Top 10 Sports in Japan – All The Facts and Details

Top 10 Sports in Japan, Traditional sports like judo and sumo are still hugely popular in Japan, proving that sports have always played a significant role in the country’s culture. However, many Japanese also enjoy playing imported sports like soccer and baseball. The Japanese are introduced to sports at a young age in elementary school, making them frequent sports fans. The majority of people enjoy watching and participating in various sports on a daily basis. You will be pleasantly surprised by the large number of people participating in a variety of sports when you walk in the parks or visit the riverbanks, particularly on weekends. Many people like to watch or participate in sports in their spare time, whether they’re running, yoga, playing baseball, or tennis.

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Tickets for the Grand Sumo Tournaments sell out in an hour, and traditional sports like judo and sumo are popular. Cheering for their team, large crowds frequently attend baseball games. You will be able to share an exciting moment with the locals at the exciting matches if you learn about the trends and culture of sports in Japan. Here is the rundown of famous games in Japan and how you can appreciate them as well. Here we mention some Top 10 Sports in Japan

Top 10 Sports In Japan 

1. Baseball

Since its introduction in 1872 by English professor Horace Wilson, baseball, or Yaky, as it is known locally, has consistently been one of Japan’s most popular sports. Because of its enormous popularity in Japan, baseball is currently adored more in the Land of the Rising Sun than in the United States, where it originated.

The number of Japanese players who have participated in the world’s largest baseball league, Major League Baseball (MLB), demonstrates Japan’s passion for the game. There have been 58 Japanese professional baseball players, and there are currently six active players.

A large number of Japanese local people tune in and spectate the 12 groups containing the nation’s chief association, Nippon Proficient Baseball. A lot of high school students also compete in tournaments against students from other schools. These amateur games between high schools are played not only on a regional but also a national level.

2. Sumo

Sumo is hugely popular sports in Japan that’s Why it’s come in the Top 10 Sports in Japan list. Sumo is known as the public game in Japan and it is one of the most famous games related with Japan around the world. Even though the number of people who watch sumo has been going down over the past few years, the sport is still very popular, especially with people who are older. The two local people and worldwide vacationers love to watch the sumo grappler’s expert exhibitions and passes to the competitions sell out rapidly. Sumo is said to have originated around 1,500 years ago when it was first practiced as a ritual to predict the year’s harvest results. It later created as a sacrosanct service by aristocrats and blue-bloods at the supreme court and became well known among individuals during the Edo Time frame from the seventeenth 100 years.
The two sumo wrestlers known as rishiki attempt to push their opponent out of the ring or force them to touch the ground in the Japanese wrestling style. The dohyo is a circular playing ground. This sumo wrestler officially loses the match when either of these things happen. In odd-numbered months, the Sumo Grand Tournament is held six times a year. The primary stadium for professional sumo matches, Ryogoku Kokugikan, is where the majority of tournaments are held in Tokyo. In the event that you don’t get the opportunity to go to a competition, yet might want to see some wrestling activity, you can likewise visit a sumo pens (basically in Tokyo), and watch the training from very close. We offer tours to the sumo stables, where a local guide will use an audio guide to tell you more about the ancient sport while you watch the practice.

3. Golf

For a while, golf remained almost exclusively a sport for Japanese expats and Western-educated individuals. In 1914, a course in Tokyo introduced it to members of Japan’s more traditional elite. Interest quickly grew, and by 1940, 71 courses were open nationwide. The social class system in Japan was upended after World War II, and as more members of the new middle class began playing golf, a new generation of players emerged. Prior to the burst of the economic bubble in the early 1990s, golf was a new venue for business and a sign of upward mobility.

The Japan Golf Visit was established in 1973 and starting around 2006 it offers the third-most noteworthy yearly award reserve out of the standard players (non-seniors visits) after the PGA and European Visits. Japan has delivered numerous incredible golf players throughout the long term, yet the principal Japanese player to win a significant was Hideki Matsuyama who won the US Bosses recently.

