Maiko Throws First Pitch at Koshien Baseball Stadium

Japan’s take on baseball is a little different since the adoption of the American sport. The ceremonial first pitch added an element of Japanese uniqueness in 1908 when the first professional team from the United States came to tour Japan, and former Prime Minister and founder of Waseda University,  Okuma Shigenobu, was to throw the first pitch.

Apparently, the throw fell short and rolled to a stop. In the midst of Americans running to pick up the ball, the batter swung and missed in order to make it a strike, rather than a failed throw. Very noble. Since then, it has always been customary to swing and miss the first pitch in Japanese baseball.

The people throwing these first pitches are varied, and in May this year a Maiko (Geisha in training) from Kyoto, named Kanako, pitched the ball. Dressed in full ceremonial kimono and geta (sandals worn with kimono), with a bright yellow Tigers glove, she threw the ball which was caught in the catcher’s glove.


She was presented her yellow geta and glove as keepsakes, and in the interview said she was able to throw well.  She said: “I was too nervous to remember. But I managed to throw the ball straighter than I did during practice.” For those who don’t know, Maiko must learn a full Kyoto dialect, so when interviewed she naturally spoke in such.

“I was really nervous, but it was fun. I enjoyed the experience,” she said afterward.

If you plan to go and see a baseball event in Japan send us your pictures and let us know if the ceremonial first pitch was an interesting one! From Sadako (The Ring-style scary longhaired ghost women) to Maiko, Japan certainly takes this sport unto its own.


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