Batting centers バッティングセンター
Need to unwind? Want to hit some balls? Batting centers are made for you! Riding on the Japanese craze for baseball , these establishments offer an attractive alternative to karaoke to all those who would like to try the national sport at a lower cost. Much more than simple leisure centres, batting centers are now a real social phenomenon . Discovery of this emblematic activity of Japanese popular culture.
Whether they are perched on rooftops, offering a breathtaking view of the city they overlook, or located at the bend of a main street, batting centers are everywhere. Composed of several individual boxes , separated by safety nets, these leisure centers are based on a simple concept: come and hit balls thrown by an automatic machine.
Operation of batting centers
Each center is equipped with a distributor allowing to buy tokens. For 300 yen (2€) on average, you will thus have around twenty coins, each equivalent to one shot.
Once the tokens are in hand, all you have to do is choose a box .
Distributed generally according to the handling of the bat (right or left), all the boxes are equipped with a machine allowing you to best configure your game, from the height of the ball cannon, to the speed of the throws. This last parameter is not to be overlooked!
Indeed, although the average speed of the bullets does not exceed 80 km/h, some centers have guns that can go up to 200 km/h!
Fortunately, safety devices have been put in place: wearing a helmet is mandatory, a mattress behind the player to retrieve ''lost'' balls, batting centers remain above all places of leisure, very popular with young and old alike.
Once the final settings have been made, grab your bat and insert the chips into the machine: the game can finally begin!
A social phenomenon
Although batting centers are now essential on the archipelago, it has not always been so.
Imported directly from the United States in the mid-1960s, the batting center concept did not become popular in Japan until the early 1980s. and attract both sports enthusiasts and curious little ones looking for a new activity to do with family or friends.
However, the golden age of batting centers was only short-lived. And the recession having a dangerous impact on the budget dedicated to leisure, as well as the rise in popularity of football, will quickly turn the Japanese away from these centers.
It will then be necessary to wait until the beginning of the 2000s for batting centers to regain their letters of nobility, thanks in particular to television. TV games where participants have to compete against each other by hitting the ball, professional baseball stars who now use automatic cannons during their training, the world of entertainment is gradually re-popularizing batting centers with the general public.
Today, the archipelago has more than 540 centers . Generally open from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. the next morning, these establishments are an integral part of the Japanese daily landscape. From young couples who came to frolic with bats in hand, to students and office workers anxious to relax after a hard day, batting centers have succeeded in attracting a large part of the population.
And for those who still hesitate to challenge the automatic cannons, many centers also offer arcade games and offer the possibility of practicing mini-golf . In case baseball isn't necessarily your cup of tea...
To discover : Tokyo Dome City