Pretend you're training for the upcoming baseball season near Yokosuka
On a cold day, not uncommon this time of year in Japan, my wife and I had just finished some shopping at a mall near Yokosuka Naval Base.
Looking for something else to do on a day that was unfavorable for anything outdoors, we decided to visit Swing Stadium Yokosuka, an indoor batting cage near the mall, for the first time.
Being in my mid-50s and at the cages for the first time in my life, I was surprised to find people of all skill levels and ages taking their cuts. From seniors in the 60s or 70s to young children, the diverse group patiently watched as they waited for their turn in the cage.
Swing Stadium has six cages named after Japanese pitchers, ranging from Utsumi (50 mph) to Sugano (80 mph). Needless to say, we chose Utsumi.
With a free rental helmet and gloves, we bought a ticket for four games (each included 10 pitches) for 1,000 yen ($8). I was ready to take some hacks.
Against my expectation, Utsumi still threw the ball very fast ball. As soon as the ball appeared on the screen over the machine, it fired the ball that was so close to my face that I couldn’t help but throw my bat as I jumped out of the way.
Undeterred, I kept at it. After wasting the first five or six balls, I felt myself gradually get used to the speed. And on the 8th pitch, contact was made. Then, on the next pitch, I got one down the middle and hit it far in the air. A homerun! I was so proud that I began my victory trot, but no sooner did Utsumi fire in the next ball without mercy. A pitch, of course, I missed.
Twenty swings were enough for my wife and me. We felt refreshed and energized; we would be back.
Baseball is a big sport in Japan, and there are batting cages located throughout the nation. Check out Japan.stripes.com and Okinawa.stripes.com for more on batting cages in Japan.