About

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan, and watching a baseball game live at the stadium is an experience to be had. Not only is the atmosphere electric, but each stadium uniquely displays the character of the home team, and with limited-edition food items and souvenirs, going to a game and just being there is half the fun - even if you don’t know anything about baseball or the teams. But here’s some basic background for starters!

old picture of baseball

Baseball History

Baseball was first introduced in 1872 by an American professor who taught English in Tokyo. Since then it has become so popular that some Japanese are surprised to hear that the Americans consider yakyuu their national sport as well! The professional league is known as Nippon Professional Baseball, and the season lasts eight months starting from April and leading up to a championship held in October, the Nippon Series. On the world stage, Japan’s national team won the World Baseball Classic twice.

What's Unique About Japanese Baseball

There are broadly speaking two types of baseball in Japan: high school baseball and professional league baseball. The highest playing field for the former is the Hanshin Koshien Stadium – the name of the stadium located in Hyogo Prefecture in West Japan. The “Summer Koshien” is one of the most eagerly anticipated matches for baseball fans throughout the nation as they root for their local school teams. The professional league is known as Nippon Professional Baseball, which comprises two leagues of six teams each. Japanese teams are often named after their corporate owners, in addition to their geographical base. It is common for star Japanese players to head to Major League baseball in America, such as Ichiro, now playing for the Miami Marines, and Hideki Matsui who played for the New York Yankees. Japanese fans are also very organized in terms of supporting their teams, with various equipment such as clappers and horns to accompany their cheers – and even the synchronized releasing of team-colored balloons!

picture of japanese baseball

Teams

Like baseball fans all over the world, the Japanese are very passionate about their favorite teams as well. Each team has a different character, mascot and reputation - see which team below catches your fancy!

Central League

  • Hanshin Tigers
    阪神タイガーズ

    This is the oldest professional club in Japan and Tigers fans are known to be the most fanatical in the whole league. Not only do Tiger fans often outnumber home team fans at Tigers’ “away” games, so it’s quite a sight when they - like all other teams - start releasing balloons and bursting into the Tigers’ team anthem at the 7th inning.

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  • Hiroshima Toyo Carp
    広島東洋カープ

    This was the first Japanese team to start a baseball academy overseas in the Dominican Republic but the last to have a non-Japanese player onboard. 1965 American League MVP Zoilo Versalles was the first non-Japanese Carp player. Their team jersey is said to be similar to the Major League Baseball team in the US, the Cincinnati Reds.

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  • Chunichi Dragons
    中日ドラゴンズ

    Known as one of the most powerful teams in the league, this team has a 2009 Nintendo Wii game based on them called Doala de Wii. The team stopped the Yomiuri Giants from winning the league for their 10th consecutive year in 1974, and they clinched another title in 1999, setting a record 11 consecutive games at season start.

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  • Yokohama DeNA BayStars
    横浜DeNAベイスターズ

    This team is the last to not include the name of their parent company in the team name. In 2015, Alex Ramirez, a former BayStars player and the only foreign-born player to have 2,000 hits in Japanese baseball, was appointed manager for the 2016 season.

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  • Yomiuri Giants
    読売ジャイアンツ

    Regarded as the “New York Yankees of Japan” for their popularity and past dominance of the league, this is the oldest professional team in Japan. Outfielder Hideki Matsui played for the Giants for 10 seasons before migrating to New York Yankees of Major League Baseball.

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  • Tokyo Yakult Swallows
    東京ヤクルトスワローズ

    Winning their first Japan Series in 1978, the Swallows clinched five Central League championships and dominated the Japan Series in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001 under the management of Katsuya Nomura.

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Pacific League

  • Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
    東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス

    The newest franchise in Japanese baseball, this team was formed in 2005 after a merger of two baseball teams that resulted in the Orix Buffaloes. The Eagles won the 2013 Japan Series, defeating the incumbent Yomiuri Giants.

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  • Chiba Lotte Marines
    千葉ロッテマリーンズ

    Bobby Valentine, a former American professional baseball player for teams such as the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners managed the team from 2004-09. The Lotte Marines defeated South Korea’s Samsung Lions in the final round of the Konami Cup Championships in 2007.

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  • Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
    福岡ソフトバンクホークス

    The Hawks won the Japan Series in 2014 and for a second consecutive season in 2015. Owned by mobile communications giant Softbank, this is one of the most well-funded teams in Japan.

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  • Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighers
    北海道日本ハムファイターズ

    Major League Player Darvish Yu, a starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball used to play for the Nippon Ham Fighters, and so did left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima who left for the Boston Red Sox. Nippon Ham is one of the regular leading teams in the league.

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  • Orix Buffaloes
    オリックスバッファローズ

    Major League Player Ichiro used to play for the Orix BlueWave – what the team was called prior to a merger with the Kintetsu Buffaloes – and they won the Pacific League pennant in 1995 and 1996, as well as the Japan Series during his time.

