Yakyu: the history of Baseball in Japan

  • CULTURE
  • History

    Known as Yakyu in Japanese, baseball is the most popular sports in Japan. Imported from US in the old times, baseball gained popularity in the country of the rising sun and is now one of the most favourite games among all the age groups. Nowadays, many tournaments are conducted all over the country at various levels. Starting from the school age and played by people up until the old age. There are many teams across the country and the national team of Japan is also famous worldwide as they perform well among the world’s nations.

    It is during the Meiji period that baseball came to Japan and was introduced by Mr. Horace Wilson, an American, to what today is known as Tokyo university. In 1880 the first baseball team was formed in Shimbashi, Tokyo. Nippon professional baseball league is the first baseball league of the country, which then grown to give rise to the other leagues too. There were a lot of teams formed all over Japan in universities, as the game was gaining more and more importance in the country. Starting from school, baseball is a preferred sport. Currently, baseball is the most watched game on Japanese TV channels.

    Big Deal

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    Tournaments are conducted starting from school kids. Among the most famous and important, are the two annual national tournaments conducted for high school level which are called Koshien. They are held during spring and summer seasons by Japan High school National Federation. This tournament is actually the stepping stone for the emerging National baseball players of Japan, and hence, has greater priority among the baseball tournaments for the Japanese.

    Japanese Professional Baseball Teams

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    Japan has many professional baseball teams and the most famous among them is Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giant.

    Tokyo has five teams:

    • Yomiuri Giants
    • Yakult Swallows
    • Saitama Seibu Lions
    • Chiba Lotte Marines
    • DeNA Baystars, Yokohama

    The Osaka region has two teams:

    • Orix Buffaloes
    • Hanshin Tigers.
    • The other prominent teams are:
    • Chunichi Dragons, Nagoya
    • Toyo Carp, Hiroshima
    • Softbank Hawks, Fukuoka
    Top Japanese players

    In 1964, Masanomi Murakami participated in the Major league baseball game for the first time.
    After that many Japanese become part of various MLB teams .

    • Ichiro Suzuki: He is one of the most famous current baseball players in Japan. He is an outfielder playing for MLB team Miami Marlins, since 2013. Before that he was playing for New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners teams.
    • Yankees Suzuki Baseball

    • Yu Darwish: He is ranked as the fourth best player of current baseball team. He is the starting pitcher currently playing for MLB team Texas Ragers.
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    • Koji Uehara: He played as relief pitcher for the last 5 years for various MLB teams. Now playing for the team Boston Red Sox.
    • Hideki Matsui: He is a talented outfielder and played for the teams like Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and the New york Yankees. He was selected as the Most Valuable Player in 2009 World series.
    • Hideo Nomo: Starting in the year 1995, he played as the starting pitcher for so many teams like Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers , Milwaukee Brewers , New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was part of the silver medal winning team in 1988 Olympics.

    The other current MLB players from Japan are:

    • Junichi Tazawa (Boston Red Sox)
    • Masahiro Tanaka (New York Yankees)
    • Tsuyoshi Wada (Chicago clubs)
    • Toru Murata (Cleveland Indians Team)
    • Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the baseball game in any of the Japanese stadiums when you are here!