Insights on Japanese Culture – What are Japanese sports and national sports?
What are Japanese sports and national sports?
I believe that each country has its own popular sport among the people.
What do you think are the most famous or popular sports in Japan?
Some foreigners who are familiar with Japanese culture might mention sumo, judo, kendo, etc.. Others might mention baseball, which fascinates many Japanese.
A national sport may or may not be established by the laws of that country. Anyway, it is meant to be widely favored by the people and recognized as important to their culture.
Although it is not officially defined by Japanese law, sumo tends to be generally regarded as the national sport. Sumo has a history of being a national event and it was performed in ceremonies related to god.
Unlike in the past, today's society has many popular cultures and amusements, which leads people to have various interests.
The number of people who do sumo in Japan is about 100,000. It would be difficult to argue that sumo is the most popular and widely recognized national sport in Japan. However, sumo matches (called honbasho), which are held six times a year, are always broadcast live on NHK, the national television station, so sumo is still generally considered to be the national sport.
By the way, some say that kendo, kyudo and judo, which are the same martial arts as sumo, have been handed down in Japan for centuries and are also regarded as national sports. Each has its own traditional history and culture that the Japanese people cherish, but if you ask if it is a national sport, none of them may be as convincing as sumo.
In addition, the number of people who play baseball in Japan is said to be 7 million, soccer 4.4 million, kendo 1.8 million, judo 200,000, and kyudo 140,000, so baseball has the upper hand.
In fact, when it comes to the coverage in the media and the level of public interest, you can say that baseball might be the most followed sport.
So, it can not be officially defined as a national sport, but many Japanese are aware of the scale of baseball which concerns the entire nation.
(By the way, my absolute favorite one is kendo. It is full of the culture of “civility" and "respect for others" that Japanese people especially cherish)