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Baseball is a sport born in America, and it was introduced to Japan in 1871.
Since the begining of the 20th century, many baseball teams were born in universities and high schools, so baseball became a very popular sport.

Professional baseball was born in 1920.
Until the 1950s the popurality of student baseball is higher than it, but because star players of universities joined professional teams on after another, it has gained popularity.
Currently it is no exaggeration to say that baseball is a national sports in Japan.

Professional baseball

Nagoya Dome studium There are 2 professional leagues as Japanese professional baseball, and each league has 6 teams.
Every year each team scheduled to play 144 games from late March to the beginning of October.
After that there are post-season games for top teams, then finally a top team of the league take on the other league's top team in the "Japan Series".

Every team name contains the name of owner company unlike American major leagues.
Originally each professional baseball teams has been owened by a company.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (newspaper) and Nippon Television affiliated with the Yomiuri have broadcasted many games of Giants on a nationwide basis.
So many people far from any baseball stadium were able to watch professional baseball games.
However, it has gotten into a situation that most Japanese people are Giants fans.

Since the 1990th, some teams have moved from big cities to local main cities, so concentration of popularity on a team is dispersing.

Recently several star players have transferred to the U.S. major leagues, and they make their marks in it.

Professional baseball teams of Japan
Central League Pacific League
Team name Home city Owner Team name Home city Owner
Yomiuri Giants Tokyo Newspaper Hokkaido Nippon-ham Fighters Sapporo Meat processing company
Tokyo Yakult Swallows Tokyo Beverage manufacturer Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Sendai Internet portal site company
Yokohama DeNA BayStars Yokohama Internet portal site company Saitama Seibu Lions Tokorozawa
(Saitama pref.)
Holding company of a railroad and hotels
Chunichi Dragons Nagoya Newspaper Chiba Lotte Marines Chiba Holding company of confectionery maker
Hanshin Tigers Nishinomiya
(Hyogo pref.)
Railroad company Orix Buffaloes Osaka Leasing company
Hiroshima Toyo Carp Hiroshima Automaker Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Fukuoka Mobile and internet service company

Student Baseball

In Japan, there are many children who begin to play baseball at elementary school days.
Children who want to play in earnest join a team of local Little League.

Most junior high schools, senior high schools and universities have baseball clubs.
Many pupils and students join the club.

Especially in March and August, All-Japan Senior High School Baseball Championship Tournaments are held, and all games of them hit screens.
It is held since 1915, many strong teams around Japan participate and the plays are high-level.
So it has great popularity.
Additionally some players become professional after graduation.

The baseball of university is not so popular as senior high school.
Commonly 6 teams in same region make up a league, and several leagues are in Japan.
The some leagues in Tokyo or Osaka have a long history, so many players who were active in senior high school join the teams.
Of course, some players become professional after graduation.

Result of Japanese team in international competitions

  • Olympics :
    Los Angels (1984,Demonstration) Gold medal / Seoul (1988,Demonstration) Silver medal /
    Barcelona (1992) Bronze madal / Atlanta (1996) Silver medal /
    Sydney (2000) 4th place / Athens (2004) Bronze medal / Beijing (2008) 4th place
  • Asian Baseball Championship (Recently biennial, 1954-2007) :
    Champion 14 times, Runners-up 9 times, 3rd place 1 time
  • The World Baseball Classic (2006, U.S) : Champion, (2009, U.S) : Champion

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