Last updated : March 1st, 2019
If you're arriving in town during the season, don't miss the chance to catch a ballgame even if you're not that big of a baseball fan, I guarantee you will find the experience interesting. The season starts around the last weekend of March and continues on until early October. There are two teams in Tokyo and another three in the vicinity, so usually there will be at least one game going on somewhere. Just keep in mind there are usually no games on a Monday, unless it falls on a National Holiday. Games typically start at 6pm on weekdays and anywhere between 1-3pm on the weekends, though this can vary depending on the team. During the hot summer months (July-mid September), most games are moved to the night slot starting from 6pm.
When getting tickets, take the following into consideration:
Home team fans sit on the first base side, the visiting team on the third base side (It's the opposite at the MetLife Dome; home fans on the third base side)
The most loyal fans occupy the outfield bleachers with continuous cheering/noise throughout the game. In contrast, seats behind home plate are much quieter, but often reserved for season ticket holders.
Many teams have begun to introduce tiered pricing; prices for seats depend on the expected demand and whether it's a weekday or weekend. Games on weekends and holidays will always attract higher demand regardless of the teams they are facing. Weekday games earlier in the season (April/May) are easier to get. From late June to mid July, the Tokyo area heads into a wet season; getting tickets for the Tokyo Dome or MetLife Dome will minimize risks of the game being washed out.
Meiji Jingu Kyujo (Jingu Stadium)
Home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows/Central League
Opened : 1926
Capacity : 34,572
GOOD: Wonderful atmosphere, tickets almost always available, fireworks after the 5th inning during the summer months
BAD: Showing its age in many areas, limited number of toilets. Occasionally visiting fans outnumber the home fans.
FYI: Amateur games are played here almost everyday during spring/autumn. Therefore the Swallows play a majority of their home games in the evening, usually starting at 6 pm.
Home of the Yomiuri Giants/Central League
Opened : 1988
Capacity : 46,000
GOOD : No worries about rain (First domed stadium in Japan)
Excellent access to multiple trains and subways lines
BAD : Despite large capacity, tickets are difficult to get. Not the most ideal place to go on a perfectly sunny day. Food and drinks overpriced; a beer costs 800 yen
FYI: The Nippon Ham Fighters also used to call the Dome home before they moved to Sapporo. They still play about 8 or 9 games here so check the schedule. Tickets to the Fighters games are much easier to get.
Home of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars/Central League
Opened : 1978
Capacity : 33,000 (New seats were added to right field in 2019)
GOOD : Location next to Chinatown and central Yokohama, new ownership introducing fun entertainment before/during games. Try the Baystars Lager.
BAD : Lots of very steep stairs to climb if sitting in the upper sections. Lack of any roof at all in the seating section - bring the sunscreen (or raingear)
FYI: The BayStars sold about 97% of its seats for home games in 2018. Booking tickets in advance is essential even for a weekday ballgame. Construction is underway to increase the capacity to 35,000 in time for 2020 when the park hosts the baseball competition in the Olympics.
ZOZO Marine Stadium (Renamed from QVC Marine Field)
Home of the Chiba Lotte Marines/Pacific League
Opened : 1990
Capacity : 30,082
GOOD: Always some fun events going on. Most of the upper deck covered by a roof. Constant winds blowing from the outfield keeps things cool even in the summer
BAD: Can get quite cold in spring/autumn. Bit far from central Tokyo and another 15 minute walk from the Kaihim Makuhari Station.
FYI: This ballpark to the east of central Tokyo in Chiba is known for its proximity to Tokyo Bay - in fact you can see the waters beyond the outfield walls if you sit up high in the upper deck. ZOZOTOWN, a company that runs online shopping sites bought the naming rights to the park in 2016.
MetLife Dome (renamed from the Seibu Prince Dome)
Home of the Seibu Lions/Pacific League
Opened : 1979 / Roof Added : 1999
Capaticy : 33,556
GOOD : It's right next to a rail station.
BAD : Can feel like being in a sauna during the summers. No air-con despite being a dome. Can be very far if traveling from eastern Tokyo.
FYI: What used to be a beautiful ballpark in the western hills of Saitama changed for the worse when the club decided to erect a roof back in 1999. However they chose not to put walls hoping to retain some "natural feel" to the place. Unfortunately, things didn't work as planned to let the hot air escape during the summer, and conditions can get so bad to the point players have been forced to leave the game after showing symptoms of heat stroke.
Of the five teams in the Tokyo area, the Giants have pretty decent information in English, including the option to buy tickets.
Giants English Website: http://www.giants.jp/en/
The Swallows also recently added the option to book tickets in English http://www.yakult-swallows.co.jp/en/
The Yokohama BayStars have limited information in English, but only Japanese for ticketing. Their games tend to sell out in advance. So far, the Marines and Lions only have their website in Japanese. However you can usually get tickets for these two teams on game day directly at the ballpark.