Sports has long been a significant part of Japanese culture. Traditional sports such as sumo, judo and other martial arts as well as Western sports like baseball are popular both for participants and spectators. There are also sports activities one may enjoy outdoors in beautiful natural surroundings. As the organizing country of 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Japan has become center stage for athletes from around the world.
leak_addEnjoy Traditional Japanese Sports
Sports are an essential part of the Japanese culture. While Western sports like baseball and football are well-accepted in Japan, traditional Japanese sports such as sumo, judo, kendo and some other martial arts are also popular. Some of these traditional sports are even accepted as official Olympic Games sports. Among traditional Japanese sports there are some, for example sumo, that date back to pre-Edo times. Nowadays, not only have these traditional sports have evolved as the culture has developed, they have become some of the most popular sports among high school students as well as sports enthusiasts at home and abroad.
faceSports Activities at Schools
Students in Japan are encouraged to join extracurricular activities after school. After-school clubs, especially sports team like baseball, basketball, volleyball and soccer in high school are popular. Traditional sports such as sumo, judo, and kendo are also very common.
Aside from traditional culture, you can also enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities while immersed in the breathtaking nature of Japan. With its temperate climate, mountainous landscape and beautiful coastline, Japan is as close as it gets to heaven for the outdoor sports lover. From trekking and canyoning in the mountains, to snorkeling, paragliding and white-water rafting, this paradise for outdoor activity devotees is never short of fun all year round.
Enjoy Traditional Japanese Sports with the Locals
Sumo and judo are two of the traditional Japanese sports that have successfully endured through the rapid development of post-war society. Sumo is a competitive full-contact form of wrestling that started as a religious event. Many sumo rituals are closely related to the Shinto religion that is unique to Japanese culture. Another traditional sport that is closely related to Japanese culture is judo. Judo is often characterized as a modern martial art which later turned Olympic Sport. It is quite common in Japan. Not only are there judo schools teaching judo to children and adults, but most high schools also have school clubs for this sport.
Originating as a religious occasion, Japan’s national sport sumo to this day still retains many rituals closely related to the Shinto religion. This sport is a competitive form of wrestling where “rikishi,” Japanese for sumo wrestler, attempt to force their opponent out of a ring or into touching the ground. Sumo wrestlers may be famous for their body size, but just like any other professional sporting atheletes, they lead a highly regimented life of training and competition. Nowadays, sumo is a popular sports among spectators. There are six Grand Sumo tournaments every year. Come watch these skillful wrestlers compete against each other in Japan.
Grand Sumo Tournament
There are six Grand Sumo tournaments being held each year. Wrestlers from all around the country gather together to fight against each other for two-weeks to win the tournament and to reach the highest rank. Watch these impressive sports matches for a taste of an authentic Japanese culture.
Originally created as a teaching method to train people physically, mentally and morally, judo has evolved from a martial art into an Olympic combat sport. Literally meaning “the gentle way,” judo is more than just a set of techniques, it is also a philosophy. Nowadays, judo has spread well beyond the Japanese archipelago, attracting thousands of people worldwide to participate this special sport that trains body as well as mind.
Being a common traditional sport, most high schools in Japan have a judo club. There are privately run judo schools outside of high schools, too. Join a school club or one of these private schools to learn this traditional martial art in its traditional home Japan!
Tokyo Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race, or “Hakone Ekiden” for short, is one of the most viewed of Japan's university relay marathon races. It is held between Tokyo and the popular tourist destination Hakone each year on January 2 and 3. It was started in 1920 by the father of Japanese marathon running Shizo Kanaguri to foster runners to compete on the world stage. The total distance of the relay race is roughly 218 kilometers, and is telecast on Nippon TV. Japanese novel Run with the Wind is also based on the Hakone Ekiden, and has been adapted into manga, film and anime.
Sports in High School
Extracurricular activities, especially sports club like baseball, basketball, volleyball, softball and soccer are popular in Japanese in high schools. There are clubs for traditional sports such as sumo (traditional wrestling), judo (martial arts), and kendo (traditional swordsmanship) as well. Among all the sports, baseball is particularly popular among high school boys. The Japanese High School Baseball Championship, known as Koshien and watch by millions on TV, is one of the biggest events for students on these school baseball teams.
Join a School Club While You're Here!
Many students in high school in Japan join after-school clubs, especially sports ones such as baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc. Most students are very serious about their club activities. Sports clubs often go on overnight training camps, and they participate in regional and even country-wide contests to win the glory for themselves as well as their schools.
Extracurricular activities are very popular among high school students in Japan. Joining an after-school sports club is the fastest and the easiest way to make friends in high school.
Enjoy Sports Surrounded by Nature!
Rich in natural resources, you can enjoy a variety of sports while immersed in beauty of Japan’s nature. From the mountains to the sea, there are always outdoor sports you may enjoy throughout the seasons. No matter if you are a rock climber, ski-lover, or water sport enthusiast, Japan always has just the place for you.
Enjoy the breathtaking nature and take a leap of faith with canyoning in Japan. There are a number of canyons that are suitable for canyoning, including the Kinugawa River at Nikko and Fujigawachi Valley. Follow trails to take in the lovely nature of these locations. Canyoning is a challenging outdoor activity that often requires a variety of skills including hiking, climbing, jumping and swimming. In someplaces you might even have to jump from a meters-high rock! It sure is an exciting way to enjoy nature!
Water Sports in Japan
When it comes to outdoor sports in Japan, for most people winter sports like skiing and snowboarding come to mind. However, the water sports are quite common and popular too! The southern island Okinawa is the most famous for cave snorkeling and scuba diving, while surfing is quite popular at the Izu Islands. Get wet and wild this summer with these exciting activities!
The Fascinating Ocean
Explore Japan with exciting water sports! Scuba diving, snorkeling and surfing are popular on the southern islands as well as along coastal areas. Or you can raft through a mangrove forest with local guides to enjoy the wonderful nature here.
For ski-lovers, Japan is definitely the country to go to in East Asia. From November to May annually, tourists from around the world swarm into ski resorts throughout Japan to enjoy the wonderful powder snow here. Some resorts even take advantage of the local onsen, providing relaxing ski-and-hot-spring packages! It is also a great place for professionals to try out their skills.
Ski resorts throughout Japan
There are many ski resorts all across the country. Some of these are best for professionals or experienced ski-lovers, while others are beginner-friendly. Popular ski hot spots include Hokkaido, Nagano and Niigata. Each of these places has different types of snow, slopes and pistes for skiing and snowboarding. If you’re a new to skiing, some of these ski resorts also provide beginner class in English and Japanese.