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Explore Japan

Sports


Q. Which sports are played professionally in Japan?


A professional soccer match in Japan's J. League.
A professional soccer match in Japan's J. League.

A.

The most popular professional sports in Japan are baseball, soccer, and sumo. There are 12 professional baseball teams - six in the Central League and six in the Pacific League.


Japan's professional soccer league, the J. League, was launched in May 1993. As of 2016, the J. League has 53 teams.


An increasing number of Japanese tennis players are becoming active on the international circuit as professionals.


Participation in Japan's volleyball league was opened up to professionals with the inauguration of the V League in December 1994. The V League also allows the participation of independent teams in addition to corporate-sponsored teams, as before. However, the V League hasn't become fully professional so far.


Japan also has a national rugby league of corporate teams called the “Japan Rugby Top League” (15 players, playing according to Rugby Union rules). Rugby has been recently become popular as a sport in Japan, and the Rugby World Cup will be held here in 2019. Meanwhile, Japan's professional basketball league, the “B. League”, was founded in 2015. Basketball is already popular in Japan, and the B. League will help it become even more so.


Other professional sports in Japan include sumo, boxing, figure skating, and golf.


Photo:PHOTO KISHIMOTO