4. Soccer

Because soccer is also well-known in Japan, it ranks among the Top 10 Sports in Japan. There was an ancient “kick ball” sport called cuju that existed long before football. It started in China and spread to Korea and Japan, where it was renamed “kemari.” The Japanese royal family has been playing kenmari, a game in which players use their feet to keep a leather ball off the ground, since 1400 B.C. Fast forward to the 19th century, when football (also known as soccer) was acquainted with the country by Lieutenant-Authority Archibald Lucius Douglas of the English Illustrious Naval force, who instructed it to Japanese naval force trainees somewhere in the range of 1873 and 1879.

Although football associations were established in the 1920s, Japan did not have a national team until 1930. In addition, Japan made its Olympic debut in 1936 at the Berlin Games, where it defeated Sweden 3-2 to earn its first victory.

The primary coordinated public association was coordinated in 1965, comprising of eight novice organization clubs. It remained semi-professional until the establishment of the J.League, or Japan Professional Football League, in 1992. There are currently 18 professional soccer clubs in Japan, and the J.League has produced a number of star players who have gone on to play for major clubs all over the world.

In addition to these leagues, the Japanese national football team has become one of the best in Asia since the 1990s. They have won the AFC Asian Cup four times, in 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2011, while also regularly competing in FIFA World Cups. In addition, it is sufficient to state that the Japanese national football team advanced to the second round of the FIFA World Cup in three of the previous six editions: 2002, 2010, and 2018. The Samurai Blue is the name of the men’s national team.

5. Martial Arts

In spite of the fact that sumo wrestling is the vitally military workmanship and public game in the Place where there is the Rising Sun, there are additionally other Japanese trains that have become very inseparable from the nation and are all around perceived.

Karate is one of the most well-known martial arts. During the 1980s, when dozens of Hollywood films featured the striking-based martial art, it gained international prominence. Karate enamored and motivated huge number of individuals, particularly the Japanese. Over 50 million people worldwide practice this fighting style today.

Judo is yet another well-known martial art. Beside a large number of individuals attempting to become familiar with the battle sport in dojos, a considerable lot of the best Japanese blended military specialists have effectively excelled at judo to upgrade their specialty.

Professional wrestling is an art that has only been accepted as a legitimate sport and is not necessarily accepted by the martial arts community. Albeit ace wrestling is viewed as to a greater extent an exhibition workmanship and “drama” for men, the physicality and rawness included ought to make avid supporters imagine that there is something else to star wrestling besides acting and storylines.

Great many competitors train consistently to arrive at the levels of an association like New Japan Master Wrestling (NJPW). Antonio Inoki, Tetsuya Naito, Jushin Liger, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi are among the legends who have made their names in NJPW and inspired others to do the same.

6. Judo

Along with Sumo, Judo is another traditional Japanese sport. It was developed by the Japanese athlete Kano Jigoro in 1882 as a way to improve mental and physical strength. The term “judo” can be translated as “the gentle way,” emphasizing the significance of technique alongside strength. In 1961, Dutchman Anton Geesink became the first non-Japanese judoka to win gold at the World Judo Championship, forever altering the sport. This success is viewed as a defining moment for the game and judo became famous beyond Japan. It is presently played all over the planet, and its fame keeps on expanding consistently. More than twice as many judokas are currently practicing in France as in Japan. The central standard of Judo regards discipline and politeness, which can plainly be found in official matches when the two players bow when the match. Players need to wear Judogi, a customary Japanese uniform produced using thick white cotton.

7. Tennis

Tennis comes under the 7th category of Top 10 sports in Japan. Tennis is said to have originated in Japan in 1878, when five courts were built in Yamate Park in Yokohama for use by foreigners. Around the same time, western style actual schooling was acquainted with the nation and tennis was generally educated as an actual work instead of a serious game. However, the development of “soft tennis,” which makes use of a flexible, all-rubber ball, was prompted by the high cost of making standard tennis balls. In Japan, soft tennis was the most popular form of the sport by 1886, and it is still taught in public schools today.

