Quite often, when you visit a home team’s stadium, there is an official store located right at the stadium.
But for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, since their stadium is one of the oldest active stadiums in the world, the official good store is located a few blocks from the stadium.
For those not familiar with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the team is a Central League baseball team that is based in Tokyo and is rivals with Central League’s Yomiuri Giants.
Founded in 1950 as the Koutetsu Swallows, then Sankei Swallows, then Sankei Atoms,Yakult would purchase the baseball team in 1974 and would bring back the Swallows name and in 2006, added the “Tokyo” to the team name.
Whereas the Yomiuri Giants are looked at as the New York Yankees-like baseball team in Japan, Tokyo Yakult Swallows can be looked at as…well what if the New York Yankees and the New York Mets were in the same division, or the New York Jets and the New York Giants. Usually teams in the same city are typically not in the same league but in Japan, these two teams are in Tokyo and they have a strong rivalry.
Sure, the Yomiuri Giants have a bigger payroll, have a long history of championships and have the indoor Tokyo Dome, while the Tokyo Yakult Swallows have seven pennants and five championships and have an outdoor stadium. Often seen as the underdogs, Swallows fans show their pride and can’t stand the Yomiuri Giants.
And it’s one of the more interesting things to see in the seventh inning, when the fans break out their umbrellas (hence why you will see an umbrella on some Tokyo Yakult Swallows hats) when the “Tokyo Ondo” song starts to play.
What I enjoyed about this store is the many New Era hats they have of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Typically, most teams stay with their primary color, but for Tokyo Yakult Swallows, you can find various colors available, aside from the red, white and blue or the dark blue/green that the team typically wears.
And I found it to be bigger than the Yomiuri Giants store at the stadium, especially in terms of offerings.
During game day, there is a store at the stadium (as you can see above) but like other shops outside the store, it’s limited in terms of offerings. The best choice is to go to the official goods store.
What should one look for at the store? For me, as an NPB baseball fan and collector, I always look for the following:
- New Era Hats or Official Team Hats – I try to get all team hats featuring past and present logos.
- Team Mascot Plush (something not too huge to bring back home) – They offer the male or female, in this case the main mascot is Tsubakurou but you can also see his little sister Tsubami, and in 2014, another character, Torukuya was recently added.
- Wrist/Sweat Bands – Inexpensive, great to it’s during the hot and humid months in Japan.
- Towels – I always try to find a team towel to bring back home.
- Team sticker – Usually purchase a few stickers, car stickers for fans who have no access to obtaining them.
- Mini Bats – Mini bats that fans tend to clap together to make noise along with fan chants
- Team ID Badges – A convenient way to hold your ticket.
- Lanyard – I always purchase a team’s lanyard.
- Baseball Cards – Japanese baseball cards are like the lottery. You never know when you get an autographed card.
While I like purchasing jerseys, it’s important to remember that a) there is no changing room at most of these stores b) Japanese sizes are always different from American sizes. So, an XXL in Japanese jersey size is a size Large in U.S. jersey size. So, best to think two sizes up when purchasing a Japanese jersey.
But just enjoy what these stores have to offer and just remember to not go overboard and go over the weight limit for your luggage when you return back home!
If you are a fan of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, definitely give the official store a try!