The end of winter means it's time for high school
baseball action once again! (Kyodo)
The National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament is held each year for around 10 days starting in late March at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.
Baseball is one of Japan's most popular spectator sports, along with soccer and sumo. Total attendance at the games of Japan's two professional baseball leagues (Central and Pacific Leagues) in 1997 topped 23 million. The most popular amateur competition, meanwhile, is the high school tournament, played in the spring and summer among several dozen of the country's best teams.
The summer competition is fought among the 49 schools that win their respective prefectural titles. (There are 47 prefectures in Japan, but Tokyo and Hokkaido have two divisions each.) The spring tourney, meanwhile, invites 32 schools that had the best records in each regional division during the fall season of the year before.
The invitational, held during spring break, began in 1924, nine years after the summer competition started in 1915.