Do the Japanese Like Baseball?

The answer is a resounding yes! The Japanese love baseball and have been playing the sport for over a hundred years.


It is safe to say that baseball is America’s favorite pastime. The sport has been around for over a century and continues to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States. But what about other countries? Is baseball just as popular in other parts of the world?

One country that has always been fascinated by baseball is Japan. In fact, the first professional baseball team in Japan was formed all the way back in 1878. Baseball quickly became one of the most popular sports in the country and continues to be enjoyed by millions of Japanese people today.

The History of Baseball in Japan

Baseball was first introduced to Japan in 1872 by an American teacher named Horace Wilson. It quickly became popular, with the first official game being played in 1873. Baseball has been a part of Japanese culture ever since, with many Japanese people grow up playing the sport.

The early years

Baseball in Japan began in the Meiji period, with the first game played in 1873. It wasn’t until 1934 that professional baseball was started in Japan. The first professional baseball league was called the Japanese Baseball League, and it consisted of six teams.

During World War II, baseball in Japan was put on hold as the country focused on the war effort. After the war, baseball became popular again, with amateur leagues forming and professional leagues resuming play.

The first Japanese team to compete in Major League Baseball was an All-Star team that played exhibition games against MLB teams in 1908. In 1922, a Japanese team called the Tokyo Senators played a series of games against American minor league teams. In 1932, another Japanese team called the Osaka Tigers played a series of games against American minor league teams.

It wasn’t until 1959 that a Japanese team played Major League Baseball teams in regular season games. The Tokyo Giants were the first Japanese team to do so, playing three games against the San Francisco Giants.

The Meiji Period

In the Meiji period, baseball became popular in Japan. It was first played in 1872 by an American expatriate named Horace Wilson. The game quickly caught on with the Japanese public, and by the early 1880s, there were hundreds of teams across the country.

The first professional league was founded in 1903, and by the 1920s, baseball had become one of Japan’s most popular sports. Today, baseball is still one of the most popular sports in Japan, with millions of fans attending games each year.

The Taishō period

During the Taishō period in Japan (1912-1926), baseball began to gain popularity. American troops stationed in Japan during World War II also played the game, and it became even more popular after the war. Professional teams were established, and by the 1950s, baseball was one of the most popular sports in Japan.

The Shōwa period

During the Shōwa period, baseball became increasingly popular in Japan. The first professional baseball team was formed in 1934, and by 1936 there were six teams in the professional league. Baseball games were broadcast on the radio, and people gathered in public places to listen to them. More and more people began to play baseball, both professionally and recreationally.

The professional baseball league continued to grow during the postwar years. In 1950, there were eight teams in the league. By 1960, there were sixteen teams. The level of play also increased, as Japanese players became more skilled and experienced. In 1964, Toyota formed a corporate team that began to compete against the other professional teams.

The level of play continued to improve in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) was established as the governing body for professional baseball in Japan. NPB continued to expand and improve the quality of play. In 1982, Sadaharu Oh set a world record by hitting 868 home runs during his career. In 1988, pitcher Masanori Murakami became the first Japanese player to be signed by a Major League Baseball team (the San Francisco Giants).

Today, baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan. There are twelve NPB teams, and games are broadcast on television and radio. Many Japanese players have gone on to successful careers in Major League Baseball.

The Current state of Baseball in Japan

The Nippon Professional Baseball

Since the Meiji era, baseball has been one of Japan’s most popular sports. The sport was first introduced to Japan in 1872 by an American teacher named Horace Wilson. Baseball quickly gained popularity among the Japanese, especially among young people.

The first professional baseball team in Japan was founded in 1934, and the league has been in operation ever since. Presently, there are two professional baseball leagues in Japan: the Central League and the Pacific League. Each league has six teams.

The season runs from late March/early April to October, with each team playing 144 games. The top three teams from each league then advance to the playoffs, which culminate in the Japan Series (the equivalent of the World Series in America).

Japanese baseball is widely considered to be of a high quality, on par with American Major League Baseball. Many Japanese players have gone on to have successful careers in MLB, such as Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, and Kenta Maeda.

The Japan Series

The Japan Series is the championship series of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Japan’s top baseball league. The annual tournament pits the champions of NPB’s Central League and Pacific League against each other in a best-of-seven game series. The first Japan Series was held in 1936, and it has been held every year since 1950 (with the exception of 1954, when a players’ strike led to its cancellation).

The current format of the Japan Series was adopted in 2007. Prior to that, the teams with the best record in each league automatically advanced to the Series, with the exception of 2004, when the teams with the second-best record in each league played each other in a preliminary playoff series (called the “Climax Series”) to determine who would advance to face the top seed from the other league.

Since 2007, the Climax Series has been played between the second-place team from each league and whichever team from either league finished in third place with the best record. The winners of those two postseasonseries then advance to face each other in the Japan Series.

As of 2019, 25 different franchises have won at least one Japan Series title. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have won a record five times (most recently in 2019), while no team from NPB’s Central League has won more than three times.

The World Baseball Classic

An international tournament that is held every four years and features teams from around the world, the World Baseball Classic has seen a lot of success since its inception in 2006. Japan has won the tournament twice, in 2006 and 2009, and has made it to the finals five times. The popularity of the World Baseball Classic in Japan has helped increase interest in baseball, both at home and abroad.


In conclusion, baseball is popular in Japan and the Japanese do like baseball. It is not as popular as soccer or sumo, but it still has a large following. There are many professional teams and leagues, and the games are regularly televised. If you are interested in watching baseball in Japan, you should have no trouble finding a game to watch.

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