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How to Watch Baseball in Japan

How to catch a baseball game in Japan

· 6 min read

When it comes to sports in Japan, baseball reigns supreme as an exhilarating choice. The pulsating energy that fills the air at a baseball match in Japan is absolutely unmatched. Whether you're a passionate fan or just a casual observer, immersing yourself in the electrifying spectacle of a live game in Japan is a heart-pounding adventure that simply cannot be missed.

Source: Yomiuri Giants
Source: Yomiuri Giants

Brief Overview of Baseball in Japan

Baseball was introduced to Japan in the 19th century by American teachers and quickly became one of the most popular sports in the country. Today, baseball is a national obsession in Japan, with millions of fans following their favorite teams and players passionately.

Source: cathykid
Source: cathykid

The first recorded baseball game in Japan took place in 1873 between foreigners and locals in Yokohama. Since then, baseball has come a long way in Japan, with the establishment of the Japanese Baseball League (JBL) in 1936. The league was later renamed as Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in 1950 and has since become a major professional baseball league in Japan. The NPB currently has 12 teams divided into two divisions, the Central League and Pacific League.

Some of the most popular teams include the Yomiuri Giants, the Hanshin Tigers, and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The Yomiuri Giants, also known as the Tokyo Giants, are one of the oldest and most successful teams in Japanese baseball history. The Hanshin Tigers, based in Nishinomiya, also have a large and passionate fan base and are known for their enthusiastic supporters.

Planning your trip to watch baseball in Japan

Watching a baseball game in Japan is an experience like no other, and proper planning can make it even more enjoyable. Here are some things to know to help you organize your trip:

NPB Regular Season

The NPB season typically runs from late March to October, with each team playing 143 regular-season games. The regular season is followed by the Climax Series and the Nippon Series, which could run into early November. The long-running season also means that unless you are heading to Japan during winter, you are almost sure to be able to catch a NPB game.

The best time to watch baseball in Japan is during the summer months when the weather is pleasant, and the games have a festive atmosphere. Japanese summers are known for their warm and humid weather, but that doesn't stop the fans from enjoying the games.

Choosing the game and stadium

Japan has many beautiful cities, each with its unique culture and attractions. When selecting a city to watch a baseball game, you should of course consider the other activities you want to do during your trip.

Of course, if there is a team in the NPB that you support, you should try to catch a game at their own stadium for one of the best experiences. But if you are just a casual spectator, and just want to experience watching a baseball game in Japan, then you can pick a game that fits your schedule and plans — check out the schedules for the games on the NPB website.

Jingu Stadium | Source: Kakidai
Jingu Stadium | Source: Kakidai

If you will be in Tokyo, there are two stadiums — the Tokyo Dome, which is the home stadium of the Yomiuri Giants, and the Jingu Stadium, home to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Both are great options to catch a game. The Giants are one of the most popular teams, so you can expect a very enthusiastic crowd at the Tokyo Dome. While Swallows isn't as popular and the Jingu Stadium is smaller, the experience and atmosphere of watching baseball in a traditional outdoor field is an experience that the Tokyo Dome can't match.

Koshien Stadium | Source: Hanshin
Koshien Stadium | Source: Hanshin

For one of the best experiences, try catching a game at the Koshien Stadium, which is one of the most iconic stadiums in Japan. Apart from it being the home ground for the Hanshin Tigers, the Koshien Stadium is also of very high significance in Japanese high school baseball. High school teams play regionally to fight for a chance to play on a national level at Koshien, and being able to play on Koshien is considered one of the highest prestige in Japanese high school baseball. The Summer Koshien games are usually in August, and if you happen to be in Japan during that time, try to catch one of those games — the atmosphere during these games are unparalleled and could even be better than watching a NPB game.

Purchasing tickets

Buying Online in Advance

Once you have decided on the game that you want to watch, you can purchase the tickets online from the official websites of the stadium or home team for the game:

Take note that some of these sites are only available in Japanese, though a quick Google Translate of the page should be able to help you get through the ticketing process. It might also be worth noting that you might have to create an account or join the fan club to be able to purchase the tickets. If you need a local Japanese address to deliver the tickets, you could use the address of your hotel!

Buying from Convenient Stores

Source: All About Japan
Source: All About Japan

Other than purchasing the tickets online, you will sometimes also be able to purchase tickets from the machines at the convenient stores in Japan. Different teams may use different ticketing systems, so you will still have to check which convenient stores you can go to buy the tickets for your desired game. Note that these machines are mostly in Japanese, but you can get the staff at the stores to help you with it.

Proxy Ticketing

Alternatively, you can get a proxy to purchase the tickets for you. One of the most popular proxy services for getting baseball tickets would be to use the Japan Ball Tickets. Just take note that there will be a service fee for each order.

Buying on-site

Source: 江戸村のとくぞう
Source: 江戸村のとくぞう

It is also possible to purchase tickets on-site on the day of the game, subject to availability. But do note that this is not guaranteed, especially for games that are more popular. If you plan to try your luck on-site, we recommend that you arrive early for higher chances.

Join a Tour

If you are not fussed about the team that you are watching and simply want to experience a baseball match in Japan, we have also found a tour for Yomiuri Giants Baseball Experience. On this tour, you can expect to learn more about the team, as well as the cheers and chants for the Giants for a full immersive experience!

💡If you are planning to catch the summer or spring Koshien for high school baseball, you can also do so from the Hanshin website or from the convenience stores. Keep a look out on the JHBF's website for details on the high school baseball tournaments.

Attending a Japanese baseball game

Now that you have planned your trip and got your game tickets, here are some tips to make the most out of your experience.

Source: Yomiuri Giants
Source: Yomiuri Giants

Choose a side

Watching a baseball game in Japan is not just about watching the game; it's also about experiencing the ambiance and rituals that come with it. As with most sporting events, the best way to enjoy a game and soak in the mood is to pick a side to support for the game. Most of the stadium will be there to support the home team, but do note that there could be zones in the stadium that are reserved for fans of the visiting team. If you are seated in those zones, you can't bring in goods and items of the home team.

Join in the cheering

In a baseball game in Japan, cheerleaders are almost as important as the players themselves. The cheerleaders and cheering squad play a very important role in getting the atmosphere up. To get the full experience while enjoying the game, join in the cheering as the cheering squad chant specific songs or do a dance routine to hype up the crowd.

Get food and drinks at the ballpark

Japanese baseball stadiums offer a wide range of delicious and unique food and drink options. From classic popcorn and hot dogs to Japanese snacks such as fried chicken skewers and takoyaki, there's something to suit everyone's taste. Aside from bites, bento boxes are also available if you want something more filling. You can also get some cold beer to go along with your game!

Pick up a souvenir or cheering good

To commemorate your baseball experience, pick up a souvenir or a cheering good of the team from the stores. From jerseys to player goods, spend some time looking through the shop to find something that piques your interest!