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Discover Koshien Stadium: Japan's Mecca for True Baseball Fans!

Discover Koshien Stadium: Japan's Mecca for True Baseball Fans!

Date published: 8 December 2019
Last updated: 25 January 2021

Hanshin Koshien Stadium is considered the holy land of baseball in Japan.

The stadium in Nishinomiya City located between Osaka and Kobe boasts a history of more than 90 years. It is the home ground of the Hanshin Tigers, one of Japan’s premier pro baseball teams, and also the stage for the wildly popular high school tournaments.

Join us for an inside look as we visit Koshien Stadium!

Table of Contents
  1. Behind the Koshien Stadium's name
  2. Feeling the power of baseball: Taking Koshien Stadium’s tour
  3. The Koshien Stadium tour begins with a trip to the third-base bullpen and interview space
  4. On to the long-awaited third base benches which normally only the players can enter!
  5. Feel like a high school player and touch Koshien Stadium soil
  6. For those who love high school baseball, the Alps Stands are of interest
  7. Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum: A treasure house of Koshien memorabilia!
  8. A composite of Hanshin Tigers history!
  9. Here are more things to see in the museum!

Behind the Koshien Stadium's name

Koshien Stadium was completed in 1924. It was built in about four months in order to be used for the 10th National High School Baseball Championship of Japan.

It was the first large-scale ballpark made in Japan, its design based on the New York Giants football team’s home grounds. 1924 was the year of the Wood Rat according to the Japanese zodiac and the two characters for it are the same as “Koshi” used in Koshien, which literally could be translated as the “park of the Wood Rat”.

Accordingly, the ground was originally named the Koshien Grand Sports Ground. Every year, with the exception of the war years of WWII, it has been the site of the twice-annual national high school baseball championships.

▲View from behind the home plate. It became the home for the Hanshin Tigers after the war
▲ The nearest station is Koshien Station on the Hanshin Electric Railway
▲The stadium is right in front of the station, but the Hanshin Expressway No. 3 Kobe Line runs across the front of the baseball stadium. Let’s take a look at the stadium.

Feeling the power of baseball: Taking Koshien Stadium’s tour

Koshien Stadium has a Stadium Tour that takes you behind the scenes and shows you aspects of the ground that you normally would not be able to see during a baseball game.

As of July 2017 a total of 16 types of tours have been offered. The dates of the tours are scheduled outside game times. You need to make a reservation two months in advance at the beginning of the month by 5:30 p.m. either on the website or by telephone (note, though, that reservations are no longer accepted once the number of participants allowed on a tour has been reached).

I took the S2 tour course that covers among other areas the bench along the third base line and grounds (1,500 yen for adults, 1,000 yen for children. Tax included; tour lasts about 50 minutes).

▲Tour participants gathered at the place marked Meeting Place. In addition to the Hanshin fans, the group included three Giants fans and one Seibu fan.

On the day of the tour you first must go to the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum next to the No. 16 Gate to pay for the tour, upon which you will receive an original ticket holder; then you head over to the meeting place.

The tour guide will first brief participants on good places for taking pictures and other things they must be mindful of during the tour. Now it’s time for the tour to begin! We entered the ball park from the nearby No. 14 Gate.

The Koshien Stadium tour begins with a trip to the third-base bullpen and interview space

On days when there are night games, the S2 course is held a total of three times during the day. First we will go to the second-floor passageway near the third base “Alps Stand”.

When there is a game, shops along the passageway are busy with fans buying bento boxes, curry, and yakitori, but when there is no game, the shutters of the shops are down. One of the shutters is opened for the tour. And through it we can see the third base bullpen. There is a thrill of excitement in seeing this.

▲The bullpen near third base is where pitchers warm up
▲ From the window (right side of photo) we can see the bullpen while listening to the guide’s explanation
▲This is what the bullpen by third base looks like when the shutter is raised

This space is used by high school baseball teams for warming up before their game during the annual high school tournaments. Here the guide showed us a photograph of Japan’s first public heated swimming pool.

That’s right. When Koshien was still called the Koshien Grand Sports Ground the bullpen by the third base was a heated pool which was quite epoch-making at that time. And the bullpen by first base was used as a judo and kendo hall.

