Hanshin Koshien Stadium
Catch some local baseball fervor at the oldest baseball stadium in Japan.
Don’t limit your sightseeing in Japan to temples and gardens. Carve out half a day of your itinerary to fit in a visit to the oldest stadium in Japan, catch a baseball game and soak in even more culture.
Hanshin Koshien Stadium is an iconic sports mecca in the Kansai Region. As you’ll learn, baseball is just as undeniably a part of the Japanese psyche as zen and sushi. Electric atmosphere, passionate cheering, top-notch sporting skills – there is simply nothing like catching a game on the hallowed grounds of Koshien.
The fans, the beer
An easy train or bus ride from Osaka or Kobe, the ivy-walled stadium is located in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The local team is the Hanshin Tigers from Osaka, famous for having an extremely loyal (and boisterous) fan following.
Whether you choose to sit in the shade in the grandstand, or on the bleachers close to the supporters, you’re sure to be riveted by the atmosphere. The approximately 47,000 capacity stadium is almost always full. On the right side of the stadium sit the raucous but very systematic home supporters, methodically bellowing out rhythmic chants composed for every batsman on the team. When the opposing team comes in to bat, all passions are respectfully reined in. It’s now time for the away supporters, who sit on the left of the field, to belt out their support.
On the 7th innings stretch, you’ll suddenly find your neighbors abuzz…whipping out and blowing up balloons. Join in with the crowd, and on cue at the end of a chant, release the balloons – a fun local tradition.
This is the undisputed spiritual home of Japanese baseball. Built in 1924, Koshien Stadium is the oldest baseball stadium in Japan, and more importantly, the National High School Baseball Championship is held here every summer. This fiercely competed tourney is the largest amateur sports event in the country.
Koshien is embellished in the minds and hearts of all Japanese baseball fans as the place where dreams are fulfilled, or shattered. The black soil of Koshien turf is reverential for the sweaty, teary-eyed young players, who scoop up handfuls of this turf at the end of their games, as souvenirs of their time on hallowed ground.
For the baseball aficionados, there’s a museum tabulating the stadiums history and some of the great players who started their careers here. Make a day of it and book a 50-minute tour to see some of the bullpen, dugout and locker areas.
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