This season J1 is employing an apertura/clausura format, and today is the last game of Stage One. It's a bit strange that the powers that be have made this change, after they abandoned a similar format in 2004. Also unusual is the fact that while J1 and the fourth-tier JFL are using the apertura/clausura system, J2 and J3 are not.
Going into today's action Urawa Red Diamonds have already won Stage One. They will play the winner of Stage Two and the leaders of the overall table in a championship playoff in the autumn.
Montedio Yamagata [1 - 3] Gamba Osaka.
We've followed a few Japanese clubs here in past seasons. How are they doing this year? Consadole Sapporo are near the top of J2, and Mito HollyHock are near the bottom. Grulla Morioka are near the bottom of J3.
Women's World Cup. Tuesday it was Japan [2 - 1] Netherlands. Today it's England [2 - 1] Canada, and Australia [0 - 1] Japan.
Wednesday Aberdeen defeated Brechin City 2 - 8 in a friendly at Glebe Park, raising the question, "Can they win the Treble?"
Japanese soccer began during the reign of the Taisho Emperor in the 1920s. In its first phase it was dominated by amateur clubs, usually based in universities such as Kwansei Gakuin. After the war, with Japan's rapid industrialisation, company teams prevailed. The players were still amateur but had steady day jobs with the sponsoring corporations. Some of the top clubs today started out that way, the best example being Urawa Red Diamonds, the former Mitsubishi team (Mitsubishi's logo being three red diamonds).
In 1993 the J League was created as a fully professional circuit of financially self-sufficient clubs stocked with Japanese players capable of cleaning up in the World Cup. Along with the new league came The 100 Year Plan: 100 clubs by 2093. The first season there were ten clubs in one division. This year there are 53 in three divisions, plus a waiting list of seven clubs.
An unspoken part of the 100 Year Plan is to make the sport more popular than baseball. So, which is more popular, Sanfrecce Hiroshima or the Hiroshima Carp? In a way it's oranges and apples because baseball plays so many more games than soccer. But if you take average attendance it looks like baseball still has the lead. Average attendance at Carp home games in 2013 was 21,447 (based on), whereas average attendance at Sanfrecce home games in 2011 was 13,203.
Women's World Cup, June 15: Netherlands 1 - 1 Canada. June 16: Ecuador 0 - 1 Japan. Canada and Japan both qualify for the Round of 16. Tomorrow: Canada vs Switzerland. If Canada get past the Swiss there is the possibility of a Canada - Japan semifinal in Edmonton on Canada Day. [Canada 1 - 0 Switzerland.]
Where do Japan's female footballers play when they're not at the Women's World Cup? They play in the L League. The L League has been around since 1989, has three divisions encompassing 32 clubs, and is still mainly non-professional. The most successful club over time has been NTV Beleza, 12-time league champions, 5-time league cup winners, and 11-time Empress's Cup winners.
Cedars, snow, pagoda.: it must be Mount Haguro. Source.
The flag of Yamagata Prefecture features a stylized view of The Three Mountains of Dewa: Haguro, Gassan and Yudono. Dewa was a medieval province that encompassed most of western Tohoku, and corresponds closely to the modern prefectures of Yamagata and Akita. The three mountains had become places of religious practice by the sixth century. But Haguro, Gassan and Yudono were not just holy places, they were themselves gods. The Montedio in Montedio Yamagata is a coinage made from Latin-ish words for "mountain god".
Montedio host Yokohama in J League Nabisco Cup action. This is the last game of the group stage. With a win and some lucky results elsewhere Montedio can advance to the cup quarter-finals. [Yokohama win 0 - 2.]