J2 League team Matsumoto Yamaga Photo: J.League
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Hometown heroes: 5 Japanese soccer clubs for 5 types of fans

10 Comments
By Liam Carrigan

As the international reputation of Japanese soccer continues to grow — especially in light of a surprisingly good World Cup performance— so, too, does its domestic scene.

A mere 25 years after the country’s first pro organization — the Japan Professional Soccer League — was set up, what started as a single division of eight clubs has now grown into a three-division league with a total of 54 teams.

If we compare the divisions of the Japanese league to that of, say, England then the first division J1 League is the top tier, the equivalent of the Premier League. One level down is the J2 League, equivalent to English Football League Championship. At the lowest tier, the J3 League is equivalent to League One.

While the J.League has proven to be a great success in the quarter century since its inception, the fact remains these are still very young clubs and in their current form, lack the history and the political subtexts that compel many fans elsewhere in the footballing world to pledge allegiance a particular team. For example, in Spain teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona have the Catalan separatist versus Spanish loyalist angle, Argentina’s Boca Juniors versus River Plate pits the working class against the establishment and in my hometown, Glasgow, the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers stems from the fallout of Irish catholic immigration in the late 1800s. Perhaps it’s a good thing that these narratives don’t really exist in Japanese football.

Some clubs here, though, have carved out a distinct identity for themselves that will appeal to certain types of soccer enthusiasts.

An important footnote before we begin. The season schedule in Japan is different from the August to May schedule most European fans are familiar with. The J.League runs from the end of February until the beginning of December, with the final Emperor’s Cup match in December bringing the curtain down on the season.

So, what kind of football fan are you and what J.League team should you support? Here are five teams you might consider following depending on your own attitude as a football fan.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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How is that different from boxing?

An old-fashioned sense of what's permissible in a fight, perhaps? Aesthetics? Boxing goes back to classical times, after all.

Too much of what happens in MMA seems like a violation of everything that 'a fair fight' is supposed to be about. I grew up in a scrappy town, went to an all-boys school. There were things you could get away with in a fight, things you couldn't. MMA turns all that on its head, tells you that all the 'wrong' things - kicking, elbowing etcetera, are OK. It ups the gore quotient, spatters the ring with far more blood than your average boxing match. The brutality that's perhaps more low-key, and certainly isn't necessarily required in more skilful boxing matches is overt, front and centre, in MMA. And, it seems, that's what the crowds want.

Thing is, it's a personal issue. I don't regard your liking for MMA as "sad" just because I don't share it.

People would be better off focusing on their own successes and failures.

You make the classic error of the uninvolved in that you assume that the identification of the fan with the fortunes of the team he/she supports must necessarily mean that the fan loses focus on their own successes and failures, or presumably on other, more 'serious' issues in life.

That's just not true, sport.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good read.

Tend to be fairly old school re club footy & who one 'should' root for; YOUR team should always be your hometown team and/or team you picked as a kid! Also ok to support team(s) based in a country/state/city we currently live in (or have lived in). These are our teams rather than OUR/MY team though.

But tbf, am not too fussed about how ppl 'choose' their team i.e. some like the name, sponsor (bit weird/shallow this one), colours, top players etc. As someone who's into sports & politics, i often like/support teams based on their history, culture and/or political affiliation (if any).

As for J clubs, I don't think they have a very strong brand (as in identity, core values, things they stand for etc) that's why I -sort of- support my local clubs vissel kobe & the steelers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You support the team nearest your home or where you were brought up. Anything else is just sad.

I’d go with that. Watching teams from neighbourimg cites or towns lose is fun too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Mito Hollyhock, purely for the name. Good article though
1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mito Hollyhock, purely for the name

I used to like Kyoto Purple Sanga for the same reason, 'sanga' being Australian slang for sausage. Now they've dropped the 'Purple' and it's just not the same.

The J-League should be the model for Australia's A-League. The A-League has been going for nearly 15 years now and imo hasn't really grabbed most people's imagination. Circumstances are different, of course, but I think most Australian fans would be delighted if we could replicate even part of the J-League's success.

Disappointing to read about the Urawa Red Diamonds and the "Japanese Only". Bottom of my list, boys.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You support the team nearest your home or where you were brought up. Anything else is just sad.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I’d go with that. Watching teams from neighbourimg cites or towns lose is fun too.

Yes, watching west ham fail is always a joy. Their current form is a source of delight.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To those of us not into sports, supporting someone else playing a sport, whether they live near you or not, is kind of sad. Why do you care if some other grown adult wins a game or not?

Well, if you don't get it, then you just don't get it.

I was "unlucky enough" to be born in the UK in a town where my team has only managed a couple of championships in over 100 years of playing. But that's better than most. I'm also unlucky enough to support a team in Australia which regularly finishes at the bottom of the league. So what? You stay loyal, because that's the right thing to do.

Why is that "sad"? I don't attempt suicide/go on benders/beat anyone up/take drugs because of it.

Personally I quite like boxing, but MMA - I just don't get why you'd like watching two guys smash, kick and elbow each other's faces in and cover the floor of a cage with blood, just to enjoy seeing the happy winner.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You support the team nearest your home or where you were brought up. Anything else is just sad.

To those of us not into sports, supporting someone else playing a sport, whether they live near you or not, is kind of sad. Why do you care if some other grown adult wins a game or not?

The only sport I really like is MMA, and I enjoy seeing the winners for their happiness because I can imagine that getting locked into a cage with another person until one comes out the winner would be an amazing feeling. But I don't wrap my own identity into that, or care where they are from.

And what if you are unlucky enough to get born close to a team where they are all bad-mannered, and never win. Why support them?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Why is that "sad"?

When people get happy or sad based on the performance of some guys they didn’t train, and have nothing to do with their success or failure, it’s sad. People would be better off focusing on their own successes and failures.

Personally I quite like boxing, but MMA - I just don't get why you'd like watching two guys smash, kick and elbow each other's faces in and cover the floor of a cage with blood, just to enjoy seeing the happy winner.

How is that different from boxing? The only difference is that MMA fighters have more tools at their disposal than a punch. It also means they need to have more defenses in their toolbox in order to survive.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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