Japan is known for its rich cultural heritage and technological advancements, but did you know that it’s also home to some of the most popular sports in the world? From traditional martial arts like Karate and Judo to modern favorites like soccer and basketball, Japan has a diverse sporting scene that caters to all kinds of enthusiasts.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the top 10 most popular sport in Japan and explore what makes them so beloved by locals and visitors alike. So grab your favorite jersey or athletic gear as we dive into the exciting world of Japanese sports!

Sports in Japan are one of the most important parts for the people that live in Japan and have had at most important for the physical health of the people of Japan.  The people of Japan have loved both the traditional sports which include Sumo wrestling and martial arts and the Western Sports which includes sports like Association football, rugby hockey, baseball and basketball. Sports has been popular in Japan both with the players as well as spectators as who enjoy the sport.

Sumo wrestling is considered as the national sport of Japan.  In terms of highest television rating and fans baseball is considered as the top sport of the country where the Nippon Baseball League is considered as the best one in the country.  baseball was introduced to the people of Japan by some of the visiting Americans during the early 19th century and the game had fascinated the Japanese people so much that till date they love it.

Martial arts such as Judo, Karate and modern kendo are the other love of the Japanese people as both the participants as well as the spectators that love this sport since the very beginning.  The growth of association football has been on the rise since the introduction of the Japanese Professional football league in the year 1992 and then the football team of Japan qualifying for back to back World Cups.

Apart from the mainstream sports,  there are some of the Rising in popularity Sports which have been recently invented in the country such as rugby, golf, table tennis, figure skating and auto racing.

In 2021, the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins became the first top-tier professional Japanese sports club to sign on to a climate change initiative, as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Soccer, or football as it’s known in Japan, is undoubtedly one of the country’s most beloved sports. The popularity of soccer can be traced back to the 1960s when Japan began participating in international soccer tournaments. Since then, the sport has grown exponentially with numerous professional teams and a thriving domestic league.

Japanese soccer fans are passionate about their favorite clubs and often attend matches dressed head-to-toe in team colors. One of the most popular teams is Urawa Red Diamonds, based in Saitama prefecture, which boasts a large fan base and regularly competes for national titles.

In addition to club soccer, many Japanese also follow the national team known as “Samurai Blue”. The team has competed at every World Cup since 1998 and even co-hosted the tournament with South Korea in 2002.

Soccer continues to thrive in Japan due to its exciting gameplay, competitive leagues and dedicated fan base. Whether you’re watching from home or cheering on your favorite team at a live match, there’s no denying that Japanese soccer culture is truly unique and captivating.


Baseball is a big deal in Japan and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the country’s most popular sports. The game was first introduced to Japan by American teachers in the 1800s, and since then, has been embraced by Japanese fans.

In fact, baseball is such an integral part of Japanese culture that there are two professional leagues – the Central League and Pacific League – with a total of 12 teams. Each team has its own loyal fan base who attend games dressed up in their team colors and waving flags.

One unique aspect of baseball in Japan is how serious players take their craft. Many aspiring baseball players join high school or college teams where they undergo rigorous training regimes. This dedication pays off as some of these players go on to become stars within the professional leagues.

Another notable feature of Japanese baseball is how supportive fans can be towards opposing teams. Fans often bring homemade banners for both sides as well as snacks to share with other attendees during games.

If you’re ever in Japan during the baseball season, going to a game should definitely be on your list!


Basketball has been gaining popularity in Japan over the past few decades. It was introduced to the country by American soldiers after World War II but did not become mainstream until the 1990s.

One reason for its growing popularity is that basketball can be played indoors, making it a popular choice during Japan’s rainy season. Additionally, the fast-paced nature of the game and the excitement it generates have attracted many Japanese fans.

The professional basketball league in Japan is known as B.

League and consists of three divisions. Many foreign players have joined Japanese teams in recent years, bringing an international flavor to the sport.

Basketball has also gained attention through manga and anime such as Slam Dunk, which tells the story of a high school basketball team aiming to win national championships. This series has inspired many young people across Japan to take up basketball.

While baseball remains king in Japan, basketball continues to grow in popularity among both players and fans alike.


Tennis is one of the most popular sports in Japan, especially among the younger generation. It’s a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires skill, speed, and strategy to win. Many Japanese players have made a name for themselves in the international tennis scene, including Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka.

The popularity of tennis can be seen in the numerous tournaments held throughout Japan each year. These events attract both local and international players who compete for prize money and recognition.

One of the reasons why tennis is so popular in Japan is its accessibility. There are many public courts available for anyone to use, and private clubs offer memberships that allow players to access top-quality facilities.

Another factor contributing to the sport’s popularity is its health benefits. Tennis provides excellent cardiovascular workout while also improving hand-eye coordination, agility, flexibility, and mental focus.

It’s easy to see why tennis has become such a beloved sport in Japan. With its combination of physical activity and tactical gameplay, it offers something for everyone from amateur enthusiasts to professional athletes striving for glory on an international stage.


Golf has been a popular sport in Japan since the late 1800s, when it was first introduced by British expatriates. Today, golf is one of the most popular sports in the country and has a large following among both amateur and professional players.

