Japanese dramas, coming right next to Korean dramas in great portrayal, are a collection of excellently directed and produced works that have gained extreme popularity over the years. Japanese dramas are known not only for their wide variety of genres but also for profound themes and intricately emotional scenes.
The actors do a wonderful job of familiarizing you with a number of sentimental expressions, all of that will further the plot into a better one. The hype for dramas from both Japan and Korea has been there for this very reason. There is significantly a lot to choose from when it comes to these dramas.
You have the option to watch profound romance, thrilling suspense, and spine-chilling horror. What is interesting is that it is not all that it is limited to. There is also the sports drama genre that includes emotional, dramatic, and romantic connotations you will love to explore.
If you are someone who likes sports and also Japanese dramas or are someone who wishes to explore this genre, look no further. Here is a list of 34 Japanese sports dramas to Watch. A collection you are sure to like.
1. Dansui! (2017)
Dansui! is the heart-warming story of Shuhei, Daiki, and Reo, who used to be childhood friends, belonging to the same swimming team in middle school. The trio made a promise to always be teammates, even in high school.
Unfortunately, Shuhei and Daiki end up going to Higashigaoka High School, and Reo happens to end up in the Ryuuhuo High School, which has a popular and elite swimming team.
Reo achieves great recognition and earns a medal as a part of his talented swimming team, while the other two struggle to keep up and maintain coordination with the others. The drama unfolds as the inter-school national competition comes near, and the tables turn.
2. Holyland (2005)
Holyland is often applauded for the brilliant scripting as well as the suitable casting. The show revolves around high school student Kamishiro Yu who is a misfit and is under constant bullying by his peers. He gets fed up with the constant abuse and decides to take up boxing. He begins to practice in order to seek revenge on those who used to bully him.
With time, Yu’s endeavors catch the attention of local thugs who force him to keep on fighting so he can keep his place, his holy land.
3. Is This Love Checkmate!? (2018)
Taiga Kohinata is a 24-year-old salaryman who lives a simple, dull life without having experienced any of the pleasures that life has to offer. He has never been in a relationship. He wonders if he can ever find a woman who will “make his heart sing.” However, he can never muster up enough courage to speak to a woman.
He soon comes across the 32-year-old Shogi player, Tae Komada, who is at first no one more than a beautiful woman he comes across on his daily commute. He finds it hard to get her out of his head. As his encounters with Tae increase, Taiga realizes that she is the woman of her dreams. But given the difference in their age, the two people face ups and downs in forming a bond of love.
4. Buzzer Beat (2009)
The drama Buzzer Beat narrates the relationship between two individuals who come from contrasting backgrounds. Naoki Kamiya is a professional basketball player under the JC ARCS. Despite his talent, he is a nervous wreck under highly stressful situations and has performance anxiety. On the other hand is Riko, who is trying to delve into the world of classical music as a violinist right out of college.
The two individuals, even though from different walks of life, are working toward their dreams diligently. Upon a chance encounter, the two become each other’s confidante and develop stronger feelings towards each other.
5. Mirei e no 10 Count (2022)
Mirei e no 10 count is the story of Kirisawa Shogo. When he was in high school, he used to be an excellent amateur boxer. After winning four boxing tournaments, his career in the sport seemed extremely bright. Unfortunately, he left the sport during his university days.
His life went on after that. Upon the demise of his beloved wife, his life turns upside down. He loses his desire to live. He spends days to an end working several part-time jobs to earn a living.
One day, he is approached by a friend with an offer to train a boxing team at his old high school. Shogo accepts the position. He soon finds himself feeling alive again around the young boxers who are working hard to achieve something.
Also Read: 38 Thriller Japanese Dramas To Watch in 2022
6. Yowamushi Pedal (2016)
Yowamushi Pedal centered upon Bicycle Racing and came out in 2016. Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku that goes to the Sohoku High School. He rides his bike 90 kilometers after school to visit the Akihabara shopping district because he just loves anime and games that much.
