Even if you're not a baseball enthusiast at home, you'll find the experience of attending a Japanese baseball game intriguing. And tickets are surprisingly simple to come by. Here are all of the specifics. Tokyo has two professional baseball teams: the Yomiuri Giants and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Each team plays 50 games per season, with 20 each at their respective stadiums. The regular season starts in April and ends in October.
The Giants won the championship in 2010 for only the second time in franchise history. The other year they came in third place. The Swallows are in their fourth season in Tokyo after moving from Yakutsk in Russia's Far East. They have never won the league title but they did win in 1995.
There are several other teams across Japan that play in independent leagues or in the major league draft. But these are the only two pro clubs in Tokyo.
Tickets for both games are available at the gates before the start of the match. Prices vary depending on how far back you want to sit (the further back, the cheaper it gets) and who you want to sit with (youth groups tend to get discounts). A typical ticket costs between $10 and $50. You can also buy individual game tickets on the day of the match outside the stadium entrance for about $70 per game.
Concessions are available for sale throughout the stadium.
The Yomiuri Giants play in the Tokyo Dome, which is located near Suidobashi Station in central Tokyo. The Yakult Swallows play their home games at Meiji-jingu Stadium, which is close to Harajuku and Shibuya. The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters play at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Stadium, which is located in Kutchan.
The stadium was built for the 1964 Olympics. It can hold 51,000 people and has been used for baseball games since then. The dome itself can be opened up for large events like concerts or football matches. In fact, it has been done so many times that it's considered a tradition rather than a novelty feature!
The Giants have played here ever since they moved to Japan from America in 1957. They've won ten Japanese League championships (the highest number of any foreign team) and three Japan Series (2008, 2009, 2013). The team's name comes from the Japanese words for "the voice of the mountains" and refers to a famous newspaper published in Yokohama with readers across Japan. Today, it's one of the most popular newspapers in Japan with a daily circulation of more than 1 million copies.
Japanese baseball can be likened to classic American baseball—Japan is 50 years behind. Finally, the Japanese play with a somewhat smaller ball, and their matches might conclude in a draw (Koppel). The concession stalls at Japanese baseball games are not the same. They sell rice balls and tamagoyaki (egg cake) rather than hot dogs and nachos.
In Japan, there is only one league called Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). It is divided into two seasons of 70 games each. In April and May, all 30 teams play each other once; at the end of this month, the top team qualifies for the post-season playoffs while the remaining teams finish the season second-to-last. The last place team in the regular season is eliminated.
The winners of the first stage advance to the second stage called Climax Series where they compete against three other teams for the title of national champion. The two finalists from the first stage then face off in the Japan Series Championship Game with the winner going on to face America's Major League Baseball (MLB) team in a best-of-seven series known as World Series.
The NPB was founded in 1948; since then it has become so popular in Japan that more than 10 million people have attended games. The Tokyo Giants are the most successful team having won 11 championships.
Baseball is one of Japan's most popular spectator sports. There are 12 professional baseball clubs in the United States, with six in the Central League and six in the Pacific League. Baseball is also popular among amateurs, and many youngsters participate in local Little Leagues or school baseball groups. In Japan, the sport is administered by the Japan Baseball Association (JBA). Like in the United States, there are minor leagues for amateur players.
Like in the United States, little boys play catch on street corners in Japan before trying out for a club team. But instead of school teams, Japanese children join neighborhood teams called chubanshi. The number of teams varies by community but can be as few as 20 or as many as 100. A match between two teams is called a game and lasts until one side achieves victory by producing runners who reach base safely. Games are usually played on a diamond-shaped field with dirt or grass surfaces. The pitcher throws from behind the plate to the batter who stands about 30 feet away. When the batter fails to hit the ball, any number of defensive players including catchers may come into action.
In America, girls play softball. In Japan, however, girls play baseball too. They just use a softer ball that feels like a rubber ball but is still able to be hit with force.
There are several reasons why kids play baseball in Japan rather than softball.