Tennis has become an integral part of Japanese culture. At the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Japan won its first Olympic medals in tennis, both of which were claimed by Ichiya Kumagai. In 1957, Empress Michiko and Japan’s Emperor Akihito met on a tennis court in the resort town of Karuizawa. Over 50 million copies of the Prince of Tennis manga series have been sold. Kei Nishikori has also single-handedly boosted the sport’s popularity since becoming the only male Japanese tennis player to ever be ranked in the top 10 in singles. Naomi Osaka has become a superstar in the sport in recent years, winning four grand slam titles and being ranked No. 1. No. 1 female athlete in the world. She has been the main Japanese face on most Olympics 2020 banners in Japan for a very long time paving the way to the games.


8. Table Tennis

Table tennis is a high-class sport that originated in England and became popular among British tennis players in the early 20th century as a rain-related alternative to tennis. Tsuboi Gendo later brought it to Japan, bringing the necessary equipment from Great Britain. Japan is now regarded as one of the strongest nations in table tennis, along with other competitive players, particularly those from China. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Japan came in second only to China with one silver medal and two bronze medals. In spite of this, table tennis is not widely practiced in Japan.

9. Boxing 

Boxing comes in the 9th No. of Top 10 Sports in Japan. Boxing (Bokushingu) is one of Japan’s most popular sports and another cultural import from the West. When Commodore Matthew Perry (not Matthew Perry from friends) visited Shimoda, Shizuoka, Japan, he introduced it to the country for the first time.

On his ships, American Navy soldiers would frequently engage in combat while holding leather in their hands. In Japan, this was the first time boxing was shown.

The Japanese shogunate, or military directors, ordered Tsunekichi Koyanagi, a sumo wrestler, to compete against an American boxer and wrestler. They were interested in the fighting style. The Sumo grappler won the battles.

From that point forward, boxing has developed to turn into a modern and controlled sport in the place where there is the rising sun.

All professional boxers in Japan are required to have a contract with a manager and to be members of a gym, according to the rules of the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC).

Additionally, boxers from the same gym cannot compete against one another.

The fact that very few Japanese boxers hold or even attempt to win world titles is another interesting fact.

Boxers are encouraged to fight within the country by the JBC rules. However, the nation has produced a few weight-class world champions.
The first of whom was Yoshio Shirai, who brought home the world flyweight championship in 1952 and guarded it multiple times.

In Olympic boxing, two Japanese fighters have also won gold. Takao Sakurai won gold at the Tokyo Olympics 1964, and Satoshi Shimizu won gold at the 2012 London Olympics.

The All-Japan Rookie King and Japanese Title Elimination Tournament are the annual boxing competitions in Japan that provide the most entertainment. If you enjoy boxing, you should watch these.

10. Swimming

Swimming also comes in the category of Top 10 Sports in Japan. Many people in Japan enjoy swimming because it is a refreshing sport that can be enjoyed regardless of age or season. Children often choose it as an after-school activity because it helps them get used to swimming and builds physical strength. Albeit Japanese are by and large more modest than Westerners as far as body size, there are various extraordinary Japanese swimmers who have made extraordinary accomplishments in worldwide matches. Over the past few years, Japan was one of the best swimming nations at the Olympics.


What are Japan's strongest sports?

The most popular professional sports in Japan are baseball, association football, golf, tennis and sumo wrestling. Note that most practitioners in the martial arts are not professional, but amateurs.

How important is sports in Japan?

Sports are an essential part of the Japanese culture. While Western sports like baseball and football are well-accepted in Japan, traditional Japanese sports such as sumo, judo, kendo and some other martial arts are also popular. Some of these traditional sports are even accepted as official Olympic Games sports.

What is Japan's national sport?

Technically speaking, Sumo is the national sport of Japan, but with sold-out stadiums around the country, baseball is very popular. Japan's twelve professional baseball teams garner a devoted following from people of all ages.

What sport is Tokyo known for?

Tokyo offers plenty of options for sporting enthusiasts—from baseball, Japan's beloved and most popular sport, to traditional sports such as sumo wrestling and karate.

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