Thick Sushi Rolls And Baseball Parks

A short essay from Haruki Murakami’s Murakami Radio.

I’ve been a Yakult Swallows baseball fan ever since I moved to Tokyo at 18 for college. At the time they were called the Sankei Atoms, and they were awful. If they weren’t in last place they were in 4th or 5th. But the real reason I was a fan was for Jingu Stadium. And it wasn’t just the park itself – I liked the whole surrounding area. I liked it so much that I’m still a Swallows fan to this day. That, and I’m anti-Giants. I spent many games crying on the grassy bleacher lawn watching them suffer another crushing defeat.

I recently read a medical article explaining how your body secretes these special energizing chemicals when you favorite sports team win a game. I was astounded. I’d have led a much more fulfilling life if I’d been a Giants fan rather than a Yakult fan! Just compare those win rates. That’s a dangerous way to think. Give me my life back! And all those energizing secretions I could have had!

Back in the old days I’d stop by this sushi place that was right by the park before games to pick up these special thick sushi rolls that came in their bento boxes. The place was pretty dead at 6PM – there were no other customers, and even the guy who ran it wasn’t there. I’d sit down at the counter and enjoy a beer and some sashimi as I watched the young guy who always worked there make the rolls. Nearby, the baseball game was starting. It was one of life’s simple pleasures.

My wife doesn’t watch baseball. From time to time I’d invite another woman to join me. “Date night, huh?” the guy who worked there would say, ribbing me for almost always being alone. “Yep,” I’d reply. We’d sit in the bleachers, the evening summer breeze blowing through our hair as we sipped on beer in paper cups and split our freshly made rolls. Back then there were plenty of single women who’d take me up on the offer for a relaxing evening of fun, but these days not so much. Everyone’s married with kids, and there’s no time for baseball. I spent a little time abroad and by the time I got back the whole Yakult lineup had changed. Life moves on with no regard for our personal affairs. The kid who made those great sushi rolls started his own place, somewhere far away. I haven’t been back there in years.

Thick sushi rolls are the best. Eel, squid, egg, herbs, squash, and all these random ingredients together like they’re bundled up in bed. Just looking at it makes me happy. By the way, why do most women like to nibble at the parts that squish out of the ends of the roll?