Japan’s Sports Day: A Look at Japan’s Favorite Sports and Sports Apps


In just a few days, Japanese people will have another thing called “3連休,” “san renkyū” or a 3-day weekend. The reason why is because every second Monday of October, Japan celebrates Sports day! What, why and how do Japanese people celebrate this day? In this article, we’d like to introduce you to all about Sports day in Japan, and share to you some apps that Japanese people use to enjoy sports as well!

“スポーツの日” or Sports Day is a public holiday in Japan held annually on the 2nd Monday of October. This year it’s going to be on October 9th. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo. The origin of this tradition dates back to the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games on October 10, 1964, where it was established to commemorate the Games.


Sports Day Celebrations

In celebration of Sports Day, October became the season when the most sports events are held throughout the year. Sports Day in Japan is not even just for people who love playing sports, it’s also for people who love watching sports. For Japanese people, this is a great opportunity to experience sports, with many events and discount offers to anything related to sports – sport center fees, sports classes, sports goods, etc. With this, let’s see what sports Japanese people are interested in the most!


Japanese People’s Favorite Sports

This year, LINE Research in Japan conducted a survey asking men and women between the ages of 10 to 60 about their favorite sports/competitions to watch, as well as sports that they want to try in the future, and it was an interesting result!

What sports/competitions do Japanese people like to watch?

Source: LINE Research, Translated in English by ASO index

Overall, ‘Baseball’ and ‘Soccer/Futsal'(or “football” for our dear European readers) secured the top two positions with a narrow margin, each receiving over 30%. ‘Baseball,’ which holds the first place, appears to be highly popular, as it is frequently broadcast on television during the season when the survey took place. Moreover, the World Baseball Classic took place this 2023 and the by far most popular Japanese baseball player of this time, Shohei Otani, made a legendary pitch on the last game of the finals which really attracted attention towards the sport.

‘Soccer/Futsal’ came in second place. During the period when this survey was conducted, the 2022 Soccer World Cup was also being held, and many people were likely enjoying the intense matches.

Following in third place is ‘Figure Skating,’ which is highly popular among women. Contributing to this popularity of watching Figure Skating among women could highly be Yuzuru Hanyu, the GOAT of men’s Figure Skating. He’s been winning gold medals back to back and had done one unforgettable attempt at history with the quadruple Axel. He’s considered to be one of the most famous Japanese athletes of all time. Sad enough that he just announced his retirement from competitions last year, but would continue to be a professional figure skater. His history in figure skating indeed, is a huge reason to watch sports, especially figure skating.

In the fourth position, ‘Volleyball’ garnered over 20% of the respondents’ interest, partly due to the anticipation surrounding the FIVB Paris Olympic Qualifiers/World Cup Volleyball 2023 scheduled to be held in Japan this year.

The fifth position overall was claimed by ‘Marathon/Ekiden,’ which is also well-known, especially for the Hakone Ekiden. ‘Rugby’ secured the seventh place. Others in the list are ‘Tennis’, ‘Athletics’ and ‘Table Tennis.’


What sports/competitions would Japanese people like to try in the future?

Source: LINE Research, Translated in English by ASO index

Regardless of whether they are currently playing sports or not, people were asked what sports/competitions that they would like to try in the future.

When asked about future sports or competitions they’d like to try, 36.3% of respondents expressed no interest. This percentage was under 20% for teenagers but exceeded 30% for those in their 20s and older. It appears that as people age, their preference shifts towards enjoying sports as spectators rather than participants.

The top sports people aspire to try include skiing/snowboarding, with over 10% interest. ‘Badminton,’ ‘Tennis,’ and ‘Golf’ closely follow, all within the 10% range, indicating diverse sporting interests.

Among teenagers, ‘badminton,’ ‘volleyball,’ and ‘basketball’ are popular, especially teenage girls who show over 20% interest in ‘badminton’ and ‘volleyball.’ ‘Basketball’ is preferred by just under 20% of teenage boys. Additionally, ‘tennis,’ ‘soccer/futsal,’ and ‘table tennis’ are popular options among teenagers, often influenced by school or club activities.

