There is no better venue to experience Japanese baseball than a Hanshin Tigers game at Koshien Stadium. Hanshin Tigers are known to be enthusiastic supporters and fiercely defensive of their team, which makes for a great atmosphere.
You can participate in the orchestrated crowd cheers, watch the entertaining mid-innings shows and eat plenty of Japanese food and drink; and lets not forget there is a baseball game to watch! With a little preparation before the game day, you can guarantee a great day out at the ball game.
When Games are On, How to Get Tickets
The most up-to-date game schedule is on the Hanshin Tigers website (Japanese only). Look for the game days with the kanji for Koshien Stadium (甲子園).
You can purchase tickets from a number of websites such as the Hanshin Tiger English website. However, if you are feeling adventurous, try buying your own ticket from a convenience store in Japan (such as Lawson or 7-11). The photocopier machines in these stores are used to purchase tickets. Unfortunately these are Japanese-only menus, however store clerks are generally happy to assist (ask for baseball tickets with the following phrase “Yakyū no chiketto kudasai”.
The booths at the stadium where you can purchase tickets on the day, or purchase tickets for future games.
You can also purchase tickets at the stadium if you are willing to take a risk that the tickets may be sold out (popular games such as Tigers vs. Giants sell out quickly).
Ticket prices start from ¥1900 for outfield seats (weekday games) and up to ¥4800 for 'Ivy' seating (weekend games).
How to Get to Koshien Stadium
People walking to game
Koshien Station only a short walk from the Stadium. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach this station from Umeda (via the Hanshin Limited Express) or Namba (via the Hanshin Rapid Express). Alternatively you can also reach the Station from Kobe/Sannomiya Station in 25 minutes (via the Hanshin Limited Express).
What to Bring
Prior to the game, you can now choose to prepare as much or as little as you would like. For a truly local experience, buy a beer and bento box from a stall or convenience store outside the venue. Wear clothing with the team colours (either yellow and black or white and black). Pick up some team merchandise such as a scarf or a fan, these are practical items that can be used on the day and double up as portable souvenirs. But most importantly, make sure you pick up some of the long yellow balloons sold at stalls outside the venue (around ¥300).
redlegsfan21 on Flickr
Baseball field at sunset
What to Look Out for During the Game
After all that, you are ready to enjoy the game! Take a breathe and look around you: you are likely to be surrounded by groups of fans wearing Hanshin Tiger colours (or even a full tiger costume!) and can witness the brass band and cheer squad leading chants in support of their team. Try ordering a beer from one of the women carrying the beer kegs and keep your eyes peeled for the mascot that does summersaults.
Remember those long yellow balloons you bought? When people around you start blowing up similar balloons, do the same – don't tie it up and wait for the signal!
As the Game Wraps Up
If the game is close, you may notice a change in the atmosphere as Hanshin Tiger fans live up to their reputation and become rowdy (by Japanese standards). Once the game ends, gather your rubbish and prepare yourself for the most orderly exit from the stadium you will experience. If the crowds are too much for you, feel free to hang back and wait. You may even want to try one of the izakayas (small Japanese bars) around Koshien Stadium.
There you have it, an action-packed day at the baseball game awaits you!