He comes across the cycling team of his own school, which he decides to get into. Once he gets in, his life is changed forever.
7. No Side Game (2019)
No Side Game follows Kimijima Hayato, who works for a big manufacturing company. He wished to be promoted and move higher on the ladder, eventually being successful at his job. This, however, does not come true as he is demoted upon his opposition to a project that the company had undertaken under his boss. He gets demoted to being the chief of general affairs at a factory in the province.
He also is to look after the rugby team that comes under the company. The Astros were once a good team, but they have taken too many losses lately. Hayato wishes to revive the legacy of this team to build his standing in the company. But here is the thing, he does not know anything about rugby.
8. Baby Steps (2016)
Baby Steps has been adapted from a Manga by Hikaru Katsuki. An anime of the same name also came out before the live-action. The plot follows an academically prodigious boy, Eiichirou, who can stay at the top in class due to his excellent reasoning and logical abilities. However, he is not a complete all-rounder when it comes to extra-curricular activities. He is not particularly good at sports.
Things change when he comes across Natsu, a beautiful schoolmate of his who is also a great tennis player. When Natsu borrows his notes, he comes strolling to the tennis court while looking for her to return them. What he sees impresses him, and what begins can be called a keen interest in tennis. With time, he utilizes his skills to excel even at tennis.
9. Shiko Funjatta! (2022)
Starring Hayama Shono and Ihara Rikka in lead roles, Shiko Funjatta! is the story of Moriyama Ryota, who is a senior at Kyoritsu University. He receives a job offer at a reputed company but also gets dumped by Nishino Saki.
His professor puts forward a condition in front of him. He can only graduate if he joins the sumo club and competes in one match at the very least. However, there is only one member of the club- Ohba Honoka. This has remained true for the last two years. The club is about to collapse. With the need to graduate, Ryota goes through harsh training under Honoka and also recruits newer members.
10. Yowakutemo Katemasu (2014)
Yowakutemo Katemasu features a fictional school that sends students to Tokyo University every year. Tam Aoshi happens to be a newly recruited teacher at this school. He also eventually becomes the baseball coach at the school.
Unfortunately, the baseball team only has 5 players now and has never been successful in any match. He motivates these children and makes them collectively aim to win at the Japan High School Baseball Championship.
11. Cheer Dan (2018)
Cheer Dan is basically about cheerleading. Wakaba is a student at the high school in Fukui Prefecture in, Japan. When she was a child, she was in awe of the cheerleaders from the Fukui Chuo High School. She, however, ended up enrolling in a different high school since she thought it would be impossible to get into the JETS.
She soon comes across a transfer student from Tokyo who proposes cheer dance to her. With support throughout, they form their very own elite cheerleading team.
12. Gachi Baka! (2006)
Gondo Tetta used to be a pro boxer but is now a beginning teacher at the Kakinokizaka High School. The school is currently aiming to boost its financial status by investing in boosting students’ skills and strengthening their baseball team. Tetta ends up dealing with a class full of failing students that cannot excel at either sports or studies.
He encourages his students and tries to boost their morale every day, even when the children have no drive at all. “School is not just a place to study but a place to learn how to live,” he would tell them. Tetta does not hesitate to snap at their parents and the school when it comes to bringing things in order. He soon begins his slightly dangerous class.
13. Hana Kimi Remake (2011)
Hana Kimi Remake is a one of its kind show that features talented names like Miura Shohei, Maeda Atsuko, and Nakamura Aoi. It is also the adaptation of the manga by Nakajo Hisaya. It revolves around Ashiya Mizuki, who just came back to Japan from California, where she had been raised. She eventually falls in love with Sano Izumi, a high jump champion who has quit the sport after an accident.
Wanting to bring him back into pursuing the sport further, she enrolls in the same high school as a boy. She does it all, gets short hair, flattens her chest and lowers her voice, and even shares the same room as Sano.
14. Attack No. 1 (2005)
People who like Haikyuu!! You are sure to love Attack No. 1 as well. The story is about Kozue Ayuhara, an optimistic volleyball player, and her journey to becoming a regular on her team. Kozue receives her big break at volleyball when she gets handpicked by the Japanese Volleyball Federation for attending the honorable national training camp.
