The 8 Most Popular Sports in Japan (part 2)

  1. Auto Racing

In Japan, auto racing has existed since the 1920s, but the sport only had a permanent, dedicated track after the Tamagawa Speedway was opened in 1936. Soichiro Honda was one of the early competitors at the new track, then went on to found the eponymous car company and newly formed Nissan competed with its own factory team.

After that, in 1962, Honda continued to open the Suzuka International Racing Course, also known as the Suzuka Circut. The track has hosted many major world championship events, most typically Formula One. On the other hand, in the early 1960s, Mitsubishi also opened the racecourse Fuji Speedway (now owned by Toyota). Although there are more than 20 auto racing tracks in Japan, all of the biggest races in the country mostly happened at one of these two tracks.

  1. Golf

Like many other sports in this list, golf was imported to Japan from the West following the Meiji Restoration. Arthur Hesketh Groom, a British expat who had been living in Kobe for more than 30 years, was tired of not having the ability to play his beloved sport. Therefore, he and his friends made a four-hole golf course on Mount Rokko. The course was completed in 1901, then was expanded in 1903 to nine-hole and became the Kobe Golf Club.

Golf still remained a sport mostly for expats and Western-educated Japanese until a course was opened in Tokyo in 1914, introducing golf to members of Japan’s more traditional elite, then quickly expanding with up to 71 courses opened by 1940.

Because Japanese social class system was disrupted during World War II, more and more new middle class’s members began playing golf, resulting in a new wave of players. Golf became a new business venue and a sign of upward mobility till the collapse of the economic bubble in 1990s. In the present, golf isn’t restricted by class, gender, and age.

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