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Most popular sports to watch Japan 2019

In a survey conducted in September 2019, approximately 33 percent of respondents in Japan chose baseball - yakyu in Japanese - when asked about what sports they liked to watch, compared to about 26 percent who claimed to like watching soccer. Other surveys proved that this was true not only in terms of TV watching, but also in terms of live watching at sports events in gymnasiums or stadiums. With approximately 6 million estimated fans, Yomiuri Giants, for example, was the most supported professional baseball team in Japan in 2019.

Baseball becoming the national sport in Japan

Imported from the United States at the end of the 19th century, baseball quickly gained popularity, both in playing and watching. Today, even primary schools have their own baseball teams and competition for places in high school teams are fierce. Baseball has therefore become the undisputed favorite in team sports. The obsession for the game is further driven by Japanese players performing well in the U.S. Major League, such as Shohei Ohtani, who is closely followed by Japanese people and were recently also chosen favorite athletes.

Successful Japanese athletes

Apart from baseball, football is one of the most watched sports in Japan, showing that modern sports have surpassed the traditional Japanese sports, such as Sumo, Kendo or Karate. Moreover, thriving athletes push the interest and adoration of their respective sport: figure skating - rank three on the list - partly owes its popularity to Yuzuru Hanyu, considered one of the greatest figure skaters in history. The successful participation of Japanese tennis players in international tournaments, such as Kei Nishikori or recently Naomi Osaka, have lured millions of Japanese to the television screens.

Favorite sports to watch in Japan as of September 2019

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

September 26 to 27, 2019

Number of respondents

2,000 respondents

Age group

15-69 years

Special properties

multiple answers were possible

Method of interview

Online survey

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Statistics on "Sports in Japan "

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