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Popular Sports to Watch in Japan

sports in japan baseball

There are many countries where sports are popular, but “popular sports” differ from country to country.

For example, American football and ice hockey are popular sports in the U.S., but minor sports in Japan.

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What sports are popular in Japan?

What sports are popular in Japan and what kind of sports are fun to go watch?

In this article, we would like to explain such “popular spectator sports in Japan.

Popular Sports in Japan

In Japan, there are stadiums all over the country and many professional sports games are held mainly on weekends.

Let us list some of the most popular sports among them.


Sumo is Japan’s national sport, but soccer is the most popular sport in Japan.

Nearly one million people are registered with the Japan Football Association, and about 4.3 million play soccer.

It was not so popular until around 1990, but its popularity quickly increased with the establishment of the J-League, a professional league, in 1991.

The birth of the professional league also boosted Japan’s soccer power to the extent that the country participated in seven consecutive World Cups from the 1998 World Cup in France to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

There are professional teams throughout Japan, including 18 “J1” teams and 22 “J2” teams.

Promising Japanese players often move to Europe, but Iniesta, Bojan Krkic, and many Japanese national team players still play in the J-League.

The J-League is also attractive because matches are held on weekends at stadiums around the country, making it easy to watch the games.

The J-League is a league with many players with excellent technique, so soccer lovers will be satisfied.

sports in japan soccer


Although baseball has been overtaken by the popularity of soccer to become the second most popular sport, about 3.8 million people still enjoy baseball on weekends.

Baseball is still a soul sport, especially for those who are currently over 50 years old.

Japan has 12 professional baseball teams, each stadium can accommodate more than 30,000 people.

Their home bases include Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Nagoya, Yokohama, Hiroshima, Saitama, Miyagi, and Chiba.

There are many infected people who enjoy the spectacular professional baseball games while drinking beer.

Shohei Ohtani, a big star in Japan, plays in Major League Baseball in the U.S., but there are many stars in Japan who are also active in the professional baseball world.


Sumo, Japan’s national sport, has a small number of competitors because it is a special sport requiring physical strength to become a rikishi, but it has a large number of spectators (sumo is sometimes described as a “place” rather than a league or tournament).

The highest tournament, the “Honbasho,” is held six times: Hatsu-basho, Haru-basho, Natsu-basho, Nagoya-basho, Autumn-basho, and Kyushu-basho.

Each tournament lasts for 15 consecutive days.

The 15th day is called “Chishuuraku.

There are makuuchi, juryo, and makushita ranks, with yokozuna, ozeki, sekiwake, komusubi, and maegashira being the highest makuuchi ranks.

Only those with overwhelming strength and outstanding character can become yokozuna, the highest rank.

The Hatsu-sho, Summer and Autumn tournaments are held at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, and you are encouraged to attend if the timing is right.

sports in japan sumo


Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world and is also popular in Japan.

There are 420,000 people registered with the Japan Volleyball Association, and it is estimated that there are 3 million players.

The highest level, V1, has 12 women’s teams and 10 men’s teams.

Matches are played in arenas and gymnasiums throughout Japan.


Basketball is another sport that has long been popular.

The number of players is estimated to be about 2.2 million.

The top league, B1, has 24 teams.

Many star players play in the B-League, and top players such as Rui Yamura and Yuta Watanabe are currently challenging the NBA.

There are also many foreign players and former NBA players.

There are 24 teams, so you should be able to watch games all over Japan.


In this article, we have explained about “popular sports that can be watched in Japan.

Sports such as soccer, baseball (base ball), sumo, volleyball, and basketball are very popular in Japan, and games are held in various locations.

Why not visit a venue and watch a game while sightseeing in Japan?

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