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It’s a hit! Baseball in Tokyo

Baseball is Japan’s favorite sport and if you love baseball then no trip to Japan would be complete without a trip to the ballpark. Nippon Professional Baseball has exported the likes of Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K) and Fukudome to MLB and if you are lucky you might get to see the next Japanese slugger or hurler on his home turf before he makes it big in America.

Even if you don’t get to see the next Fukudome you will have a great time at a Japanese baseball game. The fans here form complete cheering sections in the outfield that wave banners and flags, beat drums and cheer enthusiastically throughout the whole game and instead of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch the fans release screeching balloons into the air – it’s quite a site! Fan participation is taken to a whole new level in Japan and you won’t regret the experience. Oh, and best of all you don’t need to leave your seat to get a beer in Japan!

A total of twelve teams, divided into two leagues, play Nippon Professional Baseball. The Pacific League (PL) teams utilize the designated hitter while the Central League (CL) teams do not. Each team plays 144 regular season games between April and October. Playoffs culminate with the Japan Series (Japan World Series) in November of each year. Five baseball (yakyuu) teams are based in and around Tokyo (estimated travel time from Tokyo station in parenthesis):

The Yomiuri Giants (CL) play in the Tokyo Dome (10 minutes).

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows (CL) play in Jingu Stadium (20 minutes).

The Chiba Lotte Marines (PL) play in Chiba Marine Stadium (35 minutes).

The Yokohama BayStars (CL) play in Yokohama Stadium (40 minutes).

The Seibu Lions (PL) play in the Goodwill Dome (90 minutes).

Check out the Japan Times Guide to Ballparks for directions and maps to the various stadiums and use the Tokyo Transfer Guide to map your best travel route to the games. The Japanese baseball schedule in English at Japan Ball will help you find the game that best fits your schedule.

The Yomuiri Giants are the only team that offer online ticket sales in English and if you plan on attending a game at Tokyo Dome I would recommend getting your tickets in advance at the stadium or purchasing them online as the team is very popular and their games often sell out. For the other teams you should have no problem getting tickets at the gate on most game days. Ticket prices are approximately Y1,800 – 4,500 ($18-45) per person for adults.

Photo Credit: Personal Collection & Flickr, Tokyo Dome Giants