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Goin’ Japanesque!

Basics of Japanese: Must-Know Words for Baseball Fans

Baseball (called 野球 yakyuu in Japanese) is a hugely popular sport in Japan. Not only is the major league, Nippon Professional Baseball (or 日本野球機構 nihon yakyuu kikou), popular but also high school baseball teams. Every August in Japan features a nationwide baseball tournament among high schools. This event is known as 夏の甲子園 (natsu no koushien) or “Summer Koushien”. “Koushien” refers to the baseball stadium where the finalists battle it out at the Hanshin Koushien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture.


Player Positions:

  • 投手 (toushu) – pitcher
  • 捕手 (hoshu) – catcher
  • 遊撃手 (yuugekishu) – shortstop
  • 一塁手 (ichi-rui shu) – first baseman
    • 二塁手 (ni-rui shu) – second baseman
    • 三塁手 (san-rui shu) – third baseman
  • 指名打者 (shimei-dasha) – designated hitter
  • 左翼手 (sayokushu) – left fielder
  • 中堅手 (chuukenshu) – center fielder
  • 右翼手 (uyokushu) – right fielder

*When it comes to Baseball, in addition to the Japanese words, it is not uncommon to use English terms pronounced in Japanese phonetics or written in katakana.



  • 野球場 (yakyuujou) – ballpark
  • 本塁 (hon-rui) – home base
    • 一塁 (ichi-rui) – first base
    • 二塁 (ni-rui) – second base
    • 三塁 (san-rui) – third base
  • 内野 (naiya) – infield
  • 外野 (gaiya) – outfield
  • 左翼 (sayoku) – left field
  • 中堅 (chuuken) – center field
  • 右翼 (uyoku) – right field


Describing Plays:

  • 打席 (daseki) – at bat
  • 安打 (anda) – safe hit
  • 二塁打 (ni-rui da) – double
    • 三塁打 (san-rui da) – triple
  • 本塁打 (hon-rui da) – home run
  • 盗塁 (tourui) – stolen base
  • 得点 (tokuten) – run
  • 打つ (utsu) – to hit


Made-in-Japan Words:

  • ナイター (naitaa) – a night game
  • サヨナラゲーム (sayonara geemu) – a home run that ends the game
  • ノーヒットノーラン (noo hitto noo ran) or ノーノー (noo noo) – a game that ends without either team hitting or scoring


Conversation Starters:

  • 野球(やきゅう)をしますか
    • Yakyuu o shimasu ka?
    • Do you play baseball?
  • 守備位置(しゅびいち)はどこですか 
    • Shubi ichi wa doko desu ka?
    • What position do you play?
  • 野球(やきゅう)で一番(いちばん)好(す)きな選手(せんしゅ)は誰(だれ)ですか
    • Yakyuu de ichiban suki na senshu wa dare desu ka?
    • Who is your favorite player in baseball?


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About the author

Katrina has worked as a Japanese language teacher and freelance translator for several years. She loves traveling and has been all over Japan. Click here --> Free Japanese Lessons Practical Japanese Lessons

View all articles by Katrina