banff sunshine village uobewj suk unsplash

Skiing in the Japanese Alps can lead to some amazing surprises.

The Ultimate Sporting Holiday Destinations in Japan

May 13 2024, Published 6:21 a.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

Japan is a dream destination for many. However, one group of tourists who might not immediately look to Japan for their next vacation are sports tourists. It's a real shame that people who are interested in watching and participating in sports often overlook Japan, as there's a surprisingly varied sports landscape in this fascinating country.

Come with us as we travel around Japan and take a look at some of the most staggering stadiums, ancient sporting traditions, and top-of-the-range sports facilities. There's a rich sporting heritage to be uncovered.

Article continues below advertisement

Enjoy World-Class Racing in Tokyo

While many will say that Sakura season is the best time to visit Japan, horse racing aficionados might argue the best time is actually right at the other end of the year. The Japan Cup takes place in late November each year and is one of the most prestigious Group 1 races held in the country. In fact, it's ranked the seventh-best Group 1 race in the world. The race is run over 2,400 meters and has a prize pool of ¥648,000,000 (about $4.2 million). Understandably, it attracts some of the best long-distance horses in the world.

The racecourse itself is right in the heart of Tokyo, so it's perfect for a day out. You can place bets from as little as 100 yen (about $0.60) and watch the action unfold from the stunning grandstand or down by the finishing post. As well as watching the racing, there are a handful of other equestrian activities that you can get involved with. Watching the horses in the pre-parade ring is a wonderful way to see them up close. If you'd like to get even closer then there's the opportunity to take a carriage ride, or even enjoy horseback riding on the placid racetrack ponies.

Watch Sumo Wrestling in Osaka

Article continues below advertisement
bob fisher kvizmoutfc unsplash

There's no display of human strength quite as amazing as sumo wrestling.

Next up is a trip to Osaka, to watch Japan's most famous sport; sumo wrestling. It's a little tricky to watch actual sumo matches as the tickets are reserved long ahead of time by those who live in Osaka. However, it's not impossible! Our suggestion is to purchase tickets for the early morning practice sessions that take place all year round. The atmosphere at these practice sessions is still exhilarating, though a little quieter than actual wrestling matches. This allows you to properly concentrate on the spectacle.

Watching sumo wrestling in its home country is sure to have been an electrifying experience, so a place to wind down for the night is essential. It's recently been announced that Osaka will be home to Japan's first-ever casino resort. The plan is to build an $8.1 billion hotel complex, complete with a shopping mall, museum, and a flashy new casino. At the moment, it's only possible to play at online casinos in Japan. Fans of games like online blackjack, poker and roulette are well-catered for by offshore companies. However, the new resort will allow you to enjoy all of your online favorites, but from a 5-star environment. If you're lucky enough to be making your trip after the resort is built, we'd suggest brushing up on your strategy online ahead of time - and booking into the MGM resort early! Fans of blackjack online can find all of the different variants of this game at sites like PokerStars Casino, so you can be sure to be prepared for the grand opening.

Hit the Slopes in Tohoku

Winter sports enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Japan, but one of our personal favorite ski destinations is the Zao Onsen Ski Resort. You'll find it in the Tohoku province high in the Japanese Alps. The skiing is obviously the main draw to this area, but there are a couple of other charming features that you ought to know about. The first are the 'juhyo' or 'snow monsters' that flank the sides of the ski slopes. These are actually just snow-covered trees, but because of the thickness of the snow, they take on the appearance of a snow-covered monster. It's fun to spot the particularly spooky ones as you fly past them.

As well as the snow monsters, you can also enjoy the hot springs in the village of Zao Onsen. This is the perfect place to bathe after a long day on the slopes. The waters are the perfect temperature to relax your muscles and they're naturally full of rejuvenating vitamins and minerals.


Get On the List.

Say Morning Honey! Sign up here.

More Stories

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 MORNING HONEY™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. MORNING HONEY is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.