The Japanese, however, take a different approach. They want to forget their worries, forget their jobs, and have some fun! Which is why, taking in a game or match whilst you are in Japan is an unforgettable (and very different) experience.
Picture this: It's the beginning of the match. The away team comes onto the field. Do the home team hiss? Boo? No! With the encouragement of their mascot, they help the away fans sing their anthem! As they say, only in JapanÖ
From being ringside at a Sumo tournament, sitting with the cheer squad at a football match or watching the cars go round and round at the F1, there really is something for everyone.
However, watching sport in Japan is not just a sporting experience. It is a rare opportunity to see the Japanese letting their collective hair down. Itís also a great opportunity to meet people and have a cracking time. Donít know the rules? Donít worry; youíre not the only one! When everyone stands, you stand. When everyone cheers, you cheer. Got it? Easy! Game on!
The most popular sport in Japan by far is baseball. Introduced by the Americans in the early 20th ecntury and taken to heart by the Japanese almost immediately, hundreds of thousands attend games on a daily basis. Japanese fans are like no others and tickets to the big game are certainly a great addition to any trip.
Sumo is the traditional sport of Japan and if this is a must for you we can offer tickets to the six annual tournaments or the chance to visit a stable for early morning traning.
For all the details on the full range of sporting experiences on offer from InsideJapan Tours, choose from the options below. And if you don't see what you are looking for here, please drop us a line to ask.
Professional baseball began in Japan in the 1920s. The first league, the Japanese Baseball League, was established in 1936 and comprised of 7 teams. The current league, the Nippon (Japan) Professional Baseball League, took over in 1950. The League is comprised of 12 teams playing in 2 leagues, the Pacific and Central Leagues.
Teams in Japan are primarily known by the company that owns the franchise, as opposed to the area they come from. Thus we have the Rakuten (Internet Shopping Company) Golden Eagles in Sendai and the Nippon Ham (Meatpackers) Fighters in Hokkaido.
The NPB is recognised as being second best league in the world after the Major League in the US. Many Japanese players have gone on to play in the MLB; Hideki Matsui (New York Yankees), Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) have all gone on to become big hits (no pun intended!) in the US.
However, seeing a game in Japan is a very different experience. It's not so much beer and hot dogs than green tea and bentos (but don't worry, you can still get beer!). The American writer Robert Whiting wrote in his 1977 book The Chrysanthemum and the Bat that "The Japanese view of life, stressing group identity, cooperation, hard work, respect for age, seniority and 'face' has permeated almost every aspect of the sport. Americans who come to play in Japan quickly realize that Baseball Samurai Style is different." While others have objected to characterizing the sport in these terms, many Japanese players and managers describe themselves this way.
Whilst the Japanese game is of a high standard, the game itself at times can be almost secondary as you get lost in the excitement of the crowd. It seems that everyone has handclappers, giant foam hands and balloons. We recommend sitting behind either the 1st or 3rd bases - this is where the most vocal supporters sit, and all the fun takes place! Over 70% of Japan support the Yomiuri (Newspaper) Giants. They are regarded as the Manchester United or New York Yankees of Japanese baseball, due to their popularity, dominance of the league and the fact that they poach all the best players. Of course, at InsideJapan we support the Chunichi (Newspaper) Dragons from our Japanese home Nagoya. However, we also like the Hanshin (Department Store) Tigers and the Toyo (Mazda) Carp. Seeing a game of yakyu (the Japanese name comes from the characters for field and ball) is a truly enjoyable day out. Batter up!
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The season starts in late March/early April and runs until October.
Teams are spread out from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu.
The best places to catch a game are Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe and Hiroshima.
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