Apr. 10th, 2017

(this should probly be on Marinerds but I'm writing the braindump uncut version first)

So, back in 2013 we had this pitcher for the Fighters, Hiroshi Kisanuki. I became a huge fan of his for various reasons but the major upshot was that he was super nice to fans, funny as all hell in interviews and other things, and a proud train nerd. He pitched well for us in 2013 but then had down seasons in 2014 and retired at the end of the 2015 season (ironically, the day he retired, I spent the morning going on a train nerd mission and then went to his retirement game in the evening and cried buckets).

I was kind of sad that I never got to meet him again after 2013 -- he used to come out to the stands and give away signed baseball cards and stuff and I'd always say hi and talk to him a little -- but I missed him at Kamagaya and wherever. And when he retired, rather than working for the Fighters, he went back to the team that originally drafted him, the Giants (boo), as a scout.

Anyway, I'm in Japan! I just got here yesterday, which was a debacle in itself in some ways -- the last year or two I've been flying into Haneda on the SFO->HND redeye from JAL, which they just cut this past winter, and I didn't trust trying to fly to LAX first with a 2-hour connection time, so instead I flew from SJC to Narita, Saturday to Sunday. Got in Sunday afternoon at 3:30... just like pretty much every flight. The immigration line at Narita took over an hour and was stretched all the way outside of the immigration area, down the hallway towards the landing area. It was insane. Fortunately, once I got through the immigration, I was on a train towards Tokyo less than ten minutes later, because I didn't have checked baggage AND I know to take the Keisei Skyliner instead of waiting in the line of 200 people at the JR office getting rail passes and tickets for the Narita Express.

Unfortunately, jet lag, which didn't hit me much when I did the redeyes (I slept at least some on the plane, and they get in at 5am so I just have to power through a whole damn day), hit me pretty hard this time. I stayed up until 9pm, went to sleep, and then woke up at like... 3am. And couldn't get back to sleep. Bleh. So I decided around 6am to get up and go Pokemon hunting, because, why not, right? I wasn't going to be able to get my Google building badge until at least 9am anyway, so why go to work early? I looked around at the tracker map -- yes, we have working trackers in Japan, unlike the US -- and found a Hoppip nest in a park I'd never been to. Got up, got ready, and left the hotel around 7:45am or so to wander out there.

Well, uh, it actually turns out I had been to that park before... or at least that area... because it was the park just north of Ota Stadium :/

And worse, once I got there and realized that, I also realized that this was a day that Tohto League 2nd Rank would be playing there. The first game of the day was even Takushoku vs Rissho, both teams that in the past I knew some players on them, though I think that time is long gone and nobody on either team should recognize me. BUT, I realized that if any baseball fan friends were coming to the game and saw me lurking around Ota Stadium they would totally expect me to go in and watch the games! But I didn't have a scorecard or a camera or anything with me for watching baseball, AND I had told people I'd be at work today and all, so I really didn't want to skip out on all that.

So I did find and capture like 12 Hoppips in the park. And of course as I got near the stadium I could hear the players working out and could see the team managers wandering around and such. But I decided to stick to my original idea and leave.

I was walking towards the road outside the stadium area and suddenly I see this guy in a suit walking up towards the stadium and I'm looking at his face and I realize that HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT'S HIROSHI KISANUKI.

Fortunately my brain's astonishment did not override my natural ability to talk too fucking much, so I say in Japanese, "You're Kisanuki, right? I was such a big fan of yours when you were on the Fighters."

He's like "Yeah, I am. You were?"

I babble that I even met him a few times and got cards from him and made a sign board to cheer for him and all of this other crazy stuff, that I was even in Hokkaido for his retirement game and I went to Koboro station that day. He noticed somehow that I had a Fighters case on my cellphone and was like oh, yeah, you have Fighters stuff. And then was like "Uh, where are you from? Your Japanese is really good."

And I'm like "Oh, I'm American, but I used to live here and I went to baseball games all the time and..."

Also I asked what he was up to but I think it came out wrong because he said "I'm scouting for the Giants now, so I'm here to watch the Tohto league games."


Anyway I had the presence of mind to say "Can I take a picture with you?" and so took a two-person selfie with my phone. Good thing I did because I had something to post to the internet and also so ten minutes later I wouldn't be like "OMG DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN?"

(let's see if this works, I'm going to link to the Twitter image I posted)


It's funny because I always wanted to get a photo with him when he was a player but never ever did because I never got to meet him without an outfield fence in the way!

Funnier, still, the final thing I said to him was "Do you still like trains?"

"Of course! I ride them all the time."

"Oh. What's your favorite train in Tokyo?"

"Hmm... I used to ride the Chuo-Sobu line when I was in college a lot, so I like riding it now for the nostalgia."

"Oh! Cool. I like the Toden Arakawa, do you know it?"

"Yeah, I rode it once."

"The trains are so cute."

(omg I'm such a dork.)

Anyway I apologized a bazillion times for talking too much and told him it was super cool to meet him again, and he shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me too, and then he went off towards the stadium and I went off away from the stadium towards the station... though for at least 2-3 blocks I was walking along like "HOLY FUCKING SHIT DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN DID I REALLY JUST MEET KISANUKI HOW AMAZING IS THAT HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED"

Seriously if this is what happens to me within my first 24 hours back in Japan I'm not sure whether that means the entire trip will be downhill from here or if it will just be even more insane! Think about the coincidence of this: there's no reason I should have been in that park, at that exact moment, except for that I woke up early and thought it'd be fun to find a Pokemon nest, and happened to pick that park despite that it totally was NOT on my way to work or anything, but it looked interesting and new, and I got vaguely lost at first in the park so that's why my timing was what it was, and... and I got to meet one of my former favorite baseball players. It's just so absolutely batshit crazy in some ways.

July 2017

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