Japanese baseball fans disappointed by filthy conditions visiting Major Leaguers left dugout in

By Casey Baseel

Every year, Major League Baseball sends a delegation of players to Japan for a series of games against a team of Japanese all-stars. Since the contests are held after the conclusion of both the World and Japan Series, the players are all technically in their off-seasons, but there’s still some impressive skill on display.

The teams and fans all seem to come away with good memories of the games, but the Major Leaguers also left something behind: a ton of trash in their dugout at Tokyo Dome.

Baseball occupies different position on the scale between “fun game” and “serious business” in Japan and the U.S. Compared to football and basketball, the other two pillars of the American sports world, baseball’s slow, occasionally lackadaisical pace, lends itself to a more relaxed attitude. With regular and extended periods of downtime, players goofing around with one another or grabbing a snack while waiting for their turn at the plate are iconic and nostalgic images that add to the game’s unique charm.

In Japan, though, baseball is a much more hard-nosed affair. In contrast to the newfound popularity of soccer and basketball, baseball has been around in Japan so long that it’s the only modern team sport with its own Japanese name, "yakyu" (literally “field ball”). With that age comes traditional Japanese values and emphasis on regimented discipline, something you can see in the way many youth teams require players to shave their heads.

So when you put a Major League and Japanese team in the same ballpark, there’s a chance they’re going to act very differently. Earlier this week, I caught a bit of Game 4 on TV, and couldn’t help but notice that when the camera cut to a group of Major League players sitting on their bench in Tokyo Dome, almost all of them seemed to be chewing or munching on something. But hey, different cultures, right? Nothing to shake your head or cluck your tongue over, and Japanese fans and media didn’t have any complaints about the snack attack.

Things were a little different after the game, though.

As documented by Nikkan Gendai in the image above left, the two teams left their benches in very different states. At the bottom is the Japanese dugout, which is more or less spotless, with a carefully arranged stack of seat cushions being the only bit of clutter.

The Major League area, though, could almost as easily be called a pigsty as a dugout. There’s no way to tell if those stains were on the floor or not before the visitors arrived, but the plastic bottles, paper cups, and other bits of trash littering the place were pretty obviously left behind by the players themselves.

Famously neat and tidy Japan was less than impressed, as online comments showed.

“The Major Leaguers made a mess like it wasn’t even a thing.” “Can’t believe the lack of manners by the Major League team. Are they making fun of Japanese baseball?” “That’s the Major Leaguers for you. Gotta love those dirty post-game dugouts.”

As shown by the last remark, though, some Japanese fans do seem to be aware of the difference in cultural norms. One commenter pointed out the ubiquitous nature of sunflower seeds in Major League games, even going so far as to praise them as the perfect snack for athletes due to their healthy and nutritious nature. Another, perhaps remembering the debate sparked by Japanese fans cleaning up after themselves at the World Cup, offered the theory that the visitors didn’t want to take away jobs from the cleaning staff by picking up after themselves.

Still others posted pictures of filthy dugouts at Major League ballparks, asserting that what happened at Tokyo Dome isn’t necessarily indicative of a lack of respect for the Japanese league and its stadiums.

Differing cultural perspectives aside, though, “When in Rome, do as the romans do” is a pretty universally acknowledged target for international travelers these days. An equivalent phrase even exists in Japanese: "Go ni haitte ha go ni shitagae" (“When you enter the village, follow the villagers”). So maybe, along with trying sushi and taking their shoes off indoors, the Major Leaguers might want to toss their empty cups in the trash can after their next game in Japan.

Sources: Nikkan Gendai, Naver Matome

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Man, puhleeze, Japan is not tidy at all. Walk past Yokohama station west or nothwest exit tonight and see how much trash you find strewn about. Did anyone tell the MLBers they had to clean up the dugout? I hate stupid cliched sayings - If the Romans eat dog poo for dessert, are you going to eat it too? Spare me!

3 ( +15 / -12 )

Did anyone tell the MLBers they had to clean up the dugout?

@Mocheake: Reading is not your strongest points I see. The while point of the article is about the cultural difference.

If the Romans eat dog poo for dessert, are you going to eat it too?

If JT ever gave out an award for the dumbest post ever, you will be right at the top.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Honestly, it doesn't look so bad - not like a pigsty - maybe the seats are too low for the MLB players to check underneath.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

meh . wait till after a chinese event if you want to see a mess,

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Well, if it's anything like the rest of Japan, I bet there were no trash cans to be found...

13 ( +15 / -3 )

hey at least they didn't puke in the aisles.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This article is problematic from the very first sentence, claiming that a postseason series between MLB and NPB players happens every year. If I am not mistaken, this year was the first such series in eight years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

did i miss something? who won?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Really!!! Just for show that clean dug out. Pass the road near my house if you want to see a pisty. Fast food bags, empty cans and pet bottles clothes, shoes and the list goes on. When no one is looking it's a mad house.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So Japan lost and they want to complain about trash?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I've always wondered when watching baseball games from the U.S. via TV satellite ... do these guys live like this at home? Do they spit on the floor, throw their drinks on the floor, toss away their cups and other stuff on the floor at home? And the way they throw away their wads of bubble gum anywhere ... don't the players ever get this goo stuck on their baseball shoes?

