Sports & Activities

Most primary school students in Japan are required to select one sports team or club to join. For many, the chosen activity becomes a lifelong hobby. This extracurricular requirement has created a society of people who are passionate about their pastime, and there are many opportunities for others to get out there and join them.

The government does its part by maintaining and subsidising numerous municipal sports centres, outfitted with indoor and outdoor facilities for everything from swimming to sumo. Private gyms and athletics complexes also abound, but costs vary widely depending on activity, area and level of comfort or exclusivity.

While the economic downturn following the burst of the bubble took its toll on Japan’s astronomically priced golf courses, long-running upscale establishments like Tokyo American Club, Yokohama Athletic & Country Club and the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club are still prospering. However, organisations like Tokyo Gaijins (www.tokyogaijins.com) put together frequent inexpensive group excursions, while magazines like Outdoor Japan (www.outdoorjapan.com), Metropolis (www.metropolis.co.jp) and online Fitness Japan (www.fitnessjp.com) are great sources of information and help locals with shared interests to link up.

Japan as a nation loves baseball and football, as well as the more traditional pastimes such as martial arts, sumo and flower arranging, meaning there will always be chances to partake in or simply enjoy these cultural mainstays. But today, you are just as likely to meet an avid wakeboarder, ice-hockey player or salsa dancer.

Sports and activities can, for the most part, be enjoyed year-round in Japan. There are five distinct seasons: dry winters, pleasant springs and autumns, humid summers and a rainy season in June and July. The urban jungle is outfitted with multiple fields, rinks, swimming pools, courts and arenas, and if the local climate or terrain is less than ideal for your chosen sport (such as for stillwater fishing or rock climbing), it is common to find indoor alternatives.

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