Playing and watching sports are popular activities in Japan whether it is a traditional sport like sumo, judo or kendo, a team sport like baseball or football or one of the many motor-sports racing series.

There are many opportunities to play sports for every age groups and a school plays an important role in community. Kindergarten and lower elementary school students can play in a private sport club that can be joined for a moderate fee. Most martial arts can be started as young as 4 or 5 years old. When a student starts 5th grade, the school offers free after-school activities for its students to participate. Middle and high schools also let its student join school-sponsored sports clubs and teams. It is rare for an athlete to go professional after graduating from a high school. Most advance to a university often with a scholarship and go professional after graduation. Therefore it is surprising that the Japan Sports Association (JASA) slogan is "SPORTS FOR ALL".

Prefectural level contests and tournaments are held every winter and summer if not more often and for those sports that does not have a professional league, this seasonal contest is the necessary step for eventually competing in an Olympic Games.

Most traditional sports are for the development of skills and only a few sports even have an opponent. An element of team sporting, a match between two group, is limited to a collection of individual games. Many sports were imported and became popular. It is hard to find a sport that is not played in Japan. Some new sports were invented by changing elements of imported sports.

Each year, Japan observes the second Monday in October as Health and Sports Day. The date, originally October 10, commemorates the opening day of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Besides Tokyo, Other cities in Japan that have had hosted an Olympics are SAPPORO (1972 Winter Olympics)and NAGANO (1998 Winter Olympics).

In Japan, Sports are divided into several categories namely;

* Judo (柔道)
* Aikido (合気道)
* Jujitsu (柔術)
* Karate (空手)
* Kemari
* Kendo
* Sumo

* Soccer
* Baseball
* Rugby union
* Table tennis(ping-pong)
* Basketball
* Volleyball

* Auto racing
o Sports car racing - Super GT and Japan Le Mans Challenge
o Formula racing - Formula Nippon
o Drifting - D1 Grand Prix
* Motorcycle sport
o Endurance racing - Suzuka 8 Hours
o Superbike racing - All Japan Road Race Championship
o Auto Race
* Boat racing
o Kyotei


* Ekiden
* Keirin
* Gateball
* Rubber Baseball
* Soft Tennis