Saturday was another great day here in Tokyo. Today was the first organized sightseeing tour and it was very interesting. We started off at Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo’s most famous temple. The legend has that two fisherman caught a golden statue of Kannon, a Buddhist goddess, from the river. A shrine was built in her honor and later a temple in AD 645. The architecture of the shrine was of more traditional Japanese style, as compared to the tall, modern skyscrapers that are prevalent in Tokyo. Thousands of Japanese aligned the streets and steps of the temple, gathering to pray. It was a funny sight to see a group of tall and strong MLB players towering over the friendly Japanese people. We got a lot of funny looks and giggles to say the least. From there we took a short boat trip down the Sumida River where we disembarked at Hamano-rikyu, known as Samurai Gardens. After a short stroll through the gardens we were treated to a traditional Japanese lunch consisting of different types of sushi.
Standing in the Kannon temple gave me great appreciation for the history of Japan, which dates back much much longer than the United States. America seems like such a new country relative to the ancient history of other places like Japan. It was a wonderful experience to see a traditional, ancient part of Japanese religion and to understand how it impacts Japanese culture today.
As for baseball, we came away with another solid, but close win. The star of the day was Ryan Howard, who hit two of the most impressive home runs I have seen. The first was an opposite field line drive and the second was a moon shot to dead center field. The home runs came in his first two at bats of the game. When the Japanese pitcher walked him on four straight pitches in his third at bat the fans became very upset, voicing their displeasure at the pitcher. It was pretty cool to see the Japanese fans excitement over the home runs and how they wanted, and perhaps expected, a home run each of his following trips to the plate. Another bright moment occurred when Tadihito Iguchi smoked a double down the left field line to score two runs. I’m sure it was a great feeling for him to have success in front of his native fans. Lyle Overbay provided the finishing touches with a homerun in the top of the 9th to extend our lead and Brian Fuentes closed out the game to earn the save. The two games against NPB have both been extremely competitive and exciting, exactly what was expected of the series. Fortunately we have come out on the winning end both times.