If there is one country that takes baseball more seriously than the United States, then it is without question Japan. Every spring, the Japanese sports world teems with excitement as the baseball season, or "puro yakyu" (professional baseball) commences. The Giants, Dragons, Tigers, Carp, and other teams within the two leagues have their die-hard fans that scream, wave flags, and play instruments in the stands as they cheer along their favorite team. It is no wonder that Japan has won the World Baseball Championship twice!
Japan exports several of its finest players to the US' Major League Baseball every year, with today's lineup including the likes of Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Matsui, and many other professional ball players. Each team has its own special arena to play in, usually drawing huge groups of fans for each game. The Tokyo Dome happens to be one of the most well known stadiums in Japan thanks to the hotels, amusement park, baseball museums and restaurants that surround the arena. Even if you're not a sports fan, a Japanese baseball game is not to be missed due to the overall enthusiasm brought to every game. Cheer captains lead the crowd in chants and fight songs, food vendors line up to offer a staggering selection of options from hot dogs to bento boxes, and beer girls armed with a pony keg serve drinks to the thirsty spectator. To ensure your seat at one of Japan's favorite sporting events, scope out some tickets at the stadium's kiosk, or even take a baseball tour of Japan with the Seattle-based tour company Japan Ball.
When you're not busy going crazy in the baseball stadium, why not check out one of Japan's more well-renowned traditional sports? While sumo wrestling hasn't exactly caught on in other countries, sports fans around the globe pay their respects to Japans native form of wrestling. These three-hundred pound machines are highly respected in Japan for their devotion and their spiritual connection with the sport. Huge crowds will gather around a "dohyo" or arena, and cheer on their favorite wrestler during one of six major national tournaments each year. These tournaments occur in January, March, May, July, September, and November.
To fully experience this national pastime, book a tour with Experience Japan where you'll be able to be a spectator of morning practices, have a photo session with the wrestlers, and have lunch with the "oyakata", or stable master. Sports are very integral to Japanese culture, and it would be a mistake to miss either a baseball game or sumo wrestling bout during your trip, so purchase tickets soon to guarantee a first class seat at at least one of these highly entertaining events.
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