Baseball is big in Japan. For many, it is the sport which defines the summer. Games are played several times a week from April to September. Kansai, with 2 teams, is well represented. Far and away the most popular are the legendary Hanshin Tigers who play in the Central League. The other team is the Orix Buffaloes who play in the Pacific League.
The Tigers play at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya (approx half way between Osaka and Kobe. Location is 34.721342,135.361615). Built in 1924 and with a capacity of 48,000, it is one of the oldest stadiums in Japan, and is something of a Mecca for baseball fans.
The Hanshin fans have a well-deserved reputation as being the liveliest in Japan. They can be incredibly boisterous. One highlight is the end of the seventh inning, when the Hanshin Tigers song is enthusiastically sung and then followed by a mass release of thousands of balloons.
It can be tricky to get a ticket at the best of times. Early in the season, tickets are usually available before the game. It’s best to book in advance for later games, especially if the team is doing well. Ask our volunteer guide for more details.
Even if you can’t get a ticket, it is worth savouring the pre match build-up outside the ground. Then, why not watch the game in a nearby izikaya (Japanese pub) before returning to the stadium to witness the celebrations should the team win. It isn’t unusual for fans to congregate in large groups outside, and sing, dance and party for up to an hour after the game (especially if victory comes at the hands of the detested Yomiuri Giants from Tokyo)!
In addition, every August Koshien plays host to a month long high school tournament. This receives massive media coverage nationwide, and it is well worth attending, especially in the latter stages.
Kansai’s other team, the Orix Blue Wave were formed in 2005. They play out of Kobe’s Skymark Stadium and Osaka’s Kyocera Dome Osaka (Location: 34.669332,135.476017). Kyocera Dome is sometimes used for the Tigers home game. Tickets price 1900 yen for the outfield side seats and 2500 yen for the infield side.
Access to the stadiums : Koshien stadium -You take Hanshin Line from Umeda to Koshien station. | Kyocera Dome – Take JR line from Osaka to Taisho station.
Team’s websites : Hanshin Tigers http://hanshintigers.jp/ | Orix Buffaloes http://www.buffaloes.co.jp/