From baseball to soccer, rugby and sumo, the Japanese are great lovers of sport, and there are a variety of venues where one can watch his or her favorite.
While American football is not quite a mainstream sport of interest in Japan, there are a variety of universities that have teams, and the country’s X-League (http://www.xleague.com) is a 60-team professional football league. The U.S.’ NFL is watched with significant enthusiasm, and many of the NFL games are broadcast live. The NFL also has a Japan presence (http://www.nfljapan.com/) with exhibition games held in Tokyo every year or two.
Baseball is likely to be the country’s favorite spectator sport, and people of all ages partake in the game starting in elementary school and continuing through middle school, and high school (when the game becomes particularly serious), college, and the pros. Tokyo has two “home” baseball teams including the Tokyo Yakult Swallows (playing at Meiji Jingu Stadium, 3-1 Kasumigaoka, Minato-ku; http://www.yakult-swallows.co.jp) and the Yomiuri Giants (playing at 1-3 Tokyo Dome, Bunkyo-ku; http://www.giants.jp). Tickets can be purchased at the respective playing fields or online at Ticket Pia: (http://t.pia.jp/).
Chichibunomiya Stadium (2-8-35 Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku; http://www.rugbyjapan.com) is the headquarters for Japan’s Rugby Football Union which has a small but loyal following. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium or online at Ticket Pia: (http://t.pia.jp/).
Japan’s soccer league (“J. League”) was founded in 1992 and has grown in popularity ever since, particularly with Japan performing well on the international stage in several World Cup’s. Two popular Tokyo teams include F.C. Tokyo (http://www.fctokyo.co.jp) and Tokyo Verdy (http://www.verdy.co.jp) which also has an English blog at http://tokyonerdy1969.blogspot.com. Tickets can be purchased at Ajinomoto Stadium (Nishi 376-3, Chofu-shi) where both teams play or online at Ticket Pia: (http://t.pia.jp/).
Japan’s national sport of sumo has three 15-day tournaments held in Tokyo in January, May, and September. Held at Kokugikan Stadium (1-3-28 Yokozuna, Sumida-ku; http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html), each day during the tournaments, the matches begin at 9 a.m., but the ranked pros don’t start appearing until 2 p.m. and the top ranked wrestlers start appearing after 3 p.m. with the day concluding at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium, but advanced tickets should be considered – see the Web site for details.