Professional baseball in Japan is not a national pastime, but more accurately a national passion. The history of the game dates back almost one hundred years and is easily the most popular spectator sport in the country. You may have seen a game or two in person and been overwhelmed by the devotion and vociferous nature of any number of teams' fans in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, but how much do you know about its history?
Thankfully, the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Tokyo can provide you with some insight and it’s conveniently located right next to Gate 21 of the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo.
If you are not a baseball enthusiast, then the Hall of Fame may not be the place for you. But for those interested in all things baseball, the hall is an impressive and interesting look into Japan’s version of “The Show.”
Considerably smaller than its American counterpart in Cooperstown, New York, the Hall of Fame and Museum is located on a single floor with several exhibits. The displays are primarily in Japanese, but guidebooks are offered with English language translation for the various exhibits. It is important to not only view the wonderful images, trophies, uniforms and equipment of a bygone era, but also read the information provided by the guide for historical context. In particular, some of the displays of old rule books, umpire equipment and promotional material — especially a poster of Babe Ruth advertising a tour of American ballplayers for exhibition matches against Japanese teams — are quite wonderful. The museum also contains a library, a small interactive exhibit where children can take a swing at a “virtual” pitch from famous Japanese players and a hall of plaques of past inductees.
When you arrive at the Tokyo Dome area for a Tokyo Giants game, you will want to spend a couple of hours exploring the shops and souvenir stands — why not add the museum to your itinerary? It’s a good way to spend 45 to 60 minutes prior to first pitch and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Tickets for adults are ¥500, ¥300 for those aged 65 or older and ¥200 for children under age sixteen.