Sports Overview

Sports Originating From Japan

Image of a judo uniform
Photo:Judo uniform

There are many ancient Japanese sports, including Aikido, Iaido, Karate, hunting, Kyudo (traditional Japanese archery), Kemari, Kenjutsu, Kendo, Ju-jitsu, Judo, Shurikenjutsu, Sumo, Falconry, Kite flying, Yabusame (horseback archery), etc., but the oldest Japanese sports are said to be Kyudo and hunting.

Sumo, an ancient Japanese sport, has been practiced as a contest of strength since before the Asuka period.
Sumo is not only a sport, but also a ritual based on the ancient Japanese religion, Shinto; this is one of the characteristics of traditional Japanese sports.
With the advent of popular wrestlers such as Raiden in the Edo period, sumo became widely popular among the people of Japan, and today it is one of the most famous sports in the world.
In the Heisei period (1989), the first foreign yokozuna (highest sumo wrestler rank) was born.

Developed from traditional Japanese martial arts, Budo (武道) is the art of killing and subduing people, with the addition of "道" (pronounced "dou," street, journey, path), which aims to perfect one's character through the practice of the art.
Modern law following the Meiji period forbade the killing of people and the concept of martial arts declined. The addition of "dou," which was to train oneself and improve one's body and mind, has been passed down to modern times.
Today, there are nine types of "Budo": judo, kendo, kyudo, sumo, karate-do, aikido, shorinji kempo, naginata, and jukendo, which emphasize the importance of mind, technique, and physique.

Other sports that originated in Japan and are known throughout the world include Ekiden, Kyotei, Keirin, Gateball, soft tennis, men's rhythmic gymnastics, and nanshiki baseball (Japanese-style baseball, not to be confused with baseball in Japan).

A Number of Popular Sports in Japan

Image of a soccer stadium
Photo:Soccer stadium

Baseball, soccer, golf, figure skating, volleyball, basketball, rugby, track and field, tennis, horse racing, American football, swimming, table tennis, and Formula 1 are all popular sports in Japan.
In particular, there are professional baseball teams in Japan, and many fans are as enthusiastic as MLB (Major League Baseball) fans in the U.S. The Japanese national baseball team, known as Samurai Japan, is high in the world rankings, and Japan sometimes holds world championships and world cups.
High school baseball is also very popular in Japan, although it is, of course, an amateur sport.

Professional soccer teams in Japan's J-League are also popular, and players who are selected for the national soccer team are generally active in overseas soccer teams as well.
Motor sports are also popular in Japan, as the country is a major car manufacturer, with F1 (Formula 1) and the Suzuka 8-hours (motorcycle endurance road race) being extremely popular.

The following is a ranking of popular sports in Japan:

No. 1 Professional Baseball
No. 2 Professional Soccer (Football)
No. 3 Professional Tennis
No. 4 Sumo
No. 5 Professional Golf
No. 6 Car racing (F1, etc.)
No. 7 Professional Boxing
No. 8 Pro Wrestling

Japanese Athletes Competing Worldwide

According to a survey by AirTrip, athletes topped the list of "Japanese Male Athletes Thought to Be the Most Prominent in the World in 2019."

No. 1 Shohei Ohtani [Baseball]
No. 2 Rui Hachimura [Basketball]
No. 3 Ichiro [Baseball]
No. 4 Yuzuru Hanyu [Figure Skating]
No. 5 Kento Momota [Badminton]
No. 6 Kei Nishikori [Tennis]
No. 7 Naoya Inoue [Boxing]
No. 8 Michael Leitch [Rugby]

"Japanese Female Athletes Thought to Be the Most Prominent in the World in 2019."

No. 1 Naomi Osaka [Tennis]
No. 2 Hinako Shibuno [Golf]
No. 3 Rika Kihira [Figure Skating]
No. 4 Mima Ito [Table tennis]
No. 5 Mao Asada [Figure Skating]

As you can see, there are a number of talented Japanese athletes active globally.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Image of Japan National Stadium
Photo:Japan National Stadium

The 32nd Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Tokyo in 2020, but have been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 (*as of August 2020).
Tokyo will host the Olympic Games for the first time in 57 years and will be the first city in Asia to host the Olympic Games multiple times.
The games are scheduled to take place from July 23rd to August 8th, 2021.
The National Stadium, which served as the stadium for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was transformed into a new stadium, and in addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, there will also be track and fields events as well as soccer in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
After the Tokyo Olympic Games, the stadium will be used for various sports and cultural events.

Nowadays, popular sports can be watched not only on TV, but also on the Internet.
In addition to sports results, you can watch popular highlight videos, historical and legendary sports scenes, and god-like plays.

COOL JAPAN VIDEOS is a site that introduces the charms of Japan through videos related to sports in Japan and Japanese athletes around the world!