From what I've seen after a major league baseball game is finished ... the dugout floor does look like a pigsty. Actually, I wonder if real-life pigs would be happy living in a dugout following a game. Probably they'd prefer their own home-like sty.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

When a major league team leaves a dugout littering it is a sign of discourteous behavior. If you travel abroad, you must show some class and follow the codes of conduct observed by other cultures. No matter your age, education, or social status, good manners, modesty and cleanliness are always in fashion.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Get real. Is Japan really "dissapointed"? Media trying to make a side story to getting whooped by the Americans this time around. I'm Japanese by the way, not incensed and about to throw my banana peel across the the sink. Safety Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Every year, Major League Baseball sends a delegation of players to Japan for a series of games against a team of Japanese all-stars.

This story has zero credibility. In fact, the very first sentence is flat-out incorrect. The MLB-Japan series are not annual events. This series was the first of its kind since 2006.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

In Tokyo, cleanliness depends on where you are. When we lived in an apartment along a busy street, the trash and recycling area was an eye sore. When we moved into a house just a block away along a quiet street the cleanliness is almost neurotic. One of the neighbors is out there every day sweeping the street along with the elementary school staff. I miss fall leaves piling up, but of course this is Japan, not America as the article says and at a least now the trash area is clean. When I was living in America I took it for granted that someone would pick up after me, but I did usually look for a trash can.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ever been to a Japanese beach near the end of the day? Now there's a pigsty.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

After games in USA, I rushed to get out and never nosed dugout. Do any of MLB tream allow to visit dugouy? Security Guarrds ensure viewers get out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are problems with this article - most notably the use of hyperbole. (Really? "A ton of trash in their dugout"?) But as others have note here, where in those pictures do you see a trash receptacle? I don't see one. Before anybody starts complaining about trash being left by the MLB team, they need to point out what was SUPPOSED to happen to the trash and explain how the MLB team was supposed to know this.

MLB stadiums have staff that handle clean-up of the stadiums after games and that includes the dugouts and locker rooms. I guess Japan's stadiums don't bother with such employees?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I wonder how many Japanese baseball fans ever help their wives clean, or wash their own tea cups at work.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Maybe this article wanted to tell that in Japan. nobody steal anything. There are balls bats, caps including water jugs and soda dispensaries. many 10,000 people and they can go to dugouts and no one steals anything, that this article stressing In Japan, security guards at the bottom of viasirors benches must be assigned to usher fans to dugouts tour..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


"So Japan lost and they want to complain about trash?"

Actually Japan won

3 ( +6 / -3 )

ive traveled through many countries and when it comes to trash, while Japan isnt the one of the dirtiest its far far from being one of the cleanest. one of my first impressions of Japan when I came was how much trash was on the streets the cigarette butts drink cans left on the side of the roads by drivers waiting at the traffic lights. ive even see people empty there ash trays out of there cars while waiting. and ive lost count how many times ive seen men peeing in plain site at the side of the roads.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Again, Japanese media's xenophobic hysteria. Japanese do not throw away trash when people are looking. But when nobody's looking and the social pressure is off, they throw trash everywhere. Just look at the beaches strewn with garbage. Mt Fuji is also a trash dump, including Japanese people defecating and urinating on the mountains - very surprising considering that it's a pride of Japan. Articles like this always seem to come up in Japan, to show how superior Japanese are, compared to the rest of the world. I guess it's one way to stroke your ego, after so much problems with the economy and the nuclear crisis which has been buried by the government.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Japan is more about comformity. Minor league baseball in Japan is a polite game. No wonder only few Japanese player make it in U.S. big leagues. MLB is a game of spitting and scratching and sliding, and all of it spills into the dugout, a cramped place where trash cans are non-existent and littering is the norm. But for U.S. MLB parks, the real mess is in the stands.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't follow baseball but from what I've seen Japanese baseball is but an extension of the Japanese military during the 2nd world war what with all the chanting, hazing, bullying and intimidating. I'm sure, as the military did they keep very clean and organised living and working quarters.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The bottom line is they were just looking for something to complain about to put themselves above the foreigners, and in all honesty a dirty dugout is nothing to complain about. I see people at the stations near my apartment and workplace spitting on the ground all the time, and there's an area near the local part that is FULL of trash, including an old scooter and a few other electrical appliances. So quit with all the 'Japanese are extremely clean' rubbish. It'd be nice if the MLB players cleaned up some of the trash that they left, or did what they can, but in the end that is not their job, nor what they came here for.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

shanghai skeptic:

meh . wait till after a chinese event if you want to see a mess,

I'll let you in on a secret. There were no Chinese baseball players at that contest. But don't let that stop you from taking potshots at the bogeyman simply because you've been embarrassed and want to let off some steam.

I'd love to see how the streets of Shibuya were like after the night of Halloween.


Again, Japanese media's xenophobic hysteria. Japanese do not throw away trash when people are looking

Yeah, like the number of times I've seen people sneakily leaving their empty cans and what-not on the trains. They know it's wrong and so they do it quietly. It's as if they don't know there's a bin on the platforms. And Fuji-san, you say? Oh no, it must be the foreigners again. Must be only the Chinese!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's not a big deal. No one is making a fuss about this. It's a total non-story. Yet posters get riled up and say "yes but Japanese are messier!" When the shoe is on the other foot you call such people "japanophiles" and "apologists."

2 ( +4 / -2 )

No-one mentions the elephant in the room, the baccy spit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MLB team and or members smuggled trash and trash are in evidence? That is why above photo show clean image of dugout? l

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two photos, Toshiko San. Compare the top one with the bottom one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@nanda; Thanl you


1 ( +1 / -0 )

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