A trip to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame

Not just for the NPB, the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame honors important names in all aspects of Japan's baseball history. Start by entering the glass doors, paying your admission, and heading downstairs.
 The first exhibit has display cases for each NPB team.
 Cases hold memorabilia from several famous players from the team.
 Alex Ramirez's bat is on display, to which he added "zekkocho!!"
 Passing through, NPB's history and its greats are on display.
 This patch is from the early days of professional baseball: the NPBL Leading Hitter award for the 1937 autumn season.
 Sadaharu Oh, the Babe Ruth of Japan, has his own display case.
 Several other stars receive equal treatment, though.
 More autographed bats are on display... Ye, that's Randy Bass.
 Old awards and equipment are scattered out among the cases.
 The museum framed an old poster.
 Photos and materials from defunct teams show the beginnings of the NPB.
 More awards. More equipment.
 This plaque sat outside Korakuen Stadium, where Tokyo Dome and the museum is today.
 Ikuhara is a member of the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame because he was an assistant to Walter O'Malley with the LA Dodgers for several decades.
 Other nods to US baseball show up here and there. This base signed by Rickey Henderson notes Fukumoto's record of 1065 stolen bases - Henderson passed him in June of 1993.
 US players have traveled to Japan several times - here are a pair of jerseys from an old competition.
 Those really familiar with Japanese baseball should recognize this image.
 US teams over the years on signed baseballs. Babe Ruth is in there at least once.
 One display case had old trading cards - these had their original packaging.
 Karuta is a matching game. This deck has baseball players, and the characters are hiragana characters that match the romanji sounds. I'd love to have a full set of these.
 Here's a different view so you can see more of the cards.
 Once you get past the NPB exhibits, things turn unprofessional. Namely, college, high school, and little league.
 These rubber balls are called kenko balls, and are used in little leagues in Japan. They're softer, safer, and probably more durable in wetter weather.
 Japan is proud of any victories, including the Cal Ripken World Series.
 There was a small display of women's paraphernalia, including the national team jersey and some professional baseball jerseys.
 These are from the Girls Professional Baseball League, which has been renamed the Japan Women's Baseball League; there are now four teams in the league with completely different names and color schemes.
 Once you've finished with the non-NPB exhibits, you move into the actual Hall of Fame.
 Each honoree has a plaque, similar to the MLB HOF plaque, with a description of his accomplishments below. The card below the plaque has an English translation of the text on the plaque.
 A few plaques have an egg shape as they are special honorees instead of real members of the Hall of Fame. This is Lefty O'Doul, who helped make baseball popular in Japan. The Tokyo Giants are named such because of his involvement with the New York Giants.

The Hall of Fame members include NPB stars, team owners, college and high school stars, and managers from teams at all levels. Really, anyone associated with any field related to Japanese baseball can be found in the museum, which makes collecting cards of all the members impossible. I spent a lot of time photographing each plaque because some members don't even have readily available photos online.
 After leaving the Hall, a simple case displays the JWBL current jerseys and caps.
 There's also an autographed baseball on display. The league is young but barnstorms around Japan. And Japan loves women's sports much more than America does.
 Moving on, a three-dimensional mural is the highlight of a resting area.
 Tired museum attendees can sit in seats from old stadiums and watch baseball programming on the TV. I saw some of a high school or college game while I was there.
 Bullpen carts are cool.
 There is an interactive area, with a digital batting cage to test your hitting ability against great NPB pitchers. I was not successful at this game, and neither was anyone else I saw taking cuts.
 If you've ever wondered how a baseball is made, in Japanese, you can find out here!
 They had balls from several leagues.
 There was a lot of other equipment on display, including this home plate and pitching rubber.
 The museum has a special exhibition room, and with the WBC being held just before my visit last year, it was packed with souvenirs from the prior competitions.
 Game used base from 2009.
 And a lineup card signed by Sadaharu Oh, with Ichiro as the leadoff batter and Koji Uehara as the starting pitcher.
The display even had a few items from the 2013 competitions, including a team signed ball and several autographed cards from players of many teams.

Heading back upstairs, you can find a small museum shop (more of a display case with goods for sale at the entrance) which has pins, a few books, official baseballs, and chopsticks made from broken bats.

Overall, the museum is smaller and less exciting than the Cooperstown counterpart, but for a smaller country with fewer teams, it certainly serves its purpose.

The museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM, closing at 5 PM November through February. Admission is 500 yen, but a 100 yen discount coupon can be found on the website. The entrance is to the right of Gate 21 of Tokyo Dome, a short walk from Suidobashi, Kasuga, and Korakuen Stations.


  1. You must have gone right around the time I went.

    One minor note - those aren't trophies from the Little League World Series. They are from the Cal Ripken World Series. I only know because the tournament is held annually in Aberdeen, MD just about five miles from my house. I successfully tracked down Senichi Hoshino there a few years back. I think Sachio Kinugasa was there last summer. I'll have to start stalking him next year.

  2. I think I went soon after you left. My photo folder is dated March 27th, though I could have gone any time before that date.