baseball pitches found scattered throughout urban areas. One particularly popular and renowned baseball field is the one found within Ueno Park. During my fieldwork in Tokyo, I would often see young men (either high school-aged or university-aged) playing games in Ueno Park, sometimes with large audiences (complete with young women supporting their favourite players quite vocally) and sometimes without.

The above recording was made during a weekday at approximately 8am. I was quite tired and was trudging through Ueno Park with many others on their way to work or school (I was on my way to work as well). I heard the sounds of the crowd at the baseball pitch from a distance and wandered over in order to have a look and a listen. Not being familiar with the rules of baseball, I wasn't too sure what I was seeing, but my impression was that the contest was semi-professional (or what is known as "professional amateur" or "pro-am"). In the recording you can hear the sound of the batters striking the balls, the sounds of the fielders rushing around calling to each other as they try to catch it or throw it to base. You can also hear the sounds of the supporters barracking for their team- I noticed a majority of young women in the audience but the sound of men's voices dominates the recording. Listening to the sounds again after having returned home, I was struck by how very "masculine" the space sounded and I wonder if others have similar perceptions of the sounds recorded here.

Recording: Thomas Baudinette Photo credit: mukarin, from Flickr, used under Creative Commons license

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