The Tokyo area hosts five professional teams: Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Saitama Seibu Lions, Chiba Lotte Marines and Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
Japan’s most popular ball club, the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, often attracts large crowds. The Giants play most of their home games at Tokyo Dome, which seats more than 45,000 and is located in Central Tokyo.
The Tokyo Yakult Swallows, also in Central Tokyo, have an enthusiastic group of fans who turn up regularly at Meiji Jingu Stadium, Tokyo’s oldest and most traditional ballpark. The Swallows fans’ trademark is a small, green vinyl umbrella which they open and wave in unison whenever the team scores.
About 40 minutes west of Tokyo, the Saitama Seibu Lions play at the MetLife Dome, a covered amphitheater in the suburban city of Tokorozawa. It takes a while to get there from Tokyo, but the train ride is scenic, and the Seibu Railways terminal station is right outside the center field gates.
On the other side of Japan’s capital city, the Chiba Lotte Marines play on the Tokyo Bay waterfront at ZOZO Marine Stadium. The Lotte cheering section has a reputation of being one of the most enthusiastic in Japan, which helps them keep warm when the marine fog and wind roll in!
The Yokohama DeNA Baystars play in the centrally located Yokohama Stadium in the city’s Chinatown district. The ballpark is right across the street from Japan Railways Kannai Station, two stops from Yokohama central and about a 35-minute train ride from Tokyo. Yokohama Stadium is a favorite among JapanBall tour members.
Japan’s newest team is the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, based in the city of Sendai, about a one-hour-and 40-minute bullet train ride from Tokyo. Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi takes a more modern approach, with attractions and technology incorporated into the gameday experience
The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters represent Japan’s northernmost island and play most home games at the massive, multipurpose Sapporo Dome in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city. The team moved there from Tokyo in 2004 and still plays about eight home games each season in the Tokyo Dome. Sapporo is a one-hour flight from Tokyo.
Kansai Region (South-Central Japan):
Kyocera Dome Osaka, resembling a space ship, is the home of the Orix Buffaloes, who also play a handful of home games at Hotto Motto Field in Kobe. The Osaka Dome, inside the city’s railway Loop Line, is easy to access and is served by two train lines and a subway.
Also representing the Osaka area is Japan’s second most popular team, the Hanshin Tigers. Historic Koshien Stadium can be thought of as Japan’s Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. To boot, a Tigers – Giants match-up is like going to see the Boston Red Sox at home against the New York Yankees. The Tigers fans in the right field stands are the most boisterous anywhere in the world.
The Chunichi Dragons play in Nagoya, a large city and major bullet train stop between Tokyo and Osaka. The Nagoya Dome was opened in 1997 and is your standard domed ballpark. An adjacent mall lets you get some shopping in on gameday!
The Hiroshima Toyo Carp play in Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium, Japan’s newest ballpark, opened in 2009 alongside the Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train tracks. It is one of the few asymmetrical stadiums in Japan and gives a great view of the field surrounding area.
Playing in Fukuoka PayPay Dome, Japan’s only retractable domed stadium, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks are the only NPB club based on the southern island of Kyushu. The Sadaharu Oh Museum, a pilgrimage for any baseball fan, is located on the same grounds as the ballpark. Fukuoka is a five-and-a-half-hour bullet train ride or an hour-and-a-half flight from Tokyo.