Koshien refers to the two annual baseball tournaments that involve high schools from all across the country and conclude with a championship game at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Japan. The National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in the spring is coordinated by the Japan High School Baseball Federation in collaboration with Mainichi Shimbun. But do you know what the losing team brings home after the game?
The Japanese National High School Baseball Championship has been played on the same field since 1924, and each losing team’s players receive a bag of soil from the field as a souvenir of their brief time there.
The Tradition for Losing
Each member of the losing side and their teammates rakes up a scoop of dirt from the field and places it in a bag to take home with them after every Koshien game. In the 1949 tournament, this practice spread after a losing pitcher knelt in defeat and accidentally collected some dirt from the playing surface in his pocket.
This immediately gained popularity, and several teams from all around the nation adopted it. Because third-year athletes will never again have the opportunity to participate in the competition, this trend is particularly prevalent during the summer event. This now-famous custom of removing dirt from the revered Koshien stadium is done in remembrance of the privilege of competing in the competition. (Source: Japan World Travel)
The Cheering Section Tradition
The Alps Stands, located on the first and third base sides of the field, are another important tradition for supporting each school’s team. Each team’s supporter base is located on one side or the other of these steeply sloping seats.
Baseball players from the school who didn’t make the first team, brass band members, cheerleaders, other students, and alumni from each school all contribute significantly to the support of the athletes. Every school has a song or anthem that fans in the stands sing along to as they root for their team. Each player also has a song to sing when they are at bat, among other cheers. One of the highlights of every tournament is the players’ passion and unwavering spirit, which inspires them to play their best. (Source: Japan World Travel)
The History of Koshien
It all began in 1915 with the National High School Baseball Championship, which is today known as the Summer Koshien competition. At the time, the competition was not known as Summer Koshien and was staged in several baseball parks and stadiums. The organization pushed for the construction of a larger stadium as the tournament gained popularity in order to accommodate the growing number of spectators.
The Hanshin Electric Railway Company put out the idea of urbanizing the area near the train. This would entail developing the north side of the main line as a residential neighborhood and the south side as an amusement park and sports complex. The National High School Baseball Championship was played in the Hanshin Koshien Stadium, which was constructed in 1924 as a part of the development project along the railroad line, the Summer Koshien. (Source: Japan World Travel)
Image from Travel.Gaijinpot