Going To A Thrilling Baseball Game In Japan (2024 Edition)



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If I were to ask you what you thought Japan's most popular sport is I'm guessing you'd probably think it was sumo wrestling

After all, it has been part of Japanese society for hundreds of years, and has always been reflected in its popular culture. Not so long ago you'd have been right. 

However, over time sumo's popularity has declined, and its position as the country's “national sport” has been supplanted by baseball. 

Here's why I recommend going to a baseball game in Japan... 

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Baseball in Japan The Real Japan

Going To A Baseball Game In Japan

by Rob Dyer


LATEST UPDATE (March 2024): Ticket availability for baseball games in Japan has become more difficult  (ie virtually impossible) outside of Japan since the pandemic. I am currently recommending that you buy your tickets inside Japan from the individual team websites. Other companies, such as Rakuten Travel Experiences, have stopped selling tickets. I am sourcing alternative ticket buying options and will update my recommendations based on how things change over the coming months.

With corruption scandals and foreigners winning the top trophies unsettling sumo, the Japanese have increasingly turned their attention to baseball.

Children play it all over Japan as a past-time and in high schools up and down the country, and it is as ingrained in the popular culture and the national psyche as it is in America. The pro baseball season is eight months long starting in April.

Baseball's origins in Japan – Professor Horace Wilson

But this isn't some egregious example of American cultural imperialism. Rather it's a natural development of a sport that was originally introduced to Japan by American English professor Horace Wilson in 1872.

Hanshin TIgers fans at Koshien Stadium

Hanshin Tigers fans at Koshien Stadium

The first professional games were played in the 1920s and the first professional league formed in 1936, and baseball's place within Japanese culture has steadily increased ever since.

A lot of natural and cultivated talent for the game has grown down the years. So much so that the Japanese can field players that were every bit as competent as their North American counterparts.

Indeed, demonstrating the almost parity that exists at the higher levels of the game, Japanese players have left Japan to play in the professional leagues in the USA, and vice versa.

SEE ALSO: How To Travel in Japan When You Don't Speak Japanese

Koshien Stadium - home to the Hanshin Tigers

Koshien Stadium - home to the Hanshin Tigers

The Hanshin Tigers – Go! Tigers!

When in Japan, I'm based near Kobe, where two baseball teams are established - the Orix Buffaloes and the Hanshin Tigers. Of the two, the Hanshin Tigers are the better-known and more famous team. They also happen to be one of the oldest and most-popular teams in the country.

The Tigers have been playing at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture (in between Osaka and Kobe) since 1936. They are a widely-supported team, albeit not the most successful. That honour goes to their arch rivals the Yomiuri Giants.

Growing up as kids in the 1970s, we thought most things from America were cool, so I had tried my hand at baseball a few times, in and out of school. I also had a copy of Hardball – an 8-bit video game for my Atari computer in the 1980s.

Going To A Baseball Game In Japan The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Scoreboard inside Koshien Stadium

But as an adult, I had been generally impervious to baseball's charms - never having ever been to a live game.

But more recently, I thought I'd give it a go. This was partly due to my wife's parents being fans of the sport and regularly watching live games, and/or the summary footage, on TV at the end of the day.


How to buy tickets for a baseball game in Japan

Actually going to see it live makes for an entertaining and fun night out – even if, like me, your knowledge on the rules is rudimentary at best.

Ticket prices vary depending on the stadium and seat location, but if you budget for between ¥3,000 to ¥10,000 per ticket, you'll be in the right... erm... ballpark! 😉 You'll get your money's worth too - expect to be in the stadium for around 3 hours.

Tip: it can be difficult (sometimes impossible) to buy tickets on the day of a game for the most popular teams like the Tigers and the Giants. So, if you can, better to buy your tickets in advance.

Another option, if you're not familiar with baseball and want some guidance from a local who is to watch a Japanese Baseball game with a local fanatic.

Going To A Baseball Game In Japan The Real Japan Rob Dyer

You definitely don't have to be a baseball fanatic to have a good time. It's a multi-generational experience too. With families of children, parents and grandparents making up a substantial proportion of the massive crowds the sport attracts every year.

In contrast to their stereotypical everyday lives, Japanese baseball fans are a raucous and vocal tribe. Expect constant songs, chants and teasing between home and away fans – all done with a smile and plenty of inflatable baseball bats.

For the casual observer especially, this is a big part of the appeal of being at a live game. Don't be surprised to find yourself joining in the chants before the end of the night.

Booking baseball game tickets - by city (A-Z)

(Links will open in a new tab)


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Marine Stadium in Chiba


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Hiroshima Toyo Carp at Mazda Stadium


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Osaka Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Seibu Dome in Saitama


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido

Tokyo (Giants at Tokyo Dome)

Get Baseball Game Tickets for Yomiuri Tokyo Giants at Tokyo Dome

Tokyo (Swallows at Jingu Stadium)

Get Baseball Game Tickets for Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium


Get Baseball Game Tickets for Yokohama DeNa Baystars at Yokohama Stadium

Another option is to try the ticket buying service at JapanBallTickets.com. Although I have been in contact with the site owner, I've not used it myself, but it looks legit and has been featured by some major global brands.


