One of the best value options for entertainment while you’re in Osaka is in the center of the city at Kyocera (Osaka) Dome, home of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes. Even if you’re not a keen fan of the national sport of Japan, a visit to an Orix game is a memorable experience.
I recently took in a Friday night game featuring the Buffaloes versus the visiting Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Not only are the Hawks the two-time defending champions, but the Hawks are originally are from Osaka, playing in the nearby former Osaka stadium until 1988.
Tickets and Seats
Kyocera Dome holds a bit more than 36,000 fans for baseball, and as you would expect there are a lot of options for seating. Unlike stadiums in the US, great seats can be had for a bargain – unreserved seats in the infield run at 2400 yen (a bit less than US $25), and even seats behind the dugouts cost just 5000-7000 yen.
The best value are the outfield seats at 1800 yen (less than US $20) – not only the cheapest seats in the stadium but a fantastic place to meet Osaka fans as the outfield seats are where the loudest, most hardcore fans hang out.
If you show up to the game not knowing anyone in the stadium, you’ll surely leave with many new friends as Osaka fans love to talk and chat with newcomers.
For my visit, I must have chatted with 30 or 40 people I didn’t know ahead of the game, people who just loved to have a good time and talk about baseball. So fun!
Checking out the outfield cheering sections is definitely a “must do” – I recommend getting an infield seat, though, as with an infield seat you can easily move between the infield and the outfield during the game, but if you have an outfield ticket you can’t move to the infield.
At the ticket counter, ask for “naiya jiyuuseki” for infield unreserved and “gaiya jiyuuseki” for outfield unreserved.
Enjoying the Game
If you’re a fan of MLB in the US, you may be surprised to see how different the experience of watching a game in Japan can be. Games in the US generally do not feature any organized cheering, but in Japan, every team has its own cheering group called the “ouendan”. At Kyocera dome, the Orix ouendan watches the game from the right field seats, and for every player they lead the stadium in a song written just for that player.
Not only are there player songs, but also songs when there is a chance to score, songs when a run is scored, songs for all sorts of situations.
A very cool aspect of NPB games is how the fans of the visiting team are also warmly welcomed. At Kyocera Dome, the visiting Hawks fans had reserved cheering seats in the left outfield stands, cheering their team with a vigor greater than the number of fans might suggest. Baseball games naturally have an ebb and flow, and adding competing ouendans to the on-field competition creates a cheering dynamic between the road and home fans that really livens up an otherwise regular game.
Where an MLB game features a singalong of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th inning stretch, an Orix game has the “Lucky 7”. Before the start of the bottom of the 7th inning, Orix fans inflate long (usually dark blue) “Rocket Balloons”, the stadium PA plays the Orix song “Sky” (my favorite team song in NPB), and as the final notes play all fans release their balloons at once.
The signature song for the Orix ouendan is the “Towel Dance”, which is used in scoring chance situations. It’s a complicated dance – the team passes out a guide for fans to learn how to join in – but it’s fun to give it a try even if getting it perfectly correct is something that takes some practice. Don’t worry, if you try it at Kyocera, a friendly fan is sure to help you out.
Food and Drink
There are three levels inside the stadium, each has a variety of choices including Western and Japanese food. Major food chains like Mos Burger and KFC have outlets inside, and vendors sell a huge range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, including whiskey, sake, Japanese shochu, and even craft beer. One shop in left field sells the award-winning local craft brewery Minoh Beer – a real treat for beer lovers as this is possibly the best brewery in Japan.
Kyocera Dome has undoubtedly some of the best food choices of any park in Japan.
If you prefer to order drinks from your seats, you can order from one of the numerous “uriko” – young women who carry small kegs of beer on their backs, ready to sell draft beer at your seat. You can easily order soft drinks, whisky, and many more drinks and snacks from one of the roaming uriko as well.
For those wanting to save a bit of money, it’s perfectly acceptable to bring your own food or drink into the stadium as well – imagine trying that at Yankee Stadium!
Finding your way to Kyocera Dome Osaka is easy from anywhere in Osaka. The stadium is serviced by three major stations – Dome-Mae Chiyozaki Station on the Osaka Subway, Dome-Mae Station of the Hanshin Nanba Line, and Taisho Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line. The spacecraft-like shape of the dome is immediately visible from any of the stations, making navigation a breeze.
This article and photos were compiled by Steve Novosel who writes about Japanese baseball at welovemarines.com. Contact Steve on Twitter @lovelovemarines.