Sumo or Baseball?

When asked what the national sport of Japan is, people usually make one of two replies: Sumo or baseball. Sumo, with its thousand-year history, might have a slight edge, but baseball is now deeply rooted in Japanese society, too! Almost all schools, companies and local communities have their own baseball clubs. Even shopkeepers and their staff often have their own teams.

Baseball is so popular in fact that when the national baseball tournament among high school students is played most Japanese are glued to their televisions and radios for several days ...

Fear that last year's devastating earthquake would force cancellation of the game, the citizens pitched in and helped provide adequate housing for the visiting players. The tournament is so important to Japanese culture that, according to Megumi Osugi of the Japanese Embassy in Warsaw, "... without the toumament, spring does not start."

For fifty years the Japanese have been enjoying professional baseball. There are two leagues with a total of twelve teams attracting over 16 million fans annually.