Cricket in Japan

Cricket in Japan

There is an abundance of cricket being played in Japan. If you would like to become a part of the community but are unsure what is out there, then the below should prove helpful. If you have any further questions then please do reach out to us via the ‘Contact‘ page.

Domestic Structure

Senior Leagues

Today the senior cricket structure is split into three main competitions.

  • Japan Cricket League (JCL)
    This is a 40-over competition which has strict entry criteria and only strong, well run teams will be allowed to enter. The competition is made up of two divisions with seven teams in each as of 2016. In Division 1 each team will play each other twice, while in Division 2 it is just once. Each division will culminate in semi-finals and finals to decide the eventual winner.
  • Japan Cup
    This is the domestic Twenty20 competition that is open to anyone. As of 2016 it is split into four divisions; North Kanto, East Kanto, West Kanto (all four teams each) and South Kanto (seven teams). These are all run by their respective regional associations and the winner of each division will qualify for the Japan Cup Finals. This is a three-day event held in Sano during October which will also feature invitational teams from the other regions in Japan.
  • Japan Premier League (JPL)
    Rebranded for 2016, this is a competition played over three match days where players come together to represent their respective regions in Twenty20 Cricket. This is the highest level of domestic cricket in Japan and it is hoped will become the flagship competition going forward.
  • Japan Women’s Cricket League (WCL)
    All women’s cricket in Japan is Twenty20 and at present the league is made up of five teams competing for the title.
  • University League
    Many universities in Japan have cricket clubs who come together to play in a variety of competitions, with the main prize being the “Champions Wicket” which is held every year in September in Akishima.

Junior Leagues

  • Japan U19 Cricket League
    The Under 19 League is made up of five teams based in a variety of locations around the country. Matches are organised throughout the summer to provide as many playing opportunities as possible.
  • Japan U15 Cricket League
    The Under 15 League has steadily grown to the point where 2016 will feature 11 teams competing throughout the season and the top four qualifying for a finals weekend to be played in Sano.

International Competition

Japan have both Men’s and Women’s National teams who compete every year in various tournaments against other international or touring sides.

Japan Men’s National Team first appeared in an internationally recognised tournament in 1996 and has since won the ICC EAP Cricket Cup in 2005 and EAP Trophy in 2007.

The Japan Women’s National Team has had great success in recent years, playing their first tournament at the International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC) Trophy in 2003. In 2010 when they won the ICC EAP Women’s Cricket Trophy, and then won a Bronze Medal at the Asian Games later that year. They repeated the EAP Trophy success in 2012.

For detailed information on past tournaments please visit the respective pages for our Men’s Team and Women’s team.

Junior Participation Programme

The Japan Cricket Association Junior Participation Programme was re-branded as “CRICKET BLAST” in 2014. The programme consists of school visits, tournaments and regular events which encourage children to pick up a bat or ball and learn the sport.  Through “CRICKET BLAST”, the JCA ambitiously seeks to grow participation and instil a lifelong love of cricket.

For more information please visit the CRICKET BLAST page.

Global ICC Development Program Awards

Japan’s first global award was the Best Women’s Cricket Initiative in 2003. Since then Japan has won the Best Overall Development Program in 2008, its second Best Women’s Cricket Initiative in 2010 and the Best Spirit of Cricket Initiative in 2011.


Cricket was first played in Japan in 1863 by the British five years before the time of the Meiji Restoration. The first cricket club, the Yokohama Cricket Club (currently the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club) was founded in 1868 by a Scottish tea merchant named JP Mollison who had previously lived in Shanghai and played cricket there as well. However, unlike baseball which was first introduced around the same time and became a very popular national sport, cricket did not spread out from expatriate circles.