For information on current sporting events taking place in Tokyo, ranging from kickboxing and pro wrestling to sumo, baseball, soccer, table tennis, and golf, contact the Tourist Information Center, or pick up a copy of the free weekly Metropolis magazine.
Baseball -- Japanese are so crazy about baseball, you’d think they invented the game. Actually, it was introduced to Japan by the United States way back in 1873. Today, it’s as popular among Japanese as it is among Americans. Even the annual high-school playoffs keep everyone glued to the TV set. As with other imports, the Japanese have added their own modifications, including cheerleaders and enthusiastic fan clubs, making the game practically a cultural experience. Several American players have proven very popular with local fans; there’s also been a reverse exodus of top Japanese players defecting to American teams.
Japan has two professional leagues, the Central and the Pacific, which play from April to October and meet in the Japan Series. In Tokyo, the home teams are the Yomiuri Giants, who play at Tokyo Dome (www.tokyo-dome.co.jp; tel. 03/5800-9999; station: Korakuen or Suidobashi), and the Yakult Swallows, who play at Meiji Jingu Stadium (www.yakult-swallows.co.jp; tel. 03/3404-8999; station: Gaienmae). Good English-language websites that explain and follow Japanese baseball are http://japanesebaseball.com and www.japanball.com.
Except for Giants games, which often sell out, you can usually get tickets at the ballpark before the game. Otherwise, advance tickets can be purchased through each team’s website, at convenience stores like Lawson, or at Ticket Pia locations around town (ask your hotel for the one nearest you). But probably the easiest method for obtaining tickets is through the website www.japanballtickets.com; tickets must be ordered at least 4 days in advance and can even be delivered to your hotel. Prices for Tokyo Dome, all for reserved seating, range from ¥1,700 in the outfield to ¥6,200 for seats behind home plate—but the Giants are so popular that tickets are sometimes hard to come by. Tickets for Jingu Stadium range from ¥1,600 for an unreserved seat in the outfield to ¥4,600 for seats behind home plate.
Sumo -- Sumo matches are held in Tokyo at the Kokugikan, 1–3–28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku (www.sumo.or.jp; tel. 03/3622-1100; station: Ryogoku, then a 1-min. walk). Matches are held in January, May, and September for 15 consecutive days, beginning at around 9:30am and lasting until 6pm; the top wrestlers compete after 3:30pm. The best seats are ringside box seats, but they’re often snapped up by companies or the friends and families of sumo wrestlers. Usually available are balcony arena seats, which can be purchased at Ticket Pia locations around town or through the websites http://sumo.pia.jp/en or www.japanballtickets.com. You can also purchase tickets directly at the Kokugikan ticket office beginning at 9am every morning of the tournament. Prices range from ¥2,200 for an unreserved seat (sold only on the day of the event at the stadium, with about 400 seats available); reserved seats start at ¥3,800.
If you can’t make it to a match, watching on TV is almost as good. Tournaments in Tokyo, as well as those that take place annually in Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, are broadcast on the NHK channel from 4 to 6pm daily while tournaments are taking place.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.