You’ve got one chance to watch a baseball game at the hallowed Hanshin Koshien Stadium. You want the best experience possible, but you don’t know where to start. Is that you? Then look no further – your quest for the best tickets is about to be solved. And if it’s not, well, you can always send your questions my way, and I’ll do what I can to help: email@example.com
There are four main ways to get tickets if you do not speak or read Japanese:
This website simply provides an English translation of the application form for tickets, which is on a separate website, and is in Japanese. You need to switch back and forth between two browser tabs to get the job done. But still, this is extremely helpful if you’re living overseas and want to get your tickets by yourself and have fuller control over the seats you get. You still cannot specify your exact seats unless you are in the Hanshin Tigers fan club (which is only available to those with a Japanese address). You can get it down to a general section (ticket price range) but that’s it.
Advantages: You can say you got your tickets all by yourself without depending on others’ help and/or services. You save yourself money by not having to pay service fees. You can get your tickets as early in advance as regular fans in Japan, which makes planning your trip around baseball games (or vice versa) much easier than waiting until you land in Japan to decide.
Disadvantages: It requires time to get through everything. While directions are thorough, this method may intimidate less confident online shoppers. Also, using this method only gets you the tickets when you get to the stadium. Make sure you print off the QR-code for your tickets before you get there (or at least take a screen shot of it), or else have your own Wifi source at the park.
For a nominal service charge ($59 US, regardless of how many tickets you want or how many different games/stadiums you want tickets for), they will take care of all the details for you. You choose your date, the number of tickets, and the general area you want to sit in (or price budget). They get you the tickets and arrange for them to be delivered to your hotel when you arrive in Japan. Can’t get much easier than that!
Advantages: On top of everything you just read, they will help you get a refund in case the game gets rained out. The payment options include PayPal, which Koshien Stadium itself does not accept. You get excellent English-speaking customer service in case you have any questions. You can also get tickets for sumo through this site! (And the service charge is still the same!) Finally, you can place your order any time during the year. Though they will not be able to get the tickets any earlier than the general public, at least they will make the purchase as early as possible, ensuring you the best tickets your money can buy.
Disadvantages: You have to make the request at least 4 days before the game. You have to pay a service fee. (But since time is money, it’s actually very reasonable.)
Wait until you arrive in Japan and go to a local convenience store.
Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11, and the rest. They all have machines that can issue you tickets to any sporting or entertainment even in the country – provided there are still tickets available! Just step up to the machine, and look lost and puzzled as to what to do. (The machine interfaces are in Japanese only!) If things go the way they should in Japan, a store clerk will help you navigate the system, though their English is quite likely minimal. Communication might be tough, but you’ll get through it, buy tickets, and have stories to tell at the end of your trip.
Advantages: You don’t have to plan ahead and worry about whether or not the game will be rained out, whether or not you’ll be in that particular city on that particular day of your trip, and so on. You don’t need a credit card to get these tickets. (Of course, you will need Japanese cash.)
Disadvantages: There is a greater chance that the game will be sold out if you wait until you arrive in Japan to buy the tickets. You won’t get the cool tickets that Koshien Stadium issues that are in Tigers colors and have a picture of a player or two on them. Your store clerk might not know English or baseball, and that could lead to problems getting the types of tickets you want.
If all else fails…
Middle-Aged Men “Scalping” Tickets
I say this half tongue-in-cheek, since scalping is illegal here and there is no chance these men would actually rip you off. But on most game days (in my experience) there are a few men standing about 1/4 of the way between Hanshin Koshien Station and the stadium. Make sure you leave the station out the West Exit! The picture above shows green “turnstile” gates, and that is generally the whereabouts of the men with tickets. If you make eye contact with them, they will probably try to get you to buy their tickets. And if you do, your hopes of getting into a game have been salvaged! Pay cash, get tickets, walk 100 meters south, and you’re in!
Advantages: If you tried any of the above options and they didn’t work (because the game was already sold out, or whatever), then this saved you from leaving Japan without having seen a baseball game at Koshien.
Disadvantages: You might not notice them. They might not notice you. They might not be there. They might not have enough tickets for your group. OR, you might have to get a couple of tickets here, a couple of tickets there. Anyways, this option is really last-resort and high-risk. (Not of being ripped off or cheated out of your money… just of not getting tickets.)
So there you have it.
Now, if you want more advice about what part of the stadium is best to sit in, click here for my seating breakdown. Also, as I said above, if you have any questions that you’d like answered, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org