The popularity of golf can be attributed to its unique combination of physical skill and mental strategy. With beautifully manicured courses set against stunning natural landscapes, playing golf in Japan is a truly memorable experience.

Professional Japanese golfers have also made significant contributions to the sport on an international level. Players like Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa have achieved great success on the PGA Tour, inspiring younger generations to take up the game.

Furthermore, many top-level corporate executives view playing golf as an essential part of doing business in Japan. The sport offers a relaxed setting for networking opportunities and forging new business relationships.

It’s no surprise that golf remains one of Japan’s most beloved sports – with its lush greenery, challenging courses and rich cultural heritage – there’s something inherently special about playing this timeless game here.


Karate is a traditional martial art that originated in Okinawa, Japan. It has been practiced for centuries and has since become one of the most popular sports in the country. Karate is not just about fighting; it’s also about self-discipline, respect, physical fitness, and mental well-being.

In Karate, practitioners learn various techniques such as strikes (punches and kicks), blocks (defense moves), throws, joint locks, grappling and pressure point attacks. These are all designed to help you defend yourself against an attacker. But more importantly than that – practicing karate can improve your overall health by increasing your strength, flexibility and endurance.

What makes karate so unique compared to other martial arts is its emphasis on kata- a series of choreographed movements that simulate real-life combat scenarios. This enables students to develop their reflexes while improving coordination between mind and body.

One of the reasons why karate has grown in popularity over time is due to its inclusion in international tournaments such as the Olympics Games which grants recognition from around the world. With this growing interest internationally Karate seems poised for continued growth within Japan itself making it a significant sport representing Japanese culture both at home & abroad


Judo is a martial art and combat sport that originated in Japan. It was developed by Jigoro Kano in the late 19th century and quickly gained popularity in Japan.

The objective of Judo is to throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize them with a pin, or force them to submit with a joint lock or chokehold. It emphasizes technique over brute strength, making it accessible for individuals of all ages and sizes.

In Japan, Judo is not only practiced as a sport but also as part of educational programs. Children are taught discipline, respect for others, and mental fortitude through practicing Judo.

Judo has been an Olympic event since 1964 when the Summer Olympics were held in Tokyo. Japanese athletes have dominated the sport at the international level, winning numerous medals throughout its history.

Today, Judo remains one of the most popular sports in Japan both for its competitive aspect and its cultural significance.


Boxing is a combat sport that originated in ancient Greece and was later adopted by the Japanese during the Meiji era. Today, boxing has become one of Japan’s most popular sports. It involves two fighters wearing gloves who try to punch each other while trying to avoid being hit.

Japanese boxers are known for their power and technique, which have made them successful in international competitions. They also have a strong following among fans who appreciate their dedication and hard work.

One of Japan’s most famous boxers is Yoko Gushiken, who became world champion in 1981 at just 21 years old. He went on to defend his title seven times before retiring from boxing in 1985.

Another notable Japanese boxer is Naoya Inoue, who holds multiple world titles across different weight classes. Inoue is known for his powerful punches and impressive knockout record.

Despite its popularity, boxing has faced some criticism over the years due to concerns about safety and health risks associated with head trauma. However, many argue that proper training and regulation can help mitigate these risks.

Boxing remains an exciting and thrilling sport that continues to captivate audiences around the world.

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Racing is a traditional sport that has been popular in Japan for centuries. It involves teams paddling long, narrow boats with ornate dragon heads and tails on each end. The sport originated in China but spread to other parts of Asia, including Japan.

The boats used in Dragon Boat Racing are typically made from wood or fiberglass and can hold up to 20 paddlers plus a drummer and steerer. Races take place over distances ranging from 200 meters to several kilometers, depending on the event.

Dragon Boat Racing requires not only physical strength but also teamwork and coordination. Paddlers must work together to power the boat through the water while maintaining rhythm and balance. The drummer helps keep everyone in sync while the steerer navigates the course.

While Dragon Boat Racing is still primarily a traditional sport, it has gained popularity as a competitive event around the world. In Japan, there are numerous festivals featuring Dragon Boat Racing throughout the year.

Participating in Dragon Boat Racing can be an exhilarating experience that combines athleticism with culture and tradition. It’s no wonder this unique sport continues to attract new fans every year!


Sumo is a traditional Japanese sport that has been around for centuries. It’s one of the most popular sports in Japan and is enjoyed by millions of people across the country.

Sumo wrestlers are known for their size and strength, with matches often lasting only a few seconds as each wrestler tries to push his opponent out of the ring or force him to touch the ground with any part of his body other than his feet.

The popularity of sumo goes beyond just being a sport, it’s deeply rooted in Japanese culture and traditions. Sumo wrestlers are seen as symbols of health, strength, and success.

Whether you’re interested in team sports like soccer or baseball, individual sports like tennis or golf, martial arts like karate or judo, or traditional activities like sumo wrestling or dragon boat racing – there is something for everyone when it comes to sports in Japan. These ten most popular sports offer an insight into what makes Japanese culture unique – its love for competition and dedication towards excellence.

Also check out the most Popular Sports in the World.