“Museums are boring!” Not this one. The most hallowed baseball park in Japan has its own museum that will give you an even fuller appreciation for the stadium. Entrance is ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children under age 12. Take ¥100 off the fee if you’re a Hanshin Tigers Fan Club member. Hours are 10:00am until 16:00pm and outside of national holidays and game days, the museum is closed on Mondays. The entrance can be found on the east side of the stadium, right near Gate 16.
Before you enter, you may want to try to get some English resources, such as a map or an information pen. These will give you some explanations of the things you will see on the inside. However, you can also just enjoy the exhibits without having to refer to anything!
The first section is devoted to the annual high school baseball tournaments. The spring invitational takes place at the end of March, while the summer national tournament happens in August. There is a wall of baseballs with the names of every school that has been in the tournaments since their beginnings. You will also find a glass floor with a home plate and infield dirt leading up to a pitching rubber.
You will also notice in this picture that there’s a TV screen at the end of the wall. There are screens throughout the museum, each playing video clips of something different. Basically, you will not find many quiet spaces in the museum. In fact, as you continue through the high school baseball section (which is also graced with many old uniforms, equipment, player profiles and more), you will find a mini-theater in which you can select from 20+ classic tournament moments, and watch a mini-documentary on them in comfort. (Stay as long as you want, but of course if there are others waiting to watch a different clip, be courteous!)
You might be surprised to know that Koshien Stadium gets converted into a football (that’s American football y’all!) towards the end of every calendar year for the annual Koshien Bowl. The best university team from Kanto (Tokyo area) competes against the best university team from Kansai (Osaka area).
Are you ready to take in the Hanshin Tigers sections of the museum? Thought so. First up is a look at the team’s history. Babe Ruth visited the stadium in 1934, the year before the Hanshin Tigers came into existence (as the Osaka Tigers), and there is a small area dedicated to him.
The jersey, by the way, is a classic “All Nippon” (AN) one signed by Atsushi Nohmi (AN). A team of Tigers and Giants played an exhibition game some years back, and wore these throwbacks.
Throughout the early history part of the museum, you can find glass exhibits with newspaper clippings and brief explanations of the major periods in team history down the middle of the hall. On the left are exhibits and pictures, and on the right are classic uniform designs.
A little bit further on, there’s an imitation dugout bench where you can sit down, relax, take pictures and pretend to call the bullpen. That is followed by a section with championship banners, uniforms of the pennant-winning managers, and all the trophies won by the team.
Immediately after this is a look through the team’s history in detail, as well as major profiles of all-time greats in team history. The one below of Tsuyoshi Shinjyo is one of many. Check this section of the website for more.
After looking at all the legendary players’ information, you will head down a long, narrow hallway. But don’t just walk straight ahead without looking at the walls. First, you will see a listening of every player to ever wear each number in team history. It’s fun to see things like when numbers got retired, and that no one wore #50 or higher until 1955.
Next, there are several large wooden boards with kanji written on them. Wondering just what they are? Before the digital scoreboard came into existence, every player’s name was hand painted on a board and placed in the scoreboards. This includes both Hanshin players (on the left side of the corridor) and opponents’ players (on the right). The examples below are boards of the legends who hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in 1985, Bass, Kakefu and Okada.
Continuing down the corridor, you will see some Hall of Famer plaques on the left side and a collection of uniforms on the right. Here are a few of the greats featured on this website (Left to Right: Masaaki Koyama, Yoshio Yoshida, Fumio Fujimura, Tadashi Wakabayashi):
You will also see a collection of uniforms from the high school baseball tournament on the right, and all the tournament brackets on the left.
Been trapped inside too long? Need a breath of fresh Koshien Stadium air? No problem! There’s a little staircase on the right side at this point, and unless there’s a game going on, you’re free to climb it and get a perfect view of the field from below the scoreboard in center field.
We’re almost done, but there’s still lots of good stuff to come. The long corridor (and now you know where you’re situated in relation to the field!) continues for awhile with a tribute to all the great Japanese manga that mention Koshien in them. Very cool to see, especially for fans of this genre of literature.
The next-to-last room is one that changes several times a year. It may have a special high school baseball tournament feature (especially before, during and after the two major tournaments), a particular time period in team history, the greatest pure hitters in team history, or something else. Definitely worth coming back for throughout the year.
Finally, in the final chamber, there is a history of Koshien section as well as “Koshien Plaza.” You can see original sketches/blueprints of the stadium, some old signage, and you can touch/lift (but not carry or swing) actual bats used by current Hanshin Tigers.
And in the very back corner of the whole museum, you get to create a memory for yourself. There is a computer where you can enter your own data and set up the TV screen to make it look as though you have been drafted. Choose a team, your name, position, and what school/organization you were drafted out of. Voila! You have been chosen in the 20__ NPB draft!
So there you have it. A start-to-finish look at the Museum of Hanshin Koshien Stadium. If you ever want a tour guide to help you through and explain some of the museum’s finer points, send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I can’t promise, but chances are if I have the time, I’ll be there with you!