{Japan: Explore} Watching a Baseball Game in Japan


Hanshin Tigers’ Koshien Stadium

In a Nutshell:

  • Who: L and M
  • When: May 30, 2012
  • Where: Koshien Stadium near Kobe to watch the Hanshin Tigers vs. Chiba Lotte Marines
  • *Notes: purchased tickets from travel agent, Ivy Seats (4000 JPY each), Hanshin line from Umeda Station (800 JPY per person)

Full Report:

I should tell you, right off the bat, that I’m not a huge sports fan.  I’m sure part of the reason is that I am terrible at all sports, I can’t catch or throw a ball to save my life — shoot, I can hardly even bounce one up and down without it rolling away within seconds.  So when M said he really wanted to watch a baseball game during our trip to Japan I wanted to tell him, “No way!”  But then I remembered how he had so kindly taken me to the Celine Dion concert the last time we were in Las Vegas and I figured I owed him.  (He is really really really NOT a Celine Dion fan!)

I’m not sure how he decided on the Hanshin Tigers/Chiba Lotte Marines game out of all the available games during our trip, I had completely left the planning of this up to him.  Or rather he insisted on organizing it since he was probably afraid I would accidentally-on-purpose forget to get tickets!   We purchased the tickets through our travel agent and she had a contact in Osaka drop it off for us at our hotel (Osaka Hilton).


We got the Ivy Seats on the first base side, costing 4000 JPY apiece.  There are four tiers of seats at Koshien Stadium, the best being the green, then the Ivy Seats, then the Alps, and finally, the outfield seats.

To get to Koshien Stadium from Osaka we took the Hanshin line from the Umeda Station which is a short walk over from the JR Osaka Station.  Our JR passes didn’t work on this particular line so we had to buy train tickets.  There were special ticket dispensers just to buy round-trip tickets to Koshien Stadium costing 800 JPY.  The train station was SO crowded and it seemed like practically everyone was heading to Koshien, like us.

Once we disembarked at the Koshien stop, we just followed everyone else and in seconds we were in front of the stadium:

There were bunches of stalls set up outside of the stadium selling all kinds of Tigers’ memorabilia.  I made sure to get a pack of balloons.  On an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations I learned that everyone blows up these phallic looking balloons during the 7th inning and then lets them all go at once.  I was actually really looking forward to doing this!

I saw the cutest dog before we went into the stadium:

We went in and our seats turned out to be pretty decent:

I think the last time I watched baseball was when I went to a Dodgers game waaaay back in college but, surprisingly, I still remembered all the rules and even more surprisingly I was having a lot of fun!  It really helped that all the fans were super enthusiastic and to make it more exciting, they were constantly breaking out in song.  Of course, I didn’t know any of the words but it was good times, nonetheless.

Around the end of the fifth inning, we started getting hungry so we set out to get our grub on.  We checked out a number of eateries before we decided on some chicken kushiage and beer:

Mmmm, the chicken kushiage turned out to be really good.  However, they weren’t really filling so we decided to get the most traditional of baseball meals: a hot dog!

I hate to say this but the hot dog was not good at all.  For one thing, the cheese on top was cold!  Actually that was pretty much the dealbreaker.  I don’t even remember how the rest of the hot dog was, nothing could overcome the huge blobs of cold cheese.  I really hate wasting food so I tried to convince M to eat the rest but he begged off saying that he was really full from the chicken kushiages —- yeah, right!

Back to our seats we went and we were just in time to see a relief pitcher being brought to the field via cart:

Then the moment I had been waiting for arrived: 7th inning!!!  Everyone took out their balloons and started blowing them up:

And then we let them go all at once!

Yes, that was the funnest part of the whole game!  After that, it felt kinda anticlimactic so M and I headed to the gift shop to get some souvenirs for his cousins.  We found some shot glasses for one cousin who collects them but, oddly enough, the cashier told us that we couldn’t buy them until the game was over.  As it turned out, we stayed in that shop quite a while because the game went into extra innings and ended in a tie, 9-9.  In Japan, if the game is tied at the end of the 9th inning, they will only go an extra 3 innings to allow one of the teams to score.  If it’s still a tie at the end of the 12th inning, then it’s considered a draw.

After we purchased the shot glasses and a keychain, we made our way to the Koshien station to board a train back to Osaka.  As the game had just ended, it was super crowded:

We ended up taking a non-Express train because, of course, everyone wanted to get on an Express one.  On the way back, M told me he was starving, I knew he was lying to me about the chicken kushiages!  But, I very nicely did not bring this up, and we ended up going out for Ippudo ramen once back in Osaka.  Which I will definitely write about in another blog post!