Hello baseball fans! Have you ever wanted to watch a Hanshin Tigers game in Japan? Here are my tips to get the most out of your experience:
- Arrive early; Check out the Museum & the Shrine
Koshien Stadium is located on the Hanshin Line, between Nishinomiya and Amagasaki. Don’t get confused by the JR stop Koshien-guchi. You’ll know you’re heading the right way when everyone on your train is decked in yellow & black.
I recommend arriving at least an hour before the game begins. If it’s an evening game, arriving in the early afternoon is great, because you can check out the Koshien History Museum. Not only is it a great museum, with history about the team and the summer high school tournament, but you can also arrange to sit behind first base and watch the players practice. Don’t forget to visit the Shinto shrine nearby and pick up a Koshien-themed charm for good luck.
- Hit up the Daiei
There are many food stalls set up outside the grounds and inside the stadium, but if you want to be a real “Kansai-jin,” do what the locals do: Stop at the large Daiei supermarket just to the right of the west exit. On the basement floor you can buy a bento, snacks, beer, and even balloons (we’ll get to those in a second!) for a fraction of the stadium price. Once loaded up on goodies, head to your seat. Cans and plastic bottles are not allowed inside, but fret not– that 6-pack of beer you bought with your friends? Helpful Koshien staff are more than willing to assist you in pouring it into provided paper cups. They’ll even give you a cup holder.
- Sit in Right Outfield
For the best experience, I recommend choosing seats in the right outfield (ライト外野) which is known as the cheering section, and has the added benefit of being the cheapest seats available. The left outfield is traditionally the visitor’s section, but Hanshin fans always outnumber the opposition at Koshien. If you want a more chill baseball experience, the 1st and 3rd base Alps seats are also very nice seats, with great views of the action.
If you want to purchase some gear, the best thing you can get are bats. Trust me on this one: You will feel like you are missing out without them. The cheapest are around 800JPY and are well-worth it. Bonus Tip: If you never attend another Tigers game ever again, it makes a fun souvenir and you can even use it in the classroom. I bring in a set to tap the desks of my sleeping students.
For the truly devoted, there is an incredible assortment of jerseys, caps, towels, tails, ears, and other memorabilia. Many Hanshin fans customize their jerseys with decorative patches and logos.
Learn a Cheer & Don’t Forget Your Balloons
On your way to your seats, pick up a Player Cheer booklet so you can cheer and clap along with the fans. Remember those balloons you picked up at Daiei? Shortly before the 7th inning, you will see everyone in the stands begin to blow up these long balloons. The seventh inning stretch is known as “Lucky Seven” and after a quick rendition of the Tigers theme song, everyone lets fly their balloons all over the stadium. It is quite a sight to see! The balloons come in packs of 4, but be sure to save one in case the Tigers win!
Follow these tips and you’ll be a Hanshin pro in no time. I hope to see you at a game! If you missed the HAJET event sign-up, we do have a wait-list going, so check out the Facebook event page.