Sunday, May 22, 2016

That One Day I Became A Tiger

A Japanese Culture festivity that is unmistakably Ennichisai Blok M, Indonesia's biggest Japanese Culture event featuring the best in Japan's culture, food, and more! (Image: Hai Jepang)

So last week Ennichisai Blok M has just ended and I ended up not going there because I had too many things to settle. On Saturday, I had to tidy up my college organization's HQ with friends, and on Sunday I had family business. Missing the event has its perks though as I witnessed something special in Formula 1: Max Verstappen won the race. Yes, that guy who went "NO!" in Singapore last year went all "YES! YES! YES!" in Barcelona this year, and that one swap with Danil Kvyat really worked, not to mention I could totally see a Supa Hot Fire reaction to two Mercs going kaput at the first lap.

But there is one interesting story I had to share, and this is about my last year's experience on Ennichisai. No, not the 2015 edition as I didn't go there either, but the 2014 one, famous for the rumors that the event would be no more in the future due to bribery as Ennichisai founder Daisei Takeya stated only to have it running again. The last time I went to Ennichisai was a trip that I will remember NOT because of the fact I see Super Sentai, Kamen Rider and other Tokusatsu heroes (which would be always a rule when it comes to my visiting Japanese culture events), and NOT EVEN because I mistaken a hippo for a cow on Instagram and that Finnish Anastasia Steele top model Anna Nevala liked it, taking the awkward level to... eleven, I suppose?

It's this. No, I mean it's these...

In an unlikely circumstance in my Japanese Culture event attendance ever, I managed to loot a T-shirt and some stickers from some booth without even spending six digits of Rupiah, and it happened in my visit to Ennichisai. To this day, I still possess them, and even it's the one I wore in Jiyuu Matsuri at UNJ a couple of months back. Okay, no post about Jiyuu Matsuri here, but I can tell you I did wear it, but hell even I wore them almost at any occasion involving going out to some place.

And that booth in question is of course the Jakarta-based fan club of the Hanshin Tigers, a popular baseball team in Japan. Founded in 1935 as Osaka Tigers, the Hanshin Electric Railway Co. Ltd.-owned Nippon Professional Baseball team playing in the Central League has won five Central League pennants and one Japan Series championship. The team is also known as the team with one of the most fanatical and dedicated fandoms throughout the Japanese Professional Baseball scene, often outnumbering the home team supporters at their "away" games (Wikipedia). Ironically, although having a large fanbase in its home country, little is known for this fanbase (which is justified because the baseball scene in Indonesia isn't as noticeable as, say, soccer and motorsport). Even googling "Hanshin Tigers Jakarta" will yield you no result of their existence, on the net actually, save for some blogs that wrote about their Ennichisai appearances, this included, but even without an online existence, they will be always known as the one whose booth is the most cheerful of all.

It was a random, surprise visit after attending an art gallery with my friends at Galeri Nasional, which is near Monas and Stasiun Gambir. Just after attending there, another friend of mine came up and asked everyone including me whether anyone's interested in going to Blok M with him or not. I took that offer and my second trip to Ennichisai commenced (first being 2013), although there was a bit of transportation difficulty, in which that friend in question only brought one helmet in his motorcycle and this is indeed a surprise visit while gambling that police didn't spot us. Luckily, we did escape unscathed to the nearest TransJakarta Busway terminal and from there on I was officially en route to Blok M, with a one trip that costs an honest price of IDR 3500. As I arrived, the hunt for booths, food stalls and cosplayers, my usual targets in every Japanese culture events, began.

And several moments later as the sun set in Blok M, I found the Hanshin Tigers booth and just went away with the program as I see them cheer hard. With only three balls at IDR 10000 at disposal, I embraced their cheering and it was just like I am representing Hanshin Tigers when I try to throw the ball to the corresponding hole. There is indeed a scoring system for different holes with the centermost one yielding the most points, and I did get that hole in two consecutive attempts before failing the third one, which led me to taking home the above loot. The rest of the story? Watching a cosplay show on the main (or is it secondary?) stage till night and went home as late as midnight, a feat I would never have in the history of my going out to somewhere, all while proudly bringing home my loot.

Thankfully, two other blogs also posted about the Hanshin Tigers Jakarta, which should be worth reading for you guys. The first one is this piece written by Andito Wasi which includes photos of the 2014 event and the Hanshin Tigers booth as well (ah memories), plus the post reminded me how much the game cost because I seemed to forget how much it was. Apparently, The Daily Japan also documented the booth's 2015 appearance, which would have been a comeback if I were attending the 2015 event. God knows if they opened the booth this year, but hopefully someone will write about them.

In the end, hopefully the memories (and cheers) of the Hanshin Tigers booth in Ennichisai still resonate in you readers, just like I do.


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