Koshien stadium and Babe Ruth

When you walk into the large bowl of Koshien Stadium it is an impressive sight. It is the oldest ballpark in Japan, and when it was opened in 1924, with a capacity of 55,000, it was the largest stadium in Asia. At its peak it could hold 80,000 fans.

Today it has a capacity of just under 48,000. The number of seats was reduced after repairs and improvements to the ground (and to make the stadium barrier-free) following the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

Koshien Stadium - home to the Hanshin Tigers

Koshien Stadium - home to the Hanshin Tigers

The legendary American player Babe Ruth played an exhibition game at Koshien during his tour of Japan in 1934. A statue outside the front of the stadium, near the ticket office, commemorates his visit, providing a popular photo opportunity.


Torakkii & Rakkii – the lucky Tiger mascots

As you might expect, most fans wear copies of their team's strip, resulting here in a sea of black and white stripes accented by yellow trim, often topped off with black baseball caps. The team also have a mascot. Or, more accurately, two mascots.

A male tiger called Torakkii, and a female tiger named Rakkii.

Torakkii (his name is a compound of 'tiger' and 'lucky' or 'lucky tiger') is quite a character. Skipping round the perimeter of the ballpark, cheering his team, keeping fans entertained whenever the pitch action lulls.

Occasionally being refreshingly cheeky, and trying to gain the affections of girlfriend Rakkii ('lucky').

Hanshin Tigers Fans at Koshien Stadium

Hanshin Tigers Fans at Koshien Stadium

Many students work part-time in stadiums, earning extra money acting as vendors selling food and drinks. All the staples you might expect (hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, fizzy, sugary soft drinks, beer) are available, as well as some you might not (sushi, ramen noodles, sake and whiskey).

These vendors carry large kegs of beer in packs on their backs just so you can get a cup of your favourite (sponsored) brew fresh from the pump.


Beware the screaming balloons!

Be prepared for the end of the game ceremony where tens of thousands of fans let go of thousands of screaming yellow balloon streamers.

Apparently, after the Hanshin Tigers fans tried the same thing at an away game at the Yomiuri Giants' stadium they were barred from doing it ever again. So if you want to experience the screaming balloons be sure to go to a home game.

Hanshin Tigers fans at Koshien Stadium

Hanshin Tigers fans about to let the screaming balloons go at Koshien Stadium

When should you go?

Aside from the height of summer when you might find the heat and humidity a bit too much, given that the baseball season stretches throughout most of the calendar year (end of March through to November), you can build going to a baseball game in Japan into many itineraries.


How to get to Koshien Stadium

The train station you want is called Koshien Station, on the Hanshin Dentetsu line. This is directly outside Koshien Stadium, which is quickly accessible through an underpass from the station. The Hanshin Dentetsu line runs between Osaka Umeda and Kobe.

Make sure you aim for the correct station though. The similarly-named Koshien-guchi Station on the Tokaido Main Line (also running between Osaka and Kobe) is several blocks away from the stadium, far less convenient, requiring either a lengthy walk or a taxi or bus to get to the ballpark.

Of course, when there is a game on the trains get very crowded but, like most things in public life in Japan, it's all very good-natured with rarely any trouble – even if it can be a tight squeeze. Trains are very frequent though, so you'll typically only have to wait a few minutes for the next one if you cannot get on the one in front of you.

Since train tickets in Japan are usually sold and bought as single journeys, it's a good tip when you arrive at Koshien Station to buy your return ticket before you head into the stadium.

Baseball In Japan - Family Fun

Baseball In Japan - great family fun

Even with the expected Japanese efficiency (and extra staff that are put on during games to help and guide people) there will be thousands of people trying to buy tickets on the way home, leading to some potentially daunting queues.

However, having bought your ticket in advance, you can just head straight for the platform to catch your train.

SEE ALSO: Osaka City Guide


Going to watch other teams

If it isn't convenient or possible for you to go to see the Hanshin Tigers in Kobe, or you want to see another team, there are pro teams across much of Japan that you can go to watch, and which will give you a similar experience.

Be sure to check the list of teams and websites in this post for which you can book tickets in advance.

The JapaneseBaseball.com website is an extensive resource and has a helpful page which has instructions (including maps) on how to get to the major baseball teams' stadiums.

If you have been to see the Hanshin Tigers, or any other baseball team in Japan and have any tips, recommendations or memorable stories please share your experiences by commenting below.


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  • You opened my mind by stating that the history of baseball can be traced back to the U.S. hundreds of years ago. Hopefully, this will inspire my friend to watch a game sooner or later. He seems interested to learn more about the sport during his stay in Detroit this summer.

    • Hi Sam, sometimes it takes a perspective somewhat detached from our own to make us appreciate what we have locally.

