Following an offseason that was shorter than usual, pro baseball returned to Japan over the weekend.

There were home runs, super plays in the field, highly anticipated debuts and even fans in the stands. There were also, however, reminders things aren’t quite back to normal as NPB opens another season under the cloud of a pandemic.

The silence that permeated last year’s games returned as fans were asked to continue cheering in ways that don’t involve shouting or the usual chanting, singing and playing of instruments that are staples of the NPB experience. Some teams filled some of the space with recorded versions of the familiar songs and chants.