What Are Famous Sports In Japan?

There are many famous sports in Japan although most people first think of martial arts before anything else. And yes, martial arts do have a big role in Japanese sports culture, but there is a lot more to it. Athletes in Japan are quite versatile and have perfected a wide variety of sports, some of which you may never have heard of.

You can find Japanese stadiums filled with people watching familiar sports like football and baseball. You can also find thousands of people watching men who weigh hundreds of pounds try to topple each other over in a circular stage of sand. Learning about a country's sports culture is fascinating, as it often tells a greater story than the present-day sport itself.


The Japanese Ministry of Education, Sports, Culture, and Science and technology has the responsibility for managing all sporting activities in the country. There is a strong emphasis on physical movement and health in Japan and the government commemorates  Health and Sports Day the second Monday of October each year. Given the importance given to sports in the country, let's check out what the people over in Japan are playing at, you might find yourself just picking up a new sport for the weekends.

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What Are The Most Famous Sports in Japan?

Although Japan has spent a large swath of time completely isolated from the rest of the world, they have quickly been embracing various sports which were introduced at the end of the 19th Century. Surprisingly, these games remain very popular in the country today.

Sumo Wrestling

This is Japan’s national sport. It originated with the Japanese Shinto Ritual which had been depicted as a human wrestling a god. The popularity of Sumo Tournaments was mostly during the 17th century and this happened in Tomioka Hachiman-gu Shrine which is located in Tokyo. Six major tournaments were held in the whole country each year, and each tournament was a 15-day affair. Currently, the highest-ranking Sumo wrestler is Yokozuna, who is famous not only in Japan, but around the world.



Yes. This may surprise you but baseball is a revered sport in Japan. It is in fact considered to be the country’s national sport unofficially. It is known as puro yakyu or simply yakyu but when you say baseball, most people will know what it means immediately. Mostly, there are usually thousands of fans who attend the league games over the weekends and the high school baseball games as well.

This sport was introduced in Japan in 1872, but it started being recognized officially by the league in 1936. The most popular baseball teams in Japan are the Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants. The Japanese game differs from the American one; in that, the Japanese have a bigger and harder ball compared to the American ball.


This word means pro wrestling in Japanese. The sport has been around since 1951, and after several attempts of introducing it in the 20th century, it finally infiltrated the country and has turned out to be one of the most popular and famous sports of all time. The success of this sport is mostly due to famous wrestler, Rikidozan, who is revered in Japan. Other pro wrestlers who certainly hold their own are Tiger Mask, Antonio Inoki, and Giant Baba.



This is believed to have been introduced in Japan in the 19th century when the country constructed five tennis courts for tourists. During the same year, the western style of physical education was also introduced into the country and it was taught as physical activity and not as a competitive sport. It, however, grew greatly, and today, tennis holds a big place in the history of the country ever since Japan won its first-ever Olympic medal in Tennis.

Image Source: Wikipedia.org


Being one of the most popular sports in the world, it is also a big attraction in Japan, and the national team has qualified for the World Cup many times. In fact, during the 2010 World Cup, the country won the group stage for the second time, and this increased the sport's popularity further. Soccer was first organized into a league in 1965. It consisted of eight amateur club. The Japanese professional league, which is known as J.League was then formed.

This was made of nine professional teams from the Japanese Soccer League. Currently, the league has more than 18 professional clubs and a good number of their players have emerged as great such as Hidetoshi Nakamura, Kazuyoshi Miura, and Shunsuke Nakamura. Several players actually play for professional clubs around the world.


This is yet another popular sport in Japan. There are many boxing associations and federations that govern the sport but they are all under the Japan Boxing Commission. The most famous boxer in Japan is Yujiro Watanabe. He is actually considered to be the father of boxing.

Famous Sports in Japan Conclusion

So you see, there is a lot more going on in the world of sports beyond martial arts. In fact, interestingly enough martial arts has grown in popularity in the West, just as more Western-style sports have grown in Japan. The country is improving its talent and getting to be known for many sports on world sports stages like the Olympics. The next time a World sporting event comes around, you might just want to check out the Japanese team, their finesse will surprise you.

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