(March 26 to April 9)

A new format has been established at this tournament for the first time in Japan. The order in which strikes and balls are declared has been changed. In Japan, the strike is indicated before the ball. But this time, they've used the the American way. It's the first time that the ball-first-call is used officially in Japan.

The tournament this time has been obstructed by the weather. It is usually conducted in 11 days at Koshien Stadium near Osaka. However, the rain has affected the schedule of the games. In the end, games were behind schedule by 4 days. This situation has occurred for the first time in 64 years. Teams which have made it to the semi-finals have had to miss the start of the new school year.

The final game was played between Tenri and Chukyodaichukyo. Tenri won 4 to 1 to become the best of the 32 schools that have been selected to play at the traditional ground at Koshien.


The 14-day tournament began on August 8, 1996 at Koshien Stadium located between Kobe and Osaka. As usual, 49 teams represented the Japanese prefectures. Unfortunately, the annual championship is not as popular as it used to be these few years. This can be proven by the fact that the stadium reached full capacity only on the 11th day of the tournament. That's the day the baseball elite school team PL Gakuen played. Many pro baseball stars have been born from this school. But this time, noone is a household name.

The finals took place August 21. Kumamoto Kogyo faced Matsuyama Shogyo. The high school from Kumamoto, southern Japan, has in the past has come as far as second place in 1934 and 1937. Its opponent from Ehime Prefecture has clinched the national title 5 times before.

Now, the final game between the two game was a thrilling one. Kumamoto caught up in the 9th inning with a homer, tying the game 3 to 3. In the bottom of the 10th inning, with one out and bases full, Kumamoto player hit the ball deep to the right. Noone doubted that the game would end here with Kumamoto clinching its first ever high school championship. However, Kumamoto runner was killed at homebase. In the top of the 11th inning, Matsuyama Shogyo batted in 3 runs, winning the game.

The entire championship has been summed up as one of the worst quality in its 78 year history. There were a number of errors between catchers and pitchers, as well as out in the fields.