Her golden opportunity is looked down upon by her teammates, sadly. They think she is rather undeserving of the spot, and none of them are truly happy about her getting her big break. Her closest friend on the team, Midori Hayakawa, is considered one of the best players and also believes along with the others that Kozue should not be the one going for the training.
15. Ace Wo Nerae! (2004)
Ace Wo Nerae! has been adapted from the manga of the same name, written by Sumika Yamamoto. The drama is about Oka Hiromi, who immediately joins the tennis club upon getting into Nishi High School. When she sees Reika Ryuzaki, a talented tennis player playing in a match, she is filled with enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, Hiromi has no prior experience in the sport and can do nothing but do side drills with the newbies while the skilled players practice on the courts. When the team gets a new, stricter coach Munakata Jin, things begin to change. He is moved by Hiromi’s determination and invests more time into her training.
16. Wonderful Life (2004)
Wonderful life showcases Kirishima, the most famous baseball player in Japan. Due to an injury, he has to retire. After his family abandons him, he is left with a vacant spot as a coach for the young boys’ baseball team. This team has not won a match as of yet and is about to get disbanded. Will Kirishima be able to do something about this?
Kirishima inspires youngsters through the television screen. “Dreams come true,” he would tell them. His technique at baseball has made him the “miracle man” in people’s eyes. However, Kirishima is but an arrogant, selfish, and flirtatious man who spends money carelessly.
Mizuki is an aspiring lawyer whose brother is part of the team Kirishima coaches. Her brother does not like Kirishima. She also has formed a bad opinion of the man and considers him a man who fools around and deceives children.
17. Banjou no Alpha (2019)
Banjou no Alpha shows newspaper journalist Akiba Shunsuke who gets transferred to the cultural desk. He is now put in charge of shogi. Here he meets Sanada Nobushige, who is a 33-year-old aspiring professional Shogi player. He wishes to achieve the rank of 4-dan or more.
Sanada is, however, at a loss since he could not reach 4-dan by the time he was 26. He is now trying to take admission to 3-dan through an exam. Akiba supports Sanada’s ambition to become a professional Shogi player and, in the process, becomes interested in the game himself. The drama is widely appreciated for its informative themes and bromance.
18. Amachan (2013)
Amachan is about Aki Amano, who is a high school student. She tries to become a female diver in the rural hometown where her mother used to live in Iwata Prefecture. Aki takes inspiration from her grandmother Natsu in becoming a diver. Natsu is a woman diver, or rather, an “ama” diver. Aki gets highly intrigued by this and decides to do this herself as well.
Aki spends a lot of time confined indoors, so rural life excites her. She gets moved by her grandmother’s fierceness in diving, which leaves a huge impact on her in the long term.
19. Water Boys (2003)
Water Boys narrates the story of five high school boys that have brought great fame to their small town in Japan. What they did so through was their “Men’s synchronized swimming club.” They had their struggles in learning, practicing, and executing synchronized swimming which is a sport that is primarily considered a feminine and girly one. This bought them the attention of both their school and town entirely.
It has now been two years since they became famous, and the club is still intact. The drama shows the struggles and the aspects of their daily lives while they learn synchronized swimming and experience love as well as friendship.
20. Tumbling (2010)
If you are looking for drama with excellent dedication from the actors, watch Tumbling. The actors went through rigorous gymnastics training to live up to the parameters of their respective characters. Tumbling is about a local high school where the hell breaks loose when the men’s rhythmic gymnastics club adds new members, a gang of the school’s “worst” boys.
With their brilliant skill at the sport, they make a believer out of everyone at school. The show mainly focuses on men’s rhythmic gymnastics, which is original to Japan, while also focusing on true friendships between youth and the importance of working harder.
