There are many reasons why Japanese love baseball. Read on to find out!
You must all be well aware of Baseball, which is considered to be America’s pastime. In Japan, however, baseball is so much more than just a mere sport to while away your time. It has gained excessive popularity. The game is so loved by the Japanese that many times, they fail to notice that baseball is not their native game.
In the international scenario, the national baseball team of Japan is highly competitive. It really is a huge deal in Japan. Baseball is a game that draws a huge crowd of fans.
But, why do Japanese love baseball so much? And how did the game gain so much success in the country? Let us look at the fun relationship between Japan and baseball.
Why Is Baseball Popular in Japan
History of Baseball in Japan
Baseball has a long history in Japan. The game is known as ‘yakyuu’ in Japanese, which when translated becomes ‘field ball’. The game first arrived in Japan during the Meiji era. This was the time when the nation was bringing in a lot of Western customs and practices.
During that time, baseball was played as a sort of cooperative team play. The game played was unlike native sports such as sumo wrestling and kendo.
When baseball first arrived in the country, it did not see instant success. But after university teams cropped us across the country, the game started climbing up the ladder of success. These teams brought with them a number of rivalries that are still going strong today.
The game started gaining momentum during the post-World War II period. This was all thanks to the America GI’s who promoted the sport. The game was also popularized with the help of a series of exhibition games that were played with American baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio.
The biggest reason for the popularity of baseball in Japan was that the baseball involved discipline, hard work, and team effort. All of these features are attributed to the values so respected by the Japanese.
Incredible Baseball Experience at the Japanese Stadium
Watching a baseball match in Japan is quite an electrifying experience. It is an interactive affair with fans cheering on their team’s players in unison, along with the live brass band playing in the background. The colors of the teams are sported everywhere, from the caps and jerseys worn by the fans to rally towels, balloons, and mini-umbrellas that are waved in the air.
The lively and electric environment during a baseball match in Japan makes the experience truly unforgettable. You will love it even if you are not a huge fan of the sport. Also, with the increasing rise in the popularity, there is no way the game is going down.
During hot summers, cheering for the teams can be a difficult experience. During these times, you will see the stadiums filled with ‘uriko’, or beer girls. These girls run up and down with a bag full of chilled beer that they carry on their backs. This is another experience that makes watching baseball in Japan quite an enjoyable experience.
Japanese Baseball High School Championships
The game of baseball is also quite popular at the high school level. High school baseball players have been participating in national-level championships since 1915. These championships are held in April and August.
In the initial stages, you will see about 4,000 teams taking part. The top teams from the country’s 47 prefectures then gather in Hyogo for the 10-day Koshien tournament.
In the United States, a game of high school baseball attracts only about a few hundred people. However, the case is completely different in Japan. High school baseball games are not considered small at all. In Japan, you will see millions of spectators coming in to watch the games. These games are also broadcasted nationally.
Also, the best players attract a lot of attention nationwide. With a good game of baseball, these high school players become overnight celebrities. Players are also chosen for the professional teams from these games. The professional baseball teams deploy scouts to watch the game and then recruit the best players into the professional circuit.
Why Japanese Love Baseball
There are two main reasons why Japanese love baseball.
Firstly, it’s a fun sport to play. Base is also an easy game to keep up with. And unlike football, baseball isn’t aggressive and even children can play it.
The second reason why Japanese love baseball is that it encourages team spirit. To win a baseball game, it’s important that the team coordinates well even though a single player can make all the difference.
A baseball game is long and requires the team to keep up their spirits, be patient and endeavor till the end! All of these qualities is imbibed in the Japanese culture!
Sports Culture in Japan
Baseball has now become a part of Japanese culture. Japanese baseball fans have a lot of affection for their teams. This love is also difficult to separate from the love of the cities that these teams represent. This is quite evident in Japan.
You will see this love is represented everywhere in the country. As you take a walk down the street, you will see the colors of the city’s local baseball teams sported everywhere.
You will also be able to find stores that sell jerseys, key chains, pennants, signed baseballs, and all other fan items. You can get these to show your support towards your baseball team.
Professional teams also have their loyal fanbase. But it is not just the professional teams that the Japanese follow. They will stop all their normal activities to follow the game played by unknown teams too. There is no need for the team to be well-known. It is so because the game is just so well-loved by the Japanese.
Why are the Japanese obsessed with baseball?
Baseball gained popularity in Japan due to its introduction during the Meiji Restoration period, its adoption as a school sport, the success of the professional league (NPB), achievements in international competitions, alignment with cultural values, and passionate fan culture.
Is baseball Japan’s favorite sport?
Yes, baseball is often considered Japan’s favorite sport. While other sports like soccer, sumo wrestling, martial arts, and traditional Japanese sports also have significant followings, baseball holds a special place in Japanese society.
It has a rich history, a well-established professional league (NPB), and widespread participation at the school level. The sport’s cultural significance, its success in international competitions, and the passionate fan culture it fosters have contributed to its enduring popularity.
While individual preferences may vary, baseball’s popularity and widespread enthusiasm make it a strong contender for the title of Japan’s favorite sport.
Is baseball Japan’s national sport?
While baseball is often referred to as Japan’s national sport, it is worth noting that Japan does not have an official national sport. The term “national sport” typically refers to a sport officially designated as the representative sport of a country.
In Japan, baseball holds immense popularity and cultural significance, and it is often regarded as the de facto national sport due to its widespread following and historical roots in the country.
However, it is important to recognize that there is no official designation of baseball as Japan’s national sport.
The love for baseball in Japan
Baseball is not the native game of the country. But it is also highly revered and well-loved by the people of the nation. The Japanese have a lot of passion for the game. Japanese simply love the game and it is evident in all that they do. The passion that they have, the emotionally charged and electrifying atmosphere, and the involvement of the game in the culture of Japan all point at the love of the game.