Japan, like many other countries around the world, has a passion for sport. They compete at the world stage across another of different competitions including the World Cup in football and the Olympics where they are always represented by one of the largest teams at the event.
Japan has particularly invested money into football, baseball and martial arts in recent years and here is a look at how those sports are developing in the country.
The J-League is the top professional league in Japan and was formed in 1993 to help the national team progress as a nation. The top division in Japan is now able to attract some of the finest players from around the world to the league.
Kashima Antlers are the reigning champions in Japan and they are the most successful club in the history of the J-League with eight titles to their name since the opening season of the top flight in the country.
“Japan-Australia World Cup Qualifier in Y” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by sean in japan
Japan have been able to qualify for the last five consecutive World Cups. The nation joint-hosted the tournament in 2002, along with South Korea, where they were able to reach the last 16 before being eliminated by Turkey. The legacy of that competition meant they now have a number of world class stadiums across the country which has helped their national league.
The 2018 World Cup will be help in Russia where Japan will be hoping to be one of the Asian Football Confederation representatives. They are 100/1 with William Hill – The Home of Betting, to be the first Asian club in history to win the tournament in two years’ time.
Baseball has been played in Japan since 1872 and it is one of the most popular sports in the country. The Nippon Professional Baseball league was founded in 1950 and consists of two leagues of six teams, the Central League and Pacific League. The two winners from each league then compete in the Japan Series where the Championship series is determined. In 2016 Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters beat Hiroshima Toyo Carp for the title.
“Master Sgt. Christopher Stevens” (CC BY 2.0) by familymwr
The sport is played by almost every school in Japan therefore those growing up in the country are able to partake at an early age. If successful, the best in the nation are able to form a career in the Nippon Professional Basketball League, while some Japanese players then travel to the USA to play in the Major League Baseball.
Japan has a huge history in martial arts. Those traditions have continued into modern day sports. Judo, karate, aikido and iaido are four of the most popular of martial arts in Japan today.
You only have to look at their success in the Olympics and World Championships to see how successful they continue to be as they lead the way in the world.
The martial arts which children are taught from a young age can be used as in competition but also as a form of self-defence therefore parents in Japan are very keen for their children to take part.
What Does The Future Hold For Sport In Japan?
Many people have predicted that there will be an Asian winner of the World Cup in football before 2030. Given how much Japan have invested into their league, it could well be Samurai Blue.
Baseball and martial arts are always going to be two of the most popular sports in the country, while rugby union appears to be growing most recently, especially following the national team’s victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.