▲The curving lines of the windows and roof have not changed since then

Continuing on, before and after games the players are interviewed and a special area for conducting those interviews has been made on the first floor. On this day a Hanshin Tigers backdrop was shown, but when a high school game ends, this is where the coach and athletes are interviewed.

▲A tour participant posing for a photo in front of the Hanshin Tigers backdrop. It’s OK to wear a Happi coat and bring goods with you.

On to the long-awaited third base benches which normally only the players can enter!

Players get to the third base benches from their locker room. It seems that there are times when it is also possible to watch players warming up on the field on days when there are games.

▲The locker room near third base. Though not included in today’s course, you can see this on the S1, S3, S8, and S9 courses.
▲The third base bench which normally only players can enter.
▲ It was quite an exhilarating moment to be able to smell the turf and see all of Koshien spread out before you! I was really happy that I took this tour. For me, this was the best part of the tour!
▲The guide also explained trivia about Koshien Stadium, including secrets of the home plate and about the superb field drainage system.

Feel like a high school player and touch Koshien Stadium soil

One scene that always stands out during the high school championships is that of the losing team members gathering up soil from the ground as a souvenir as they cried. On the stadium tour you can’t touch the actual field grounds; instead, Koshien soil is shown in a case that you can touch.

▲ This is how you can actually touch the Koshien dirt. Be sure to snap a picture!

During the tour we could see the grounds being maintained. Staff of the company that maintains and manages the Koshien Stadium grounds do this every day regardless of whether there is a game.

▲Quickly maintaining the ground when it becomes muddy after rain is also one of the jobs of the staff.
▲The broad, grassy outfield in Koshien Stadium. The grass is kept green regardless of the season and is replanted every summer and winter.

This was something I learned on the tour. You can really feel how big Koshien is by looking up at the stands.

For those who love high school baseball, the Alps Stands are of interest

Leaving the third base bench we moved along to the Alps Stands which are located between the infield and outfield stands. This is where the supporters of high school teams sit during high school tournaments.

When high school baseball tournaments are held, there are many types of plans implemented such as doubling the height of the infield fence so that school banners can be displayed and removing the front row of seats to secure aisle space to enable all the spectators to change places between games.

▲Alumni of the school whose team is playing fill these seats to cheer on their team during high school tournaments.
▲ The view from the Alps Stand looking towards the outfield
▲Looking towards the infield. Supporters cheer on players when they stand in the batter’s box

Passing through the outfield stands and exiting through the No. 16 Gate from where the tour started we come to the end of the tour which lasted about 50 minutes.

This was a happy time for me as I was able to feel a closer connection to the Koshien Stadium by being able to go behind the scenes. There are still more things I would like to learn about the stadium so I am looking forward to taking one of the other tour courses offered.

▲ There is also a stadium tour course (R1) you can take when league games are held. You can watch players warming up for about 20 minutes.
  • Hanshin Koshien Stadium Tour (S2 Course)
    • Address 1-82 Koshien-cho, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0798-44-3310
    • Fee: Adults 1,500 yen, Children 1,000 yen (Group Adult 1,200 yen, Group Children 800 yen) *All prices include tax
      * Children fees are for 4-year-olds to junior high age
      * Fee includes admission price for Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum
      Tour Duration: about 50 minutes
      Reservation Method: 5:30 p.m. On the day before the first day of the month two months in advance. Reservations can be made on the website or by telephone
      * Once the set number of participants has been reached, reservations are closed
      0798-44-3310 (10:00 a.m. ~ 5:30 p.m., only on Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum business days)

Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum: A treasure house of Koshien memorabilia!

The admission fee to the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum (adults 600 yen, children aged 4 to junior high school 300 yen; tax included) is included in the stadium tour; a history of the Hanshin Tigers and high school baseball is displayed here. While the tour experience is still fresh in your mind, visit the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum!

▲The Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum is inside Koshien Stadium

The museum is divided into two zones, the High School Baseball Zone and the Hanshin Tigers Zone, each rich with historical memorabilia and video clips. We begin by going up the red carpeted staircase right after entering.

▲ The curved banister and red carpet give it a retro feeling

To the right at the top of the stairs the tour begins with the High School Baseball Zone. Here there is a collection of the players, memorable games, video clips of games, and uniforms from high school baseball.

