Popular Sports in Japan | Top 15 sports in Japan, Guided by Japanese webmaster !

This page is about

  • Popular Sports in Japan
  • Number of players in each sports
  • Brief comments by webmaster

This page is to help the people :

  • Who like Japan !
  • Who are interested in Japanese culture
  • Who want to enjoy life in Japan

Hello world ! This is shinta_in_japan.

Today’s topic is population of sports.
What kind of sports are you playing ?

Japanese government office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications publish statistics about number of population of players in each sports in every 5 years.

This article is based on this statistics in 2016. The government defines player as people who played sports more than one time. I hope you can learn about Japanese life through this article, with 5 minutes of reading.

Have fun !


SHINTA+ / Japanese blog writer, born and raised in Japan, visited more than 20 countries, introducing Japanese culture to the world, with both domestic & international experiences.

No.1 – 5

Activities Population Ratio 
Bowling 14.4 million12.7 %
Jogging, Marathon 13.7 million 12.1 %
Swimming 12.5 million 11.0 %
Mountaineering 11.3 million 10.0 %
Fishing 9.9 million 8.7 %

Bowling has very large number of players in Japan. More than 14 millions of people played Bowling in a year. Fishing and Mountaineering, are listed, as government defined them as sports.

Jogging and swimming have also large number of players. As we can do these activities without any additional players, people enjoy them very easily.


People enjoy above listed sports, from younger to elder !

No.6 – 10

Activities Population Ratio 
Golf9.0 million 7.9 %
Cycling 9.0 million 7.9 %
Baseball 8.2 million 7.2 %
Table Tennis 7.7 million6.8 %
Badminton 7.6 million 6.7 %

In No. 6-10, the contents are changed from top 5. Except Cycling in No.7, it’s very difficult to play alone. No.6 Golf is very popular sports in Japan, especially in elder generation.

Baseball is very popular, as there is professional baseball league in Japan. Table Tennis is also popular, as there’s table for table tennis in many of accommodation in Japan.


People enjoy these sports with friends !

No.11 – 15

Activities Population Ratio 
Football 6.8 million 6.0 %
Ski & Snowboard 6.1 million 5.4 %
Tennis 5.7 million 5.0 %
Volleyball 5.1 million 4.5 %
Basketball 4.9 million 4.3 %

Football is also popular, however, it’s difficult to play it on turf field. Generally, people play on the soil ground. Volleyball and Basketball are also popular, as most of Japanese have experience to play them in school age.

Although number of players are decreasing year by year, many of people still enjoy Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan. Due to global warming, some of Ski resorts were closed recently.


Ski & Snowboard as winter sports are popular in Japan !


How was the content today ?

There are many sports which Japanese play in daily life. For me, I like to play baseball, football, and snowboarding. And sometimes I do jogging, mountaineering. It’s very natural for Japanese to play sports in our life.

I hope you can find something different from your country and something same as your life. If you have a chance to play sports with your Japanese friend, please refer to this article.


Thank you for reading and see you again !