Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Training in Okinawa

Tokyo’s Yomiura Giants play at Onoyama Stadium in Naha

It’s baseball season in Okinawa!

The Yomiuri Giants, one of Japan’s most popular teams, spends spring training at it’s new home stadium in Naha City. The Giants, along with 9 other Japanese professional teams and four Korean teams, call Okinawa home each year as they fine-tune their games for the 2011 season. Only the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Seibu Lions will not train in an Okinawa location.

Baseball was introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, and professional leagues were begun in 1934. The professional circuit is divided into two six-team leagues, the Central League with the Yomiuri Giants, Hiroshima Carp, Hanshin Tigers, Chunichi Dragons, Yokohama Bay Stars and Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The Pacific League is comprised of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the Orix Buffaloes, Chiba Lotte Marines, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Saitama Seibu Lions and Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

The new Onoyama Staidium will also host this year’s 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, when Okinawan’s from all over the world return to the islands to reconnect with their heritage and culture and to redevelop linkages to their motherland.