In their 20s, ‘swimming’ ranks fourth in interest. Surprisingly, ‘golf’ tops the list for those in their 50s and 60s, notably with a 16.5% interest rate among those in their 60s. Men, especially those in their 60s, express higher interest in these sports, reaching 26.2%.

Preferences for enjoying sports vary, from active participation to watching. Interestingly, many young individuals, including teenagers, aspire to actively participate in sports and competitions. With age, there’s a tendency to shift towards greater interest in watching sports rather than actively engaging in them.


Japanese People’s Most Favorite Sports Apps

We’ve used our tool ASO index to find out what are the most downloaded apps of Japan App Store users for Sports category, in both free and paid apps.

Top 5 Free Apps in Sports Category in Japan App Store

Top 5 Free Apps in Sports Category in Japan App Store | Date: 4 Oct 2023

  1. アコーディア・ゴルフ ー ポイントカード・予約・スコア管理: This is the official app of Accordia Golf, Japan’s largest golf course management company.
  2. WINTICKET(ウィンチケット)-競輪/オートレース予想: WINTICKET is an internet-based betting and viewing platform for these particular sports. Users can engage in betting, watch live races, access AI predictions, and settle their transactions through this app.
  3. Adidas: The “adidas” app is a mobile application offered by the sportswear and footwear company Adidas.
  4. ラウンドワン スペシャルクーポン毎週配信!: This app appears to be the official app for “Round One,” a chain of entertainment and amusement facilities that offer a variety of activities, including bowling, karaoke, and sports activities.
  5. SmoothSwing: Shot Tracer is a golf app that focuses on real-time shot tracing, provides golf GPS features, assists in club selection, and considers elevation changes for more accurate distance calculations.

Top 5 Paid Apps in Sports Category in Japan App Store

Top 5 Paid Apps in Sports Category in Japan App Store | Date: 4 Oct 2023

  1. ゴルフスコアカウンター – スマートなゴルフカウンター: This app, known as “ゴルフスコアカウンター” (Golf Score Counter), allows users to record their golf scores in real-time during play on an Apple Watch
  2. Lineup – Football Squad: The “Lineup – Football Squad” app enables users to create and save football lineups as images, with options to rearrange players, change player images, and share the lineup via various platforms.
  3. Shot Tracer: The Shot Tracer app is a tool for golfers, offering features like Ball flight tracking, swing and putt tracing, amazing 3D map overlays, and more.
  4. The Golf Tracer: “The Golf Tracer” is a golf tracer app that allows you to trace your golf shots using your phone.
  5. SprintTimer – 写真判: SprintTimer is a unique sports timer and photo finish app that employs the same techniques as the fully automatic timing equipment (FAT) used at the Olympics. 

Among the ranking apps in the Sports category in the Japan App Store, both free and paid, 5 apps are related to golf, usually related to helping users to get better at their golf skills. The data shows that Japanese people actually have interest in learning golf, as it ranked on the sports Japanese people would like to try in the future based on the LINE Research results. 

Takeaways for Marketing in Japan

  1. The most popular sport in Japan is baseball, but what they like to try doing is golf, skiing, badminton, table tennis, and tennis. 
  2. Thus, baseball can be the most impactful sport for sports streaming apps.
  3. Sportswear and healthcare/fitness apps may show golf or badminton. 


In conclusion, as Japan gears up to celebrate Sports Day on October 9th, it’s worth noting the significance of this holiday, which commemorates the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Sports Day is more than just a day for athletes; it’s a nationwide celebration that promotes sports and physical activity for all. Japanese people not only love watching sports like baseball and soccer but also aspire to try a diverse range of sports in the future, from skiing to golf. This evolving preference from active participation to spectatorship reflects the changing interests across different age groups. It’s noteworthy that the popularity of certain sports, such as golf, extends to mobile apps designed to enhance users’ skills, reflecting the nation’s enduring enthusiasm for physical activities. For marketers in Japan, understanding these preferences can guide their strategies, with baseball being a prominent choice for sports streaming apps, and sportswear and fitness apps finding potential in golf, badminton, and other sports favored by the Japanese. As Japan prepares to celebrate Sports Day on October 9th, it’s evident that sports continue to play a significant role in the lives and interests of its people.

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