Japan is a country located in east Asia. It is home to Nippon Professional Baseball; professional baseball in Japan dates back to 1936. Amateur baseball has been prominent nationally even longer, with the Koshien Tournaments being the most notable baseball event in Japan until (and even perhaps after) the creation of the Japan Series. The Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame honors Japan's baseball greats. The Japanese national team has been successful in many events, including winning the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.
The first Japanese player to play in Major League Baseball was Masanori Murakami, in 1964 and 1965. He had taken advantage of a loophole to pitch for the San Francisco Giants, but it was soon closed, and it was not until Hideo Nomo made a sensational debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 that the door truly opened for Japanese players in North America. In contrast, NPB had long been open to gaijin (i.e foreign) players, and there were a number of Japanese-born American players in the majors, starting with Bobby Fenwick in 1972.
- Manny Randhawa: "Japan's most influential MLB players: Ichiro, Nomo among bevy of stars from Land of the Rising Sun", mlb.com, December 30, 2019.