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Traditional Japanese Sports

Exotic Experience

Whether soccer or baseball, sports are very popular in Japan. But if you are coming to Japan, why not take a look at some of the traditional Japanese sports as well?


Sumo is a traditional combative Japanese sport that is well known throughout the world. Most rikishi (Sumo wrestlers) are professional competitors weighing 100 to 200 kg.

Rules are simple compared to western-style wrestling: two competitors wearing mawashi (silk belts) fight in a ring 4.5m in diameter and placed on a square mound. When any part of a competitor’s body, except the sole of the feet, touches the ground or goes out of the ring, he loses the bout.

The professional sumo tournaments take place six times a year for 15 days each in January, May and September at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, March in Osaka, July in Nagoya and December in Fukuoka.

Tickets for the Grand Sumo tournaments which are held at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan three times a year (January, May and September) can be reserved from overseas.



Kendo is Japanese-style fencing, which originated from kenjutsu, the most important martial art of the samurai. In the match, the competitor wears special protective gear and strikes at the opponent’s head, chest or hand with a bamboo sword.



Judo is well known throughout the world as a Japanese combative sport. The basic principle of Judo is a self-defense technique that makes use of the opponent's force. The player wears a coloured obi (belt), to show his or her level of ability, with white being for beginners and black for advanced.


Karate is a combative sport that came from China through Ryukyu Kingdom (present day Okinawa). The competitors of the match do not wear any kind of protection and use only their hands and fists. Compared to other combative sports, karate is a more practical martial art.



The basic principle of Aikido is “Do not fight force with force”.
It is a sport that only practice forms for the sake of forms and is therefore not so rough as Judo or Karate. Aikido is excellent as mental training or as a fitness sport, and has become especially popular with women and senior citizens.



Baseball is so popular in Japan that many fans are surprised to hear that Americans also consider it their "national sport."

Professional baseball is well developed, with twelve teams being sponsored by major corporations. In Tokyo, the most favored place to see a game is the Tokyo Dome Stadium located in the ground of Tokyo Dome City Amusement Park.


Soccer is a sport which now a focus of explosive popularity among children and young people in Japan. Japan has hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Korea.