NPB Baseball Caps

Updated 3/16/20

The baseball uniform market for Japan's major league - Nippon Professional Baseball - is wide open. Typically, the uniform supplier also provides the caps. However, some teams have chosen New Era at one time or another for caps and gone with a separate uniform supplier.



A cap worn by Sadaharu Oh in the 1970s.

There are several major sports and athletic apparel brands that have provided NPB uniforms and caps, such as Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. Former MLB uniform supplier Majestic also supplies uniforms and caps. '47 Brand just recently began supplying caps for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles franchise. Rawlings was also a uniform supplier in the past. Then there are Japanese brands such as Mizuno and Descente that remain popular. Asics has supplied caps and uniforms at one time. Japanese brand Tamazawa was also once a popular uniform and cap supplier but it appears that they mostly supply fielding gloves nowadays. Descente is a major player in the NPB cap and uniform game. They are best known for making pro bicycling outfits and unitards for the Olympics. Descente never broke through in the US, but the brand has been around for a long time and they once provided the Pittsburgh Pirates "bumblebee" uniforms in the 1970s. According to a representative of Japan-Zone.com, a website that sells most contemporary NPB on-field caps "Most teams used Majestic last season, while a few of them have switched to ’47 or New Era this year and the Yomiuri Giants still use Under Armour... There isn’t huge demand for them outside Japan, and designs tend to change every one or two seasons, so we don’t keep many in stock other than the more popular models. Caps will often sell out in the latter half of the season, particularly if a team is doing well."  The representative also stated that not all teams even offer their on-field caps for sale.


A Tokyo Fighters cap most likely from the 80s. This cap has no buckram behind the front panels and uses a piece of plastic mesh to keep it propped up.

Interior shot of a Descente-labeled cap from the late 80s or early 90s. It clearly was made at the same factory that made the Tamazawa-labeled caps.

NPB caps traditionally had a low, round crown with a peak at the top of the front. Nowadays, they look for modern although the crowns are still more shallow. Caps provided by Japanese brands have pre-curved visors. All non-New Era brands supposedly have their caps made at the same factory in Japan, though the representative of Japan-Zone.com disputes that. "Caps and other merchandise are handled by each team independently. So there is no single manufacturer for all teams and, as far as I know, items such as caps are not all made in the same factory."  The caps are made in Tokyo, so NPB must require them to be made domestically just as MLB requires their player-issued caps to be made domestically. The caps use either reinforced mesh or wool, and leather sweatbands appear to have been still in use until recent years and may still be available. The cloth sweatbands come in two different varieties; one-ply black cotton, and a gray and black checker-patterned absorbent band. Most Japanese on-field caps have a small square of white fabric sewn inside the cap, usually covering or near the bottom side of the button. This is for players to write their number. However, I have seen cases where it has not been used and the number was written on the undervisor, a common practice everywhere else. Tagging is also at a bare minimum inside the cap. There is usually no brand label covering the part of the sweatband where it it joined together. The brand label is sometimes sewn into the top of the cap, on the side of the sweatband, or on the fabric tape instead. Sometimes the fabric tape is blank or has the team name as well. Gray undervisors are the norm but some have used black. The undervisor fabric till this day is made of felt. All Japanese on-field caps I own have felt undervisors regardless of when they were made. Traditionally, the NPB caps featured nineteen(!) rows of stitching on the visor. These days it's a bit less. The newest one I own (a 2019 Orix Buffaloes) has ten rows of stitching. Although "logo creeps" on the side of the cap from the suppliers have not shown up yet (incliding New Era) but in recent years, corporate sponsor logos have recently been added to the sides of the cap for certain teams and are actually quite large. The sponsor logos are patches sewn on to the cap.


Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers caps made roughly ten years ago.

A Yokohama DeNA Baystars New Era on-field cap. Notice no flag logo. Unknown at this time if New Era actually contracts to have these made in Japan.

The factory in Japan which I have yet to identify has allegedly been approached by various major brands to make caps for them and the factory refuses. The only non-NPB caps they have ever made was for a men's boutique brand called "Poten" which uses vintage NPB cap construction patterns (complete with 19-stitch visors) and are made with non-baseball materials such as corduroy. I reached out to the owner of Poten, Hironobu Iguchi. Aside from Poten, he runs a small number of other high-end boutique clothing brands such as "Roster Sox," a line of high-quality baseball-themed socks made in Japan. His parent company in Japan is called "Gwynn Co. Ltd.," named after Tony Gwynn. "Hiro" is an avid baseball fan and according to a short bio I found online, he convinced the NPB cap factory to make caps for Poten by being persistent and proving what a huge baseball fan he was. According to a blog I found, Hiro has traveled to the United States and even attended World Series games. Hiro was very friendly in his reply and offered me a free Poten cap. Unfortunately it appears some things got lost in translation and he did not reply to any questions about how and where the NPB caps were manufactured. He also did not reply to any further emails. You can find Poten's official US sales page HERE.


The Poten cap that I received was incredible and the quality was top-notch. A big thank you to Mr. Iguchi.

Detail photos of a 2019 Orix Buffaloes cap showing the NPB logo on the back of the cap, the corporate sponsor patch, and tagging.

If you would like to purchase a contemporary NPB on-field cap, the main place to buy them is at Japan-Zone.com. They offer caps from most of the teams. Goods From Japan and Rakuten also offer Japanese caps, mostly New Era versions. For vintage styles, Ebbets Field Flannels offers various styles at different times and Ideal Cap Co. offers a pretty faithful Yomiuri Giants reproduction.


A game used Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles cap from NPB's championship series. The Golden Eagles won the title that season.

Though I am not 100% satisfied with my Japanese baseball cap research, it has been a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. I definitely still have a lot to learn. I will update this post as new research comes in. If you have any useful information or knowledge about NPB on-field caps, please email me.

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