Popular Sports In Japan But Almost Unheard Of Elsewhere

Slippery Stairs popular Japanese sport

Japanese sports are an important part of Japanese culture. Because Japan spent much of its history isolating itself from the rest of the world, at the end of the nineteenth century, Japan quickly embraced a series of sports that it pioneered. 
Surprisingly, many of the nation's top sports are still unheard of outside of Japan. 
These sports are not broadcast on international television and are not streamed by the sportsbooks that you are accustomed to. To watch or bet on any of the games listed below, you must first create a free account with a Japanese "Bukume" (online sportsbook). 

Let me introduce you to seven sports that are very popular in Japan but you've probably never heard of.

Slippery Stairs 

Now for a little less defiant death. Slippery Stairs is a TV show/sports hybrid of Japanese television that's just funny to watch and available on YouTube. Late last year it gained a lot of international interest online and it was shared with mainstream media outlets on Twitter and collected. It is essentially a group of Japanese comedians, all of whom compete in tightening colored robes up to the top of the gravelly-glazed steps. What's so fascinating is that although it might be a frustrating sport, it never stops being funny.

BoTaoshi (bo-tie-o-shee) 

They are not more unconventional than other sports when it comes to unconventional sports. Botaoshi consists of two opposing teams, fighting to take command of a large pole, a brutal version of the classic schoolyard capture the flag-like game.

The name of the game in English is 'pole down.' Each team has 150 players all gathered together to create a wave of crawling bodies fighting for pole ownership. It's fighting and sometimes difficult to watch, but one of a kind.

Onbashira (on-bá-she-ra) 

If a Japanese game could claim Bo Taoshi as the most dangerous one, it would be in the log at Onbashira Matsuri, Onbashira Prefecture of Nagano (Onbashira festival). The highlight is the fact that a great many locals ride massive logs on the side of the mountain every six years and transport them to the main site of the festival. The second section of the route occurs from there if the logs are hung in the year. It's very dangerous, but you can't watch it.

Kyotei ("ki-o-tay")

Kyotei is the Japanese sport of high-powered boat racing! On small boats which are incredibly fast boats, boats race around human-made lakes.

It's like a 500 indy, but it's on the water! On a 1,800-meter track, six boats face off in 3 rounds. In less than two minutes, the race usually ends, so don't blink because you might miss it!

Yukigassen (you-kee-gas-in) 

Snowball competitions in Japan. Your team should capture the flag of the other team or remove all their players by hitting them with snowballs to win Yukigassen. The game is basically like dodgeball meets flag capture, but only with snow. However, the number of snowballs is low; only 90 can be formed before the game starts, so if you want to win, you should aim very high to hit the target players 

Hakone Ekiden

Ekiden has a history of about 100 years and is a traditional Japanese sport. It's like a marathon for a long-distance running relay. The fact that runners are not competitors individually, but rather as teams to finish the distance, is completely different from a Marathon. Depending on the competition the distance and the number of runners may vary. Every rider runs about 5 to 20 km and continues the relay through "Tasuki" to the next rider. In Japan, Ekiden is highly popular with races throughout the country and the Hakone Ekiden is the most renowned. Every year on 2 and 3 January, that major annual competition is a national event. It will take place. There are 21 universities participating in the prestigious competition in the Kanto region. The race begins in Tokyo and lasts around 107.5 km until the first day, the race reaches Hakone in Kanagawa. The relay continues to reach Tokyo on the 2nd day on the 109.6 km return route. The whole route has 10 sections, each race by various runners. Mainly enjoyed the new year holidays.

Sumo (soo-mo) 

Let's end with Sumo, a more known sport internationally and you may already know it's the national sport of Japan in practice since ancient times. In 1684, professional sumo turnouts began. Tomioka Hachiman-gu's Shrine in Tokyo first witnessed Sumo.  Initially, it was imitated after the ancient Shinto ritual that was said to be a form of wrestling between divinity and the mortal. Sumo is won either by removing your competitor out of the ring or by fighting till your opponent's back touches the ground. There are naturally other reasons why a wrestler's or mawashi's belt should not be discredited.

There are six sumo events every year, each covering 15 days, throughout the country. At the start of the day, the bottom-ranking wrestlers have matches, and as the higher-ranking athletes reach the ring or dohyo, the stands slowly fill in. The top two competitors, generally a yokozuna and/or ozeki (the highest and second-highest classifications of sumo competitors).