  • Hi, I got as far as purchasing my ticket for a Hanshin Tigers game in September. I got a confirmation email, logged in once, but could not find my QR ticket. When I went to the separate log in they gave me for the ticket, I could not log in. Now the initial log in from the link they sent me does not work either. Every attempt including re-submitting info, failed. There are so many hoops just to log in. I can find no customer service email that works (replying to theirs just bounces back). Completely at a loss what to do.

    • Oh no Shirley sounds like a right pain. Which website did you use? Have you tried using the links on a different device? (Maybe something got corrupted during your purchase).

  • How does one buy tickets for the all-star game in Nagoya in July?

  • Hello, I would like to find any information about Summer Koshien highschool tournament. Do you have any recommendations of how to go about going to these games ?

    • Hi Willy – good question! Looks like online ticket sales begin March 7, but tickets for pre-finals go on sale March 18. Online sales are from Ticket Pia, Lawson Tickets & something called Ko Ticke (甲チケ).

      There are also convenience store options and day-of tickets for sale too.

      Here’s what the Japan Highschool Baseball Federation website says on their ticketing page:

      All tickets will be reserved seats and will be sold in advance. Ticket Pia, Lawson Ticket, and Kou-Ticket (甲チケ) sales sites will be on sale from 10:00 on March 7. Convenience stores 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Ministop will be on sale from March 9. It will be on sale from 10:00. In addition, tickets will be sold on the day at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium window only if there are seats remaining. Please note that if all tickets are sold out online, tickets will not be sold at convenience stores or at Hanshin Koshien Stadium counters.

      There’s more information (including links to online booking) on the Japan Highschool Baseball Federation website here: https://www-jhbf-or-jp.translate.goog/senbatsu/2023/ticket/?_x_tr_sl=ja&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en-US&_x_tr_pto=wapp (Google translated) or if you read Japanese, here’s the original site: https://www.jhbf.or.jp/senbatsu/2023/ticket/

  • looking at the 2023 covid policy on the giants website, anyone entering japan within 14 days of being abroad is not allowed entrance. are they checking passports at the gate? how is this enforced? it also states no cheering or standing, are the crowds truly sitting in silence? ive been waiting to years to see a game but will i be getting the real experience? thank you!

  • Hey, this website saved the day. Though the baseball tickets don’t seem to be on sale? Hmmm wonder if they are not open yet. Thanks!

    • Good to hear my post saved you Colin! Tickets aren’t constantly on sale as far as I know. So there may be times when you can get hold of them. Wait and keep checking and you’ll find when they do go on sale. (Also even though I’ve linked to some official team sites – a handful are not actually working at the moment. Terrible user experience!)

  • What a true thill for me Rob. Attending a ball game in Japan is a bucket list item for me because it’d be cool to see baseball enjoyed in a different culture. On a side note, being a huge basketball fan, more Japanese players are reaching Division 1 hoops in the USA and one Japanese hooper even made the NBA which is so neat.


    • I think you might just love experiencing it in Japan Ryan – they’re crazy passionate about it. Didn’t know about the Japanese basketball players, but knew some baseball and football (soccer) players are making their mark outside of Japan.

  • Thank you so much for this impressive write up! Does anywhere listed here feature women’s baseball? We’ve just started playing in Australia and I’d love to support some women’s baseball when we visit Japan in 2024.

  • Eric Larsen says:

    I spent a week trying to find baseball information on the internet. Most of was in Japanese, and what was in English wanted to sell me things as a middle man. I’m so glad I found your blog!

    So much information, organized in one place. I’ll be sure to use this post when I’m booking my trip to Japan next spring.

    • That’s great to hear Eric. So pleased I was able to help with your planning.

      Feel free to get in touch nearer the time if you have any oustanding questions.

  • Regina Rianelli says:

    #Konnichiwa, #RobDyer #san,

    #Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

    I would like to see an Article of Places for doing #VolunteerWork with the elderly in Japan…
    I have watched at #NHK_TV a report on the #MinkaCountryside where people gather and teach elderlies to do some Art, embroidery, bags to place at the head of their beds where they place their medicine caps, some remote control, note books and stuff all in one place and others paint the cloth that are sew by some Volunteers.
    Of course there are Nurses and Therapists supervising the pro-bono work at these places that are like #Minka, or #Cabans, or so…. after the material is ready, it’s taken to the #Homes where these elderlies live; it might be subsidized by the Japanese Government, not sure, because I just got started studying Japanese and could not understand all that was said at the report at #NHK_TV…

    All I know is that all it’s done with #Love and everything which is produced are destined to the #ElderlyClients with #no_costs to the recipientes with a true #smile and the atmosphere is so full of Joy !

    These #activities sure help both the elderlies and the Volunteers get so energized after their #pro-bono work that it would be great to being able to join in and TAKE PART once or twice times if you have a couple weeks in Japan.

    As a result, you would go back Home with so much Joy in your heart and take along pictures that will make you smile for many years to come…

    Regina Rianelli

    P.S.: Photos by Creative Commons

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