Do you remember who won the World Baseball Classic last year and the year before? Yes, it is Team JAPAN that won two consecutive years! As you can tell from that glorious achievement, Japan is strong in baseball! Let's take a sneak peek at the overview of how Japan's professional baseball league works.
Similar to Major League Baseball of U.S.A, the teams of NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) are divided into two groups. The first group is called Pacific League, usually called "Pa-League". Pacific League consists of six teams. "Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters", "Tohoku Rakuten Eagles", "Saitama Seibu Lions", "Chiba Lotte Marines", Orix Buffaloes", "Fukuoka Softbank Hawks". Compared to the other league (Central League) teams of Pacific League are said to have much skill and power. If you look at the results of the past All Star Games, the teams of Pacific League are more likely to be the champions. Also, the Pacific League is famous for the great services that they provide to their fans. They hold events and special benefits are provided to members of the team's fan club. Although stronger the, number of hard-core fans is not as much as the Central League, so efforts to attract more fans are always being made.
In comparison to the Pacific League, there is the Central League, usually called "Ce (Se)-League". Central League also consists of six teams which are "Yomiuri Giants", "Tokyo Yakult Swallows", "Yokohama BayStars", "Chunichi Dragons" "Hanshin Tigers", and "Hiroshima Toyo Carp". Where the Pacific League is praised for its skills and power, Central League is strong for the fans having stronger bondage with each other and for having more passion. Especially, the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers are famous for those passionate fans and their fans' relationship is like that of Yankees and the Red Sox of MLB.
Other than interleague games that are held before season, the teams of these two groups do not play games with each other. However, it is always interesting to see which team makes it to the top and play in the Playoffs.
Also, what is interesting about NPB is that each team has a company name in its team name. This is done for advertisement and promoting is not banned in NPB. Each team is supported economically by a large company. The team and the company is strongly linked and helps support both the team and the NPB prosper. To attract regional fans, putting the name of the home ground (i.e. Tokyo, Fukuoka, Yokohama) has been popularized as well.
Tickets don't cost too much and Stadiums and Domes for NPB are not far at all from major stations in any area. Why not go and enjoy a nice game of Japanese Professional Baseball?