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  • Saitama Seibu Lions
    埼玉西武ライオンズ

    The team was once nicknamed “Invincible Seibu” during the 1980s and 1990s due to their dominance of the league. Their powerful lineup of players included Kouji Akiyama, Kazuhiro Kiyohira and Orestes Destrade.

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Seats

Go for the best seats for a truly unforgettable time or get a standing seat in the outfield for a feel of the raw passion from the hardcore fans! Find out how the same game can be enjoyed from different angles at these seat categories.

seats overview
  • Infield Seats

    Infield Seats

    These field-level seats located behind the dugout area of the diamond puts you close to the players’ benches. If you’re lucky, may be able to get an autograph!

  • Outfield Seats

    Outfield Seats

    Seats here are one of the best places to feel the passion of the cheering fans with clappers and such instruments, and are generally cheaper as the seats may not be shaded. This is an economically-friendly way to to enjoy the game.

  • Standing Room Seats

    Standing Room Seats

    This is the most affordable way to catch a baseball game. Located at the higher levels, bringing a pair of binoculars may be a good idea.

  • Dugout Seats

    Dugout Seats

    Nothing gets you closer to the game than these premium seats right behind the home plate. Sitting here, you can really feel as if you are part of the game while cheering your team on!

Baseball Stadiums In Japan

Professional baseball in Japan consists of two leagues, the Central League and the Pacific League, with six teams in each. Here are the 12 baseball stadiums where they are based. See if there’s one at your next destination!

stadium loacation in Japan
  • stadium 1

    Tokyo Dome

    Tokyo Yomiuri Giants

    This home field of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team is the landmark of Tokyo Dome City, an integrated entertainment complex with shopping and a roller-coaster. Check out the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame which showcases the history of baseball in Japan here.

  • stadium 2

    Meiji Jingu Stadium

    Tokyo Yakult Swallows

    As the name suggests, this stadium is in the vicinity of sprawling Shinto Meiji Jingu Shrine. Baseball legend Babe Ruth played here in 1934 during a game tour of Japan. This was also used for a baseball exhibition when Japan hosted the 1964 Olympic Games.

  • stadium 3

    Yokohama Stadium

    Yokohama DeNA BayStars

    Located in the port city of Yokohama, which boasts the largest Chinatown in Japan, stadium is one of only three venues in Japan with an American look, that is featuring dirt around the bases and the pitcher’s mound. Michael Jackson performed here during this Bad World Tour to sold out concerts.

  • stadium 4

    Nagoya Dome

    Chunichi Dragons

    After visiting Nagoya Castle, why not drop by Nagoya Dome to watch the Chunichi Dragons play here? The architecture provides an example of a geodesic dome. This six-storey stadium has a capacity of up to 40,500 people and is also used for concerts.

  • stadium 5

    Hanshin Koshien Stadium

    Hanshin Tigers

    Koshien Stadium is the ultimate playing field for National High School Baseball tournaments, for which it was initially built for, with a capacity of 55,000. It was the largest stadium in Asia at the time of completion. Today, the Hanshin Tigers call this stadium – located near the port city of Kobe – home.

  • stadium 6

    MAZDA Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima

    Hiroshima Toyo Carp

    The stadium architecture is considered to be a retro-classic ballpark while the stadium is lauded as “American-style” and one of the best in Japan. Walking distance from the Hiroshima Stadium and the city attractions, this makes for a convenient stop to catch the Carps, well-loved by the locals.

  • stadium 7

    QVC Marine Field

    Chiba Lotte Marines

    Built on the shores of Tokyo Bay, this 30,000 capacity stadium with two seating levels is near the Kaihin Makuhari station(nearby Disney Land), which provides some entertainment and dining options. Explore the Tokyo Bay before heading to the stadium to cheer on the Chiba Lotte Marines.

  • stadium 8

    Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome

    Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

    Conveniently-located near downtown Fukuoka, this waterfront venue is part of what is called “Hawks Town”, comprising a mall, restaurants, a Hard Rock Café, etc, for lots of pre- or post-game dining options.

  • stadium 9

    Sapporo Dome

    Nippon Ham Fighters

    This is located close to Sapporo’s nightlife district of Susukino and Fukuzumi, so there are no lack of bars and clubs nearby to round off your day. This dome was used in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

  • stadium 10

    Kyocera Dome Osaka

    Orix Buffaloes

    There are two shopping malls right next the stadium for some shopping therapy before the game. Osaka’s main nightlife district, Namba, is also closeby that could easily entertain you till the wee hours.

  • stadium 11

    Seibu Dome

    Saitama Seibu Lions

    There is an amusement park one train stop away from the Tokorozawa station where this is located, so there can be fun for the whole family by making a stop here before watching a night game. The outfield seats here are picnic style, so bring a mat and enjoy the laid back atmosphere!

  • stadium 12

    Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi

    Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

    Located in Sendai, the stadium is a 20 minutes’ walk from the main train station, which boasts a Sushi Alley and a Beef Tongue Alley for you to try all the local specialties before setting out to the ball game.

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