Popular sports in Japan

Japan is a sports-loving country.  You see it everywhere and it’s always being talked about on TV.  The most popular sports are baseball and soccer.  Japan has a professional baseball league with skill levels that rival Major League Baseball.  Japan also has a well developed professional soccer league, J-League.  Amateur baseball is very big.  High schools all across Japan have teams that compete to go to Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.  This is a closely watched tournament in Japan, and I wonder if it rivals the pro league in popularity.

Apart from these two big sports, there are other very popular sports.  Judo is quite big in Japan.  Sumo is having problems with gambling scandals, so its popularity is waning.  Figure skating is quite big, due to the high quality of today’s competitors (Mao Asada is probably the best known).  Golf is having an upswing in popularity due to the very talented and young Ryo Ishikawa and the number one ranked LPGA player Ai Miyazato.  Volleyball is also quite popular, particularly women’s volleyball and beach volleyball.  And then there’s table tennis, which is often shown on TV, and the focus is on the young Ai Fukuhara.  Another big sport is the marathon.  There are many marathons in Japan, and some of the top marathoners in the world are Japanese.

There are more sports, and I’ve probably missed a couple, but these are the major ones that I could think of.  Any more?

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