When Japanese baseball stars like Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka joined Major League Baseball teams in the United States, fans could easily trace their trajectory backward to their roots in the sport.

The fame they gained in the Japanese pro league was predated by the glory they achieved at Koshien — the name of the Hyogo Prefecture stadium and the tournaments played there — where they first made names for themselves.

Unlike other school sports, the Koshien tournaments get huge media coverage, with NHK airing every game, and newspaper and magazine reporters covering the stadium, the students' hotels and hometowns.