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How to Use Batting Centers

When an English professor at the Kaisei Academy rounded up some bats and bases in Tokyo in 1872, he could have had no idea the phenomenon that baseball would become in the country. In the United States, the sport’s spiritual home, batting cages are somewhat tougher to find and nowhere near as sophisticated as those in Japan. Batting centers are everywhere in Tokyo, and it pays to know a few things before you go.

  • Appreciate the architecture

    Appreciate the architecture

    Appreciate the architecture

    An odd suggestion, perhaps, but batting centers occupy their own unique place in Tokyo’s urban geography. Asakusa Batting Stadium and its giant glove, stuck in the middle of Asakusa, has become a symbol of the old shitamachi neighborhood around Sensoji. Shinjuku is home to a pair of iconic batting center buildings, Oslo Batting Center and the Shinjuku Batting Center, while the barnlike Otsuka Batting Center is also worth pondering.

  • Stop by the vending machine

    Stop by the vending machine

    Stop by the vending machine

    Each batting center will have a slightly different procedure but most of them operate on game tickets or a chargeable card. At Meiju Jingu Batting Practice, for example, a single game ticket costs 410 yen and will get you 20 balls. The iconic Asakusa Batting Stadium offers 20 balls for 400 yen while the price is 300 yen at Shinjuku Batting Center. Most often, payment is made after stepping inside the cage.

  • Get equipped

    Get equipped

    Get equipped

    Before stepping up to the plate, many batting centers will direct you to a rack of shoes and socks so that you can make a quick change. The change in footwear keeps the area tidy but also seems to add a psychological boost to one’s swing. After that, grab your helmet and bat.

    Get equipped

    Get equipped

  • Get the speed right

    Get the speed right

    Get the speed right

    More rudimentary batting centers like the ones at Active Akiba and Otsuka Batting Center offer a simple option of fast, medium, slow, and various, but other centers offer more customization. Equipment can vary from cage to cage, so it sometimes requires a few attempts to get things right. Some take the batting center very seriously but the ability to customize speed means that—as well as those who dream of a tryout with the Nippon Ham Fighters—complete amateurs can have fun, too.

  • Choose who’s on the mound

    Choose who’s on the mound

    Choose who’s on the mound

    All batting centers allow you to choose an appropriate ball speed but others take it a step further, offering the chance to swing at a fastball from Shohei Otani or a southpaw circle changeup from Eijun Sawamura, the star of the Ace of Diamond manga. Some batting centers even give you the option of paying to use a professional bat, in case you feel the need to upgrade before facing Sawamura.

    Choose who’s on the mound

    Choose who’s on the mound

    Meiji Jingu Batting Practice

    Meiji Jingu Batting Practice

    Jingu Batting dome
    Address
    Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Kasumigaokamachi 2-1
    Phone
    0334786800
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