Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lights Out Meiji Jingu Stadium

I am not sure if this has made the English language news or not, but there is some extremely disappointing news for Japanese baseball fans out there.  Meiji Jingu Stadium, home of the Yakult Swallows and, along with Koshien Stadium, one of only two historical baseball stadiums still in use in NPB is slated to be demolished.

Built in 1926 it is the oldest baseball stadium in Tokyo and in addition to the Swallows it has also hosted countless high school and university tournaments in its long history.  To most baseball fans it is considered sacred ground (Robert Whiting in You Gotta Have Wa in fact uses that exact phrase to describe it).

According to the news report I saw, the stadium is going to be torn down as part of a larger plan to redevelop the area in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics.  The Stadium which hosted the 1964 Olympics, an important historical landmark in its own right, stands quite close to Jingu.  Or perhaps I should say stood, as the Olympic Stadium is in the process of being demolished to make way for a bicycle helmet that will host the 2020 games.
Jingu will remain in use until the 2020 season while a Rugby stadium located next door is demolished (in keeping with Tokyo`s apparent determination to obliterate its historical landmarks, that stadium is also historically valuable).  A new baseball stadium will be built on the site of the former Rugby Stadium and after it is completed in 2020, Jingu will be destroyed.

As someone with a love for Japanese baseball history I find this both sad and a bit angering.  I have never been to Jingu but it is the one stadium that I want to see a game played at. 

The news report didn`t include any artists conceptions or other description of what the new stadium will look like.  If it is a Dome like  we have here in Nagoya I will be immensely disappointed.  The design of the new Olympic Stadium fills me with dread that whatever they have in mind will be awful.  If they do, however, build something like HIroshima`s Mazda Stadium, I will be somewhat mollified as that actually looks like a fun place to watch a game.  Either way though, I am really upset about the upcoming loss of an important piece of Japanese baseball history.

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