Like other countries, Japanese people enjoy sports. Especially, baseball, soccer are the most popular among all generations, and sumo wrestling is also popular among elderly people. This column will introduce these major sports in Japan.
Japanese baseball is a popular sport, and the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league is the top professional league in Japan. The NPB consists of 12 teams divided into two leagues: the Central League and the Pacific League. The Central League includes teams like the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants, while the Pacific League features teams like the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Baseball has a long history in Japan and attracts many passionate fans. Notably, NPB games are characterized by lively cheers and support from the fans and cheer squads.
In addition, Samurai Japan, the Japanese national baseball team, won the 1st place in World Baseball Classic 2023. Overall, baseball is not only one of the most popular sports in Japan, but also is one of the things that Japanese people are very proud of.
Soccer is also a popular sport in Japan. The Japanese soccer league is called the "J-League," with the J1 League being the top-tier professional league, consisting of 18 teams. Established in 1993, the J1 League has been instrumental in developing the sport in the country. Some of the prominent teams in the league include Kashima Antlers, Yokohama F. Marinos, and Kawasaki Frontale.
The Japanese national team has also performed well on the international stage. In FIFA World Cup 2022, Japan defeated Spain and Germany in the group league, and made it to the knockout stage. Although the team lost against Croatia, its giant success in this World Cup largely contributed to soccer’s popularity in Japan.
Sumo Wrestling; Japan’s National and Traditional Sports
Sumo wrestling is a traditional sport in Japan with deep historical roots. Sumo involves wrestlers facing off in a dohyo, aiming to push their opponent out of the ring or force them to touch the ground with any body part other than their feet. Wrestlers are known for their large physiques and distinctive mawashi attire, and both powerful techniques and strategic moves are crucial.
In Japan, the most famous form of sumo is called "Ozumo" or "Grand Sumo." It attracts attention with its major tournaments (basho) held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. The wrestlers participate in traditional ceremonies such as self-introductions and dohyo-iri (ring-entering rituals) before each match.
These sports are widely cherished as part of Japanese culture and tradition, captivating fans both domestically and internationally.