Popular Japanese Sports Played Across the World

Japan is the land of the rising sun, the home of sushi, traditional arts, and calligraphy. A country known for its tea ceremonies, their rich history and culture. A significant part of that culture also includes sports. Many martial arts originated in Japan and are now practiced across the globe. Not only that, but Japanese people also enjoy a variety of Western sports.

People who enjoy watching sports often like betting on them as well. Even though gambling is illegal in the most parts of Japan, popular sportsbooks still offer various sign-up bonuses, like William Hill 2019 bonus code. But what are those popular sports that the residents of Japan would bet on if they could and which Japanese sports are popular all over the world?

Sumo Wrestling

Naturally, the first sport that would come to anyone’s mind when thinking of Japan is sumo. The literal translation means striking one another — to no surprise, as it is the full contact sport. The goal of the wrestlers, known as rikishi in Japanese, is to push their opponent out of the ring or force them to touch the ground with any body part aside from the soles of their feet by pushing or throwing them down. The sport has the very essence of Japan’s traditions and rituals embedded into it. Most wrestlers are required to live in heya, known as the sumo training stable, where everything from their meals to their dress code is dictated by tradition.


Kendo is another sport that originated in Japan. It derived from kenjutsu (general term for swordsmanship), and its name means ‘the way of the sword’. The sport uses shinai (the bamboo swords) and bōgu (protective armour), and it is believed that its concept is to discipline the human character through the use and principles of katana. The protective armour consists of many parts and includes men, tare, kote, and dō. When it comes to competitions, the goal of kendo is to connect your shinai with the designated spots on your opponent covered by armour. The matches have three referees, and two out of three must agree and raise a red or a white flag to award a point to the competitors. Each flag corresponds to a ribbon worn by one of the competitors.


Judo is another full-contact sport that originated in Japan, and it is translated as ‘gentle way’. It was created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano as a mental, moral and physical pedagogy; however, it has evolved into a modern Olympic sport. The practitioners of judo are called judoka. In competitive judo, the goal is to subdue or immobilize the opponent with chokes or joint locks. Judokas are also allowed to takedown or throw their opponents. Using weapons and strikes with hands or feet is permitted, but only in pre-arranged forms known as kata. As a home country to judo, Japan holds most Olympic medals and has 84 of them in total, followed by France and South Korea that have 49 and 43 respectively.

Other Popular Sports in Japan

Despite the fact they do not originate in Japan, many Western sports are highly widespread in this country. The most popular ones include baseball and football, while many Japanese people also enjoy golf and tennis, as well as car racing. Whether you prefer the traditional or so-called imported sports, you would get a chance to either spectate or participate in all of them in Japan.