Nagoya’s Team: The Chunichi Dragons

When you think of Japanese sports, you may think of martial arts. But ask a local about their favorite sport. In that case, you might be surprised to hear that baseball is considered Japan’s national pastime and the largest professional sports competition in terms of television ratings and spectators. In Nagoya, we have one of the biggest teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball, the Chunichi Dragons.

Nippon Professional Baseball (similar to the USA’s MLB) consists of two leagues: the Central League (Chunichi Dragons, Hanshin Tigers, Hiroshima Toyo Carp, Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Yokohama DeNA BayStars, and Yomiuri Giants) and the Pacific League (Chiba Lotte Marines, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Orix Buffaloes, Saitama Seibu Lions, and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles). There are also two minor leagues, the Eastern and Western Leagues.

Baseball season in Japan starts in late March or early April with spring training. It continues with games nearly every day, six days a week with Mondays off, until October, when the annual playoffs called the “Climax Series” decides which team from each league will compete in the Japan Series for a chance at the national championship. If you want to check the schedule and other details about Chunichi Dragon in English, you can do that here.

Founded in 1936 under the name Nagoya Club, the Chunichi Dragons are one of the most powerful teams in the league. Although they won their first Japan Series championship in 1954, they didn’t win again until 2007 after a playoff system put in place allowed them to take the top title despite not winning the Central League, breaking a 53-year drought, the longest in NPB history. The team is best known as the one joined by Tom Selleck in his 1992 movie Mr. Baseball.

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, a trip to Nagoya Dome, the Dragons’ home since 1997, can be a great day out. Ticket prices are relatively cheap, and there’s a great family atmosphere in the stands, with children mingling happily with the diehard fans, singing and chanting their heroes on. However, new supporters, particularly those with young families, should know that costs may rise dramatically as merchandise prices increase. Purchasing a pair of small plastic baseball bats to hammer together in time with the chants is almost obligatory. Then there are the miso kushi katsu, karaage, French fries, sausages on sticks, and stadium staff bringing beer kegs to your seat. You can also buy caps, jerseys, and even Koala ears to mimic those of the extremely popular Dragons’ mascot, a giant blue, back-flipping Koala bear.

The Chunichi Dragons’ home field is The Nagoya Dome Vantelin Dome Nagoya in Ozone, constructed in 1997. The geodesic dome was intended as a baseball field and event space and can seat 40,500 people. The official theme song for The Nagoya Dome, “Here For You,” was written by local foreign FM radio disk jockey James Havens.

461-0047 Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Higashi Ward, Daikominami, 1-1-1  (map)

Buying Tickets

You can get your tickets from Lawsons (L-code [44 + 3 figure date]) or from Circle K, Ticket Pia or SunKus (P-code 591-090). If you prefer, you can also buy your tickets on the day of the match at the Nagoya Dome Ticket Booths located near Gates 1 and 8. The ticket booths are open from 10:00 until the end of the fifth inning. Infield seats and outfield seats are available at different prices. Children can get tickets at a discounted price. If you require more information in Japanese, please visit the Dragons’ website.


neko kabachi, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eugene Ormandy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons