Japanese Sports Events in 2020

List of sports events in Japan for 2020

Tokyo Tower 2020 illumination

※IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the international spread of the coronavirus, many of the sporting events taking place this year have been either postponed or canceled. If you are planning in assisting any event this year, please make sure to figure out if that event is postponed or canceled.


2020 is an important year for Japanese sports and especially Tokyo because of the Summer Olympic Games.

Usually, when the Olympic Games occur, people get pumped up and are more interested in watching sporting events in general. So here I have made a list of sports events in Japan for 2020.

Even though sports events are an internationally common thing, I think going to one of these events can give you an insight into the culture of that country, and Japan is no exception.

Experience first-hand how the Japanese exert their passion for sports!


1. Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020

110m hurdles
“110M haies” © Yann Caradec(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Without a doubt, the most important sporting event in the entire world. The modern style of The Summer Olympics has taken place almost every 4 years since 1896, and in 2020 it is Tokyo’s turn to host this grand event. This will be the second time Tokyo host this event after doing it back in 1964.

Over 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are expected to participate in 33 different sports. No other sporting event even comes close to such a scale.

※NOTICE: Due to the international spread of the coronavirus, the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020 was postponed until the summer of 2021.

Period (New Schedule): July 23 ~ August 8, 2021

Place: Tokyo (Sapporo for the Marathons)

How to get tickets: By official website only

Official Website: https://tokyo2020.org/en/

2. Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020

track and field at the paralympics
“BT Paralympic World Cup 2009 Athletics: Men’s T54–800 Metres.” © Stuart Grout(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Right after the regular Olympic games are over, it is the turn for the paralympic athletes to shine at the biggest stage. During the 2020 Paralympic Games, 22 sports and 540 events will be contested featuring around 4,400 athletes which are an all-time high.

This is a good opportunity for you to watch some of the lesser-known sports such as “Goalball” and “Boccia” at the highest levels.

※NOTICE: Due to the international spread of the coronavirus, the Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020 was postponed until the summer of 2021.

Period (New Schedule): August 24 ~ September 5, 2021

Place: Tokyo

How to get tickets: By official website only

Official Website: https://tokyo2020.org/en/

3. Football (Soccer)

Japanese Football game
“Kawasaki Frontale vs Gamba Osaka_168” © TAKA@P.P.R.S(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are 3 major Football (Soccer) tournaments held in Japan which are: the “J-League”, the “Levain Cup”, and the “Emperor’s Cup”.

The J-League is Japan’s professional league and it has 3 categories, J-1 being the top league followed by J-2 and J-3. J-League games are usually played on Saturdays or Sundays, with few exceptions.

J-League period:

  • J-1 League season 2020 is from February 21 ~ December 5.
  • J-2 League season 2020 is from February 23 ~ November 22.
  • J-3 League season 2020 is from March 7 ~ December 13.

The Levain Cup is a tournament composed of 20 teams and consists of a group stage and a play-off stage. On the other hand, the Emperor’s Cup is the oldest football competition dating back to 1921. Both professional and amateur teams participate in this cup. Both Levain Cup games and Emperor’s Cup games are usually played on Wednesdays.

  • Levain Cup 2020 is from February 16 ~ October 24.
  • Emperor’s Cup 2020 is from May 23 ~ January 1(2021).

There are also the ACL games (AFC Champions League) which take place between January 28 and November 28.

※Note: All competitions will have a break between July 23 and August 8 due to the Summer Olympics.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Football tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the stadium. The easiest way is to purchase your tickets online. Tickets for all the tournaments mentioned above can be purchased via the J-League’s official website.

Official Website: https://www.jleague.jp/en/

Or, if you are more interested in the national team (a.k.a. the “Samurai Blue”), you can find the schedule of all categories of the national teams at the JFA official website.

JFA Official Website: https://www.jfa.jp/eng/

Also, if you love Japanese football, you must love “Captain Tsubasa”. Here’s an article about this internationally popular Anime!

▶CAPTAIN TSUBASA: Japanese Football Manga and Anime

4. Baseball

Japanes Baseball game
“Hiyama” © EO Kenny(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Japanese professional baseball is run by the NPB(Nippon Professional Baseball Organization) and it consists of 12 teams. These 12 teams are divided into 2 leagues which are the “Central league” and the “Pacific league”. At the end of the regular season, the top 3 teams from each league advance to the “Climax Series” where the Japanese champion is decided.

Other than the regular season, there is also the “Nippon Life Interleague Play” which is an independent small tournament that takes place in midseason.

Periods:

  • Regular season: March 20 ~ October 17.
  • Climax Series: October 24 ~ November 2.
  • Nippon Life Interleague Play: May 26 ~ June 14.

※Note: All competitions will have a break between July 21 and August 13 due to the Summer Olympics.

There are also the All-star games which take place on July 19 and 20.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Baseball tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the stadium. The easiest way is to purchase your tickets online. Here’s an article showing how to get tickets for all 12 professional teams.

▶How to Get Japanese Baseball Game Tickets of All 12 Teams

Official NPB Website: http://npb.jp/eng/

There are no known upcoming games for the national team at the moment, but you can check on their official website.

Japan National team Official Website: https://www.japan-baseball.jp/en/

If you are interested in Japanese Baseball and want to know more about the league, here is an article for you!

▶How to Watch Japanese Baseball Games in Tokyo

5. Rugby

Japanese Rugby game
“Microsoft Cup” © Tsutomu Takasu(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Rugby used to be not such a major sport in Japan, but after the positively surprising performance in the 2015 world cup and the 2019 world cup being held in Japan, the sport has gained a great amount of attraction nationwide.

The most competitive rugby can be seen at the “Top League” which is a 16 team league separated into 2 conferences. The Top League is a rugby union competition rather than a professional league. After the regular season is played, the top 2 teams of each conference advance to the playoffs to decide the national champion.

Period: January 12 ~ May 9.

How to get tickets: You can purchase game tickets from the official website.

Official Website: http://en.rugby-japan.jp/

6. Basketball

Japanese basketball game
“DSCF2941” © EO Shuhei S(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Although Japan is yet to be a powerhouse at the international level, basketball is a popular sport mainly because of popular Manga and Anime such as “Slam Dunk” and “Kuroko no Basuke”. Popularity is on the rise especially because of Japanese players starting to appear in the NBA.

Japan’s professional basketball league is called the “B. League“, and it consists of 2 divisions which are called “B1” and “B2”. Each division has 18 teams separated into 3 conferences. After a 60-game season, the playoffs take place to decide the champion.

Periods:

  • B1 regular season is from October 3, 2019, ~ April 19, 2020.
  • B2 regular season is from September 20, 2019, ~ April 12, 2020.

※Note1: The schedule for the Playoffs is yet to be determined.

※Note2: the 2020-2021 season’s schedule is yet to be announced.

How to get tickets: You can purchase game tickets from the official website.

Official Website: https://translation2.j-server.com/LUCBLEAGUE/ns/tl.cgi/https://www.bleague.jp

7. Volleyball

Japanese Volleyball Game
“World Cup 2007” © m-louis .®(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The top Volleyball competition for both men and women in Japan is called the “V League“. There are 3 divisions for men(V1, V2, and V3) and 2 divisions for women(V1 and V2). These leagues are all organized by the Japan Volleyball League Organization.

The men’s V1 is composed of 10 teams while the women’s V1 has 12 teams divided into 2 conferences. Both consist of a regular season followed by the final stage(playoffs) to determine the national champion.

Periods:

  • Men’s V1 regular season is from October 26, 2019, ~ February 16, 2020.
  • Men’s V1 final stage is from February 22 ~ February 29.
  • Women’s V1 regular season is from October 12, 2019, ~ January 5, 2020.
  • Women’s V1 final stage is from January 11 ~ January 26.

※Note: the 2020-2021 season’s schedule is yet to be announced.

How to get tickets: You can purchase game tickets from the official website.

Official Website: https://www.vleague.jp/

8. Judo

Japanese Judo tournament
“Edmonton International Judo Championships 2016” © IQRemix(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The most important entity when it comes to Japanese Judo is called the “All Japan Judo Federation”. This is also the official representative for judo in the Japanese Olympic Committee.

the following are the main tournaments that take place yearly. There are many more competitions that take place at the college and high school levels.

  • All-Japan Judo Championships: Competition to decide the men’s open weight champion. It will take place on April 29 at “Chiba Port Arena”.
  • All-Japan Women’s Judo Championships: Competition to decide the women’s open weight champion. It will take place on April 19 at “Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium”.
  • All Japan Selection Judo Weight National Championships: Competiton to decide who goes to the Olympics. It will take place on April 4 and 5 at the “Fukuoka Convention Center”.
  • Kodokan Cup All Nippon Judo Weight Championships: Competition to decide both men’s and women’s champion of each weight category. It will take place on October 31 ~ November 1 at the “Chiba Port Arena”.
  • All-Japan Business Judo Group Championships: Competition to decide the best Judo team(business judo group). It will take place on October 29 and 30 at the “Amagasaki Baycom Gymnasium”(Hyogo prefecture).
  • All Japan Business Judo Individual Championships: Competition of business judo groups to determine the individual champions. It will take place on June 6 and 7 at the “Nagano-kenritsu Budokan”.
  • Grand Slam Tokyo (International Judo Championship): International competition held in Tokyo. The venue hasn’t been decided. It will take place on December 11 ~ 13.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Judo tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, or at the venue.

Official Website(Japanese only): https://www.judo.or.jp/

9. Karate

japanese karate tournament
“IMG_6602” © ThisParticularGreg(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Karate is one of the new sports added for the 2020 Olympics. But even before this, Karate has been one of the most popular martial arts coming from Japan. In this case, from Okinawa. It is known to have a much higher number of active athletes compared to Judo.

Karate has various schools(styles) and each style has its own important competitions. Here, I will show you the main competitions run by the “Japan Karatedo Federation”.

  • All Japan University Championships: will take place on November 15 at the “Nippon Budokan”.
  • Japan Cup Karatedo Championships(Team): will take place on December 12 at the “Tokyo Budokan”.
  • Japan Cup Karatedo Championships(Individual): will take place on December 13 at the “Nippon Budokan”.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Karate tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, or at the venue.

Official Website:https://www.jkf.ne.jp/english/

10. Golf

Golf tournament
“Shingo Katayama (his name is in japanese on his bag and he had an interpreter with him to translate for the caddy)” © Flash and Mel(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Relatively speaking, playing golf in Japan is a pricey experience. But putting it in another way, that means that these golf courses are well maintained. Many of these golf courses are used for professional tournaments where many foreign players come to compete.

The Japan Golf Tour Organization runs over 20 major tournaments yearly all across Japan. These are the major tournaments.

  • Asia Pacific Diamond Cup Golf: Takes place on May 07 ~ 10 at the “Sobu Country Club Sobu Course”(Chiba).
  • Shigeo Nagashima Invitational Sega Sammy Cup: Takes place on August 20 ~ 23 at “The North Country Golf Club”(Hokkaido).
  • Panasonic Open Golf Championship: Takes place on September 24 ~ 27 at the “Joyo Country Club”(Kyoto).
  • Japan Open Golf Championship: Takes place on October 15 ~ 18 at the “Murasaki Country Club Sumire Course”(Chiba).
  • Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters: Takes place on November 12 ~ 15 at the “Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course”(Shizuoka).
  • Dunlop Phoenix: Takes place on November 19 ~ 22 at the “Phoenix Country Club”(Miyazaki).
  • Casio World Open: Takes place on November 26 ~ 29 at the “Kochi Kuroshio Country Club”(Kochi).

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Golf tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue.

Official Website: https://www.jgto.org/pc/TopPageEng.do

11. Marathon

Japanese marathon
“Tokyo Marathon 2018 Runner” © nakashi(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Marathon competitions are special in the sense that you can actually participate if you want to. In some cases, you will have to first apply and then see if you were selected to participate. Participating in these marathons is a nice experience because you get to run in large streets you wouldn’t be able to walk usually, and you also get to see the unique scenery of that town.

Here are some of the major marathon competitions in Japan.

Tokyo Marathon:

Kyoto Marathon:

Fukuoka International Open Marathon:

Nagoya Women’s Marathon:

Kanazawa Marathon:

Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon:

Chiba Aqualine Marathon:

12. Tennis

Japanese Tennis Tournament
“男子シングルス決勝” © akira yamada(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tennis is another sport that is growing quickly due to the success of young professional tennis players such as Kei Nishikori and Naomi Osaka.

There are various international tournaments held by the JTA (Japan Tennis Association), but the most renowned ones are the following.

Hana-cupid Japan Women’s Open Tennis:

Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament:

Rakuten Open:

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Tennis tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue. The most practical way would be online which you can do by going to the competition’s official website.

13. Table Tennis

Table tennis
“IMG_8333_DxO” © Vaillante Angers Tennis de Table(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Japanese table tennis players have been regularly fighting for top spots in the international level. It is no surprise that expectations for Japanese players in the upcoming Olympics are high.

There are several tournaments that are held at the national level, but here I’ll introduce to you the only international tournament held in Japan for 2020 (of course, this is excluding the Olympics).

ITTF World Tour Platinum LION Japan Open

  • Period: It will take place from April 21 ~ 26, at Kitakyushu.
  • How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Table Tennis tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue.
  • Official Website(Japanese only): http://www.jtta.or.jp/

14. Sumo Wrestling

Japanese Sumo wrestling
“大相撲 大阪場所” © HATOYA.COM(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The national sport, Sumo wrestling. This is definitely one experience you don’t want to miss when you visit Japan since you won’t be able to watch it anywhere else in the world.

Sumo tournaments are held during the odd number months(Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Nov.) and each tournament is held in different areas of the country.

  • January Tournament: Takes place between January 12 ~ 26. Held in Tokyo.
  • March Tournament: Takes place between March 8 ~ 22. Held in Osaka.
  • May Tournament: Takes place between May 10 ~ 24. Held in Tokyo.
  • July Tournament: Takes place between July 5 ~ 19. Held in Nagoya.
  • September Tournament: Takes place between September 13 ~ 27. Held in Tokyo.
  • November Tournament: Takes place between November 8 ~ 22. Held in Fukuoka.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Sumo tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue. The easiest way would be to get them online. Tickets are available from about 1 month before the competition starts.

Here is an article where we explain more about the Japanese national sport. You can get tickets from there too!

▶How to Watch Sumo in Japan

Official Website: http://sumo.or.jp/En/

Or, if you happen to be visiting Tokyo when Sumo tournaments are not held, you can also go see a mourning Sumo practice. Here’s an article about it!

▶My SUMO Morning Practice Experience in Tokyo!

15. Pro Wrestling

Japanese Pro-wrestling
“DSC_3323” © Harry Li(Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)

Japanese Pro wrestling has a long history, dating way back to the 1950s. Although not as flashy as the North American Pro wrestling, it is still regarded as very entertaining and high-level by connoisseurs.

“New Japan Pro-Wrestling” is the company behind all the events. These events are held all around Japan.

New Japan Road:

  • February 20, 21 at “Korakuen Hall”(Tokyo).
  • February 26 at “Okinawa Prefectural Budokan”(Okinawa).

Anniversary Tour:

  • March 1 at “Mito Municipal Gymnasium”(Ibaraki).
  • March 2 at “Big Palette Fukushima”(Fukushima).

Anniversary Event: March 3 at “Ota City General Gymnasium”(Tokyo).

New Japan Cup 2020:

  • March 4 at “Korakuen Hall”(Tokyo).
  • March 7 at “Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium”(Aichi).
  • March 8 at “Baycom Gymnasium”(Hyogo).
  • March 9 at “Kochi Prefectural Gymnasium”(Kochi).
  • March 10 at “ZIP Arena Okayama”(Okayama).
  • March 12 ~ 13 at “Korakuen Hall”(Tokyo).
  • March 14 at “Makuhari Messe”(Chiba).
  • March 16 at “Takaoka Techno Dome”(Toyama).
  • March 17 at “Kumagaya Citizen Gymnasium”(Saitama).
  • March 18 at “Twin Messe Shizuoka”(Shizuoka).
  • March 20 ~ 21 at “Ao-re Nagaoka”(Niigata).

…And much more. To see all the 2020 schedule, check out their website.

How to get tickets: You can get tickets via their official website.

Official Website: https://www.njpw1972.com/

16. Figure Skating

Japanese Figure skating tournament
“Japan Open” © Tsutomu Takasu(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Figure skating in Japan has always been popular, but now it is especially gaining attention due to the talented skaters that have been rising in the international scene. Skaters such as Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu are raising the status of Japanese figure skating, and the best competition where you can see these Japanese stars is at the “Japan Figure Skating Championships”.

The Japan Figure Skating Championships are held every December, and here they decide the best in disciplines such as; men’s singles, ladies singles, pair skating, and ice dancing.

※Note: Dates and venue for the 2020 Japan Figure Skating Championships haven’t been announced yet.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Figure Skating tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue.

Official Website(Japanese only): https://skatingjapan.or.jp/figure/

17. Kendo

Japanese Kendo tournament
“Kendo” © Vincent Diamante(Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Kendo is one of the more popular martial arts from Japan alongside Judo, Karate, and Sumo. Kendo tournaments are dynamic and intense. To go watch a Kendo tournament may be a nice experience when coming to Japan.

The organization behind all Kendo tournaments is the “All Japan Kendo Federation” (AJKF). The major tournaments are the following.

  • All Japan Kendo Championship: Will take place on November 3. The venue is to be determined.
  • All Japan Women’s Kendo Championship: Will take place on September 13 at the “White Ring Arena”(Nagano).
  • All Japan Businessmen Kendo Tournament: Will take place on September 26 at the “Sumida City Gymnasium”(Tokyo).
  • All Japan Interprefecture Kendo championship: Will take place on April 29. The venue is to be determined.
  • All Japan Interprefecture Women’s Kendo championship: Will take place on July 12. The venue is to be determined.

How to get tickets: There are 3 main ways to get Kendo tickets which are; online, at convenience stores, and at the venue.

Official Website: https://www.kendo.or.jp/en/

18. Motorsports

F1 at Suzuka circuit
“土曜日FP3:スプーン5” © nimame(Licensed under CC BY 2.0)

For those who love motorsports, the “Suzuka Circuit” is a well-known venue. It hosts several international motorsports racing competitions for both motorcycles and racing cars.

Here are some of the major tournaments.

Car racing

  • F1 Pirelli Japanese Grand Prix 2020: Takes place on October 10 ~ 11.
  • Pirelli Super Taikyu Series 2020 Opening Round: Takes place on March 21 ~ 22.

Motorcycle racing

  • “Coca Cola” Suzuka 8 hours: Takes place on July 25 ~ 28.
  • Asia Road Racing Championship Round 4: Takes place on June 28 ~ 30.

Or, if you like both car racing and motorcycle racing, there is also the “2020 NGK Spark Plugs Suzuka 2&4 Race” which takes place on April 4 and 5.

How to get tickets: You can get tickets for all the races mentioned above at the Suzuka circuit official website.

Official Website: https://www.suzukacircuit.jp/en/events/


I hope you liked this list of sports events in Japan for 2020. People around the world are going to be hyped because of the Olympic games, but don’t forget that there are many more sports events that you can find other than the Olympic events.

If you enjoy both watching and doing sports, here are more articles that may interest you!!

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