Japan - Culture - Sports

Sports

Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport. Japanese martial arts such as judo, karate and kendo are also widely practiced and enjoyed by spectators in the country. After the Meiji Restoration, many Western sports were introduced in Japan and began to spread through the education system. Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. Japan has hosted the Winter Olympics twice: Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

Baseball is currently the most popular spectator sport in the country. Japan's top professional league, Nippon Professional Baseball, was established in 1936.

Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football has also gained a wide following. Japan was a venue of the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004 and co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times. Also, Japan recently won the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2011.

Golf is also popular in Japan, as are forms of auto racing like the Super GT series and Formula Nippon. The country has produced one NBA player, Yuta Tabuse.

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Famous quotes containing the word sports:

    Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
    Thy sports are fled and all thy charms withdrawn;
    Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
    And desolation saddens all thy green;
    One only master grasps the whole domain,
    And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain;
    Oliver Goldsmith (1730?–1774)

    It was so hard to pry this door open, and if I mess up I know the people behind me are going to have it that much harder. Because then there’s living proof. They can sit around and say, “See? It doesn’t work.” I don’t want to be their living proof.
    Gayle Gardner, U.S. sports reporter. As quoted in Sports Illustrated, p. 87 (June 17, 1991)

    I looked so much like a guy you couldn’t tell if I was a boy or a girl. I had no hair, I wore guys’ clothes, I walked like a guy ... [ellipsis in source] I didn’t do anything right except sports. I was a social dropout, but sports was a way I could be acceptable to other kids and to my family.
    Karen Logan (b. 1949)