Sports in Japan

Updated 2022-12-21 10:14

Whether for leisure, passion or even professionally, did you practice a sport before moving to Japan? Are you looking to pick up your training and/or discover other sports? Before putting on your sneakers and challenging the stopwatch, take a break to discover the popular sports in Japan.

Walking, hiking and running in Japan

Walking is an all-round great sport, gentle on the joints, and a great cardio workout. It doesn't require a lot of equipment, complex infrastructure or a gym membership. You just need to invest in a decent pair of walking shoes (not to be overlooked), and you're good to go on the trails in your neighborhood. If you are lucky enough to live in the countryside or near a park, your workout will also be a well-deserved green break. You will find many walking paths wherever you are in Japan. 

Hiking enthusiasts have their favorite spots, like Karôzan in Fukushima or Chausuyama in the Aichi prefecture. Hiking is a very popular sport in Japan. Same for running, with tracks designed for joggers everywhere in the country. Invest in a good pair of sneakers and go running for adventure.

Baseball in Japan

In Japan, baseball is the national sport of the country, and it is impossible to ignore it. It is a sport that brings together generations of people and families in stadiums or in front of TV sets to support the Nishinomiya Hanshin Tigers, the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, the Buffalo Osaka Orix. If you are in the mood for sports, you should go to the baseball field to practice. You will surely find one in your city. Otherwise, a simple flat field will do. If you don't have a team with you, take up catch ball. All you need is a baseball glove, a ball and two players. One throws, and the other catches. No need for big equipment. You can play it anywhere. Before hitting the bat, practice your aim.

Cycling in Japan

Cycling is very popular in Japan. You might have already found yourself at a pedestrian crossing, surrounded by a horde of bikes. Bicycles are used to go to school, to college, to high school. It is also used as a "housewife's mountain bike" (the famous mamachari with its shopping basket in front). It can be customized as a competition bike for employees who are always in a hurry. The bike is everywhere.

If you are more of an outdoor cyclist, there are many clubs in the country that you can register with. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on the activity of the clubs, but they are still up and running, like the Minato Cycling Club (link at the end of this article). If you are more of a track cyclist or want to experience a different kind of riding, why not try keirin, Japanese track cycling? The word literally means "battle on wheels", because it is a track battle with very specific rules. The sport was highlighted during the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, especially the women's keirin. 

The Yosakoi dance

Here is a dance that has been taking over the world. Playful, positive and lively, yosakoi is a group dance. It was created in 1954, in the prefecture of Kochi. At that time, everything had to be rebuilt in post-war Japan. This dance was born from the will to combat the economic gloom and to revitalize the commercial districts. The yosakoi is a dance of joy, peace and communion. Positive energy can be felt in the free dance movements. Sportsmen and women alike perform in the many matsuri (festivals) that take place all over Japan. Their unique style can also be seen in their very colorful costumes. The aim is again to instill positive energy. Get ready to sweat a lot. Yosakoi is a sport on its own. Whether you live in Kawasaki, Kagoshima, Akita or Tottori, you will surely find a yosakoi club.

Sports for all in Japan

Golf, basketball, figure skating, athletics, volleyball, badminton, swimming, rugby, yoga, gym, kendo, tennis, squash, karate, climbing, horseback riding, table tennis, judo, soccer, you name it, not to mention indoor sports. An entire world of sports is waiting for you in Japan.

Choosing your sports

Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor before taking up a sport, especially if you have not done so for a long time. A physician will be able to guide you to the right sport based on your medical history.

Find a sports club

The best place to start your search for a sports club is at your local town hall (or visit their website). Ask for a list of available sports clubs. As a resident of the municipality, you can get discounts. This is a good opportunity to boost your motivation to resume physical activity.

Useful links:

Minato-ku sports center

Tokyo metropolitan gymnasium

Ikebukuro sports center


Minato Cycling Club

Sports in Tokyo 

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.