21. Fake Motion: King of Ping Pong (2020)
Fake Motion: King of Ping Pong narrates the story of a future world where table tennis is an honorable and esteemed sport taught in schools across Tokyo. The plot follows the members of the table tennis team of the Shibuya High School in East Tokyo. Their team has always ranked at the top of the ranking system for high school table tennis. These members have grown arrogant upon their continuous victory over all this time.
Ebisu High’s team then tries to challenge the Shibuya High team to a duel. They eventually lost the match and plummeted to the bottom of the ranking, leaving Shibuya High again at the highest rank. Sometime later, the captain of Ebisu High’s team approaches Ritsu, who is an excellent table tennis player. He tries to persuade him to rejoin the team so they can together throw Shibuya High off the ranks.
22. Team Astro (2005)
When young J. Shuro meets the legendary pitcher Eiji Sawamura in the Philippines at the time of World War II, he realizes they both share a dream. They both wish to gather a team of nine “Astro superhumans,” all of whom must have been born at 09:09:09 hours on September 9th of the year 1954, all having baseball-shaped birthmarks somewhere on their bodies. They believe that this team is capable of becoming the ultimate baseball team in history, capable of defeating the Yomiuri Giants and any other U.S. Major League Team.
In unfortunate incidents, Sawamura dies in the war, and J. Shuro decides to carry on the dream of his idol. He goes on to look for these nine-ball players. The team that is eventually formed is not an ordinary one; instead, they display extraordinary abilities.
23. Suikyuu Yankees (2014)
Suikyuu Yankees are about Inaba Naoya. He grew up abroad and has grown extremely fond of Yankees because he was once saved by one as a child. When he returns to Japan, he is to attend high school for one year.
He chooses a rundown school that is filled with delinquent students (deemed by him as Yankee-like). He soon finds out that the school has a sport that is important to them, water polo. He takes charge of rebuilding the water polo club and gives his classmate a truer purpose that they can focus on.
24. Akagi (2015)
The main centric game in Akagi is Mahjong (a game of four players). The white-haired and young Shigeru Akagi is a brilliant Mahjong player. In the summer of 1965, he is faced by the fearsome King of Darkness named Washizu Iwao. Akagi’s fresh blood is the stake in a game of life and death, where they play a game of “Washizu Mahjong,” a special game with special rules.
25. Idaten (2019)
Idaten is a non-fictional drama and focuses on the story of 52 years regarding the three editions of the Stockholm Olympics (1912), the Berlin Olympics (1936), and the Tokyo Olympics (1964). It features Kanakuri Shisou, who was the first Japanese man to participate in the Stockholm Olympics and to make a world record. It also features Tabata Masaji, who brought the Olympics to Japan.
26. Pride (2004)
Pride is about Murase Aki, who has been waiting for a boyfriend who has not contacted her in two years. She is dragged by her friends into watching an ice hockey match sometime later. At an after-party following the match, Aki is noticed by the captain of the hockey team, Haru. He falls in love with her right at first sight. He stages a fight to grab her attention, and that is where their relationship starts.
Haru, however, is rather flippant towards the idea of romance. Aki, on the other hand, is a faithful partner, as is seen of her when he waits on a partner who does not even contact her. The pair need to work out their differences as people to have a relationship.
27. Muscle Girl (2011)
Muscle Girl is the interesting story of Azusa, who is the only child of the owner of a small female pro-wrestling organization. Upon her father’s death due to an illness, she is to take over this business. The organization is losing money and is under quite a lot of loss too. It is even on the verge of shutting down.
Things go down even more, when their referee, who is supposed to preside over a show, suddenly disappears. Azusa runs into a young Korean man and asks him to pose as the referee in a state of desperation. What she does not know is that he is a famous star in Korea.
28. H2: Kimi to Ita Hibi (2005)
H2: Kimi to Ita Hibi revolves around Kunimi Hiro, who used to be an ace pitcher in junior high school. However, he could not continue with that once he gets diagnosed with “glass elbow.” He then gave up on playing baseball and joined the soccer team of the Senkawa Senior High School. An incident then reignites his passion for baseball, and he soon finds himself competing with an old