▲Photographs and film clips of players who were active through different ages are displayed. Those who come enjoy looking for their favorite players

Here also is the original pennant from the National High School Baseball Championship of Japan (Summer Koshien).

▲This pennant was used from the first championship game in 1915 until the 39th championship in 1957.
▲A catcher’s mitt and other historical items on display
▲ Uniforms representative of the schools who have participated
▲ Kano Agricultural and Forestry High School made it to the semifinals in the 17th championship held in 1931, the first team from Taiwan, which then was under Japanese rule, to play in the tournament. This was the topic of a movie which after it was shown in Taiwan resulted in an increase in Taiwan tourists.
▲The uniforms and gloves used by Hideki Matsui (Seiryo High School) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Yokohama High School) are also displayed! The wall is covered in baseballs inscribed with the names of all high schools that have played at Koshien.

A composite of Hanshin Tigers history!

Next is the Hanshin Tigers Zone. Here are a number of exhibitions certain to delight old Tigers fans; displays of uniforms of famous players, their bats, and other items.

▲The uniform of Mr. Yoshio Yoshida, the only head coach to lead the Hanshin Tigers to the No. 1 slot in Japan. As of 2017 he has been working as a baseball commentator and is also an advisor to the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum.
▲Many valuable items such as the uniforms, bats, and panels of those who played for the Hanshin Tigers are displayed.
▲Many visitors pause to watch memorable video clips

Of course there is an area dedicated to the current Hanshin Tigers, too.

▲ Here there are photos of all the current Hanshin Tigers (active in 2017)
▲A collection of autographs of players who joined the team in 2017

The displays in both the High School Baseball Zone and the Hanshin Tigers Zone pack all the major highlights of both into these compact displays.

Here are more things to see in the museum!

There are many other displays other than those about high school baseball and the Hanshin Tigers as well. The Manga and Koshien area has memorable scenes taken from manga with Koshien baseball themes, such as Dokaben and Touch, as well as illustrations signed by the artists.

▲Manga and Koshien area. On the floor is written “Kakiin!” the sound of a bat hitting the ball.
▲A hand-drawn illustration depicting Minami-chan of "Touch", the monumental high school baseball manga, is also on display.

“Back Screen View” shows to maximum effect the Koshien Stadium. It takes you from outside the museum, along the outdoor stairway, to beneath the scoreboard. When the weather is nice you can go outside for an all-encompassing view of the stadium. During games and when the weather is bad, it is not possible to go out, so you should confirm whether it is possible to do so when you enter the museum.

▲Very popular spot for taking commemorative photos!
▲When you look up the back screen seems this close

There are lots of fun attractions in the Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum. To begin with there is trick art. Here you can photograph yourself hitting a home run off a pro pitcher! There is a Pro Baseball Version and a High School Version, and with each season these are changed.

▲Stand in the designated spot and strike a pose. Anyone can easily look like a pro hitter.

There is also a virtual reality corner where you can see yourself as one of the girl high school students marching into the stadium carrying the name of a high school or soar above the stadium like a bird looking down on it.

▲Experience the feeling of marching around the field or flying above it like a bird

This is a corner where you can experience the baseball draft. Pro baseball drafts are often shown on TV. Here you can have your name drawn just like the names of designated players. You can choose the team and your position, be selected by your favorite team, and strike a pose.

▲ You can choose any of the 12 teams in the Central and Pacific Leagues. Into which team would you like to be drafted?
  • Hanshin Koshien Stadium Museum
    • Address 1-82 Koshien-cho, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0798-49-4509
    • Hours: 10:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. (November ~ February 10:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.) ※ Business hours fluctuate depending on events being held
      * Admission closes 30 minutes before closing time
      Admission fee: Adults 600 yen, children 300 yen (tax included in both)
      * Children are between the ages of 4 and junior high school age
      Closed: Mondays, (game days, excluding holidays), end of year holidays
      * Other times, such as when building is undergoing maintenance

Koshien Stadium, the Mecca of baseball, is a place all pro and high school baseball fans will want to visit. From the stadium tour and the Koshien park historic center I was able to gain a deeper appreciation of the attractions of the stadium as well as historical and memorable events associated with it.

Text by:kurashisa

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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