A Hanshin Tigers Game at Koshien Stadium

 Originally built to host the national high school baseball tournaments, Koshien Stadium opened in 1924, making it one of the oldest in the nation.
 Now, of course, it's the home of the Hanshin Tigers, one of the oldest teams in Japanese baseball. They have called Koshien their home since 1936, and high school tournaments and the championships are still played here. In fact, the high school games have scheduling priority over the Tigers games, so tournaments can cause rescheduling of Hanshin games.
 There are several plaques on the outside wall near the plaza area on the first base side. Here's one for the Tigers winning a championship of some kind. I didn't see any information about it but those who know more about NPB history can probably date this. I'm guessing its from the 1985 Japan Series.
 This one is of the stadium itself, prior to repairs completed in the past decade or so. The Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995 (known as the Kobe Earthquake) did some damage to the stadium, and it took about a decade before good plans were created; the improvements and repairs were completed in 2010. The ivy was preserved, the infield is still dirt, and the grass is still natural. But they changed the roof and reduced seating capacity, in addition to repairing the damage from the earthquake.

Also outside are several plaques honoring retired Tigers:

 Out in the plaza, not attached to the stadium, are two larger plaques. One of them commemorates Babe Ruth's appearance at the stadium in 1934, during one of the MLB tours of Japan.

There's a Koshien Stadium Museum, which is certainly worth checking out. Unfortunately, I didn't. That makes at least two museums I've missed, including the Sadaharu Oh Museum in Fukuoka.
 The stadium is beautiful, though, especially following an afternoon rainshower.
 Afternoon rainshowers also bring rainbows!
 Another shot. Koshien is the golden stadium, I suppose. The end of the rainbow is almost at home plate.
 This gives you a view of the scoreboard and outfield seating. The seats are wider since the renovation, but there are no backs here. I spent almost all of the game in the seats, enjoying the game itself. I didn't really get out and explore, though I'm not sure how much is possible. The renovations might have made the stadium more accessible, but Japan has proven to be quite strict when it comes to moving around inside many of the ballparks.
I must have gone on an off-day. Yes, the stadium was packed, and the fans were quite into the game. But it wasn't as crazy and violent as others have said, and the cheering at other stadiums on busy days has been just as exciting. In fact, the Carp fans were more into the game in Hiroshima than the Tigers fans on my visit to Koshien, believe it or not. And last year's Golden Eagles game had a really great crowd.

Access is quite simple; take a Hanshin Main Line train to Koshien Station. Coming from Umeda Station (essentially Osaka's main station) express trains take only 12 minutes and local trains take 22 minutes. From there, it's a couple minute walk south; the stadium is literally just past the expressway overpass, which runs within meters of the stadium. Be sure to buy your return train ticket before leaving the station, because lines will be long on the way home. Or use a Suica or other pre-paid train fare card. Tickets should be bought well before the game, especially for weekend and holiday games, but same-day tickets are usually available on weekdays. Remember that you can buy tickets at convenience stores all over Japan, though you'll probably need assistance from a Japanese speaker. Employees have been willing to help when they aren't busy.


  1. Just another item on my bucket list ;-)

    1. I feel like I need to visit the Japanese parks again, though, because I always discover something new when writing up my posts. Having visited all 12 parks though was an amazing joy, and I'm still surprised I managed to pull it off.

  2. Great pictures. I can't wait to get there someday.

    You are correct that the one plaque is for the 1985 champs. The retired Tigers plaques are for the three numbers that the Tigers have retired - Yoshio Yoshida (#23), Minoru Murayama (#11) and Fumio Fujimura (#10). The other plaque on the plaza is for Tomoaki Kanemoto.

    There's a replica of the Babe Ruth plaque at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore.

    I have one question about the facilities at the stadium - I got the impression from a post of Deanna Rubin's a few years back that all the restrooms features the "traditional" toilets, at least for the outfield seats. Was that your experience as well?

    1. Thanks! I love shooting stadiums, especially with my new camera (I didn't get to use on this trip). Thanks for the details on the players on the plaques. I'm guessing you knew all of that without checking, though I think all of it's on the Tigers' Wikipedia page and I know I have it on one of my spreadsheets.

      Despite all these adventures in Japan, I really want to go back to the States and have some more American experiences, especially baseball from DC to NYC.

      As I just commented above, I feel like I should get to know the stadiums even more, both for my own enjoyment and to provide more details to those who want to know, like you. I don't remember ever leaving my seat from the time I sat down at the start of the game until the end of the ninth inning. And I don't think I used the bathrooms, either - if I did it was standing at a urinal. If Deanna visited before the renovations were finished, the experience might be different today. I have only had to use a squat toilet two or three times in Japan.

    2. The only ballpark I went to last year that I saw a "traditional" toilet at was Jingu. And it wasn't the only type of toilet available. They may have some at the other ballparks but I didn't notice them (those games were much busier so stalls were occupied).

      I've seen bathrooms at several places (Narita airport for one) where there is a choice of commode. Are there really people who prefer the squat ones?

    3. I see plenty of places with choices between squat and regular. And I think some people prefer squat. It's supposed to be cleaner and healthier. For the few times I've had to use it (Taiwan and Korea being other places) I'll somewhat agree. The act is much more comfortable and I don't have to touch anything. On the other hand, getting into and staying in position isn't easy for the untrained. I've had to use a pipe or something as a handle to keep from falling in. Washing my hands after that was top priority. At one place in Korea - I think a train or subway station - the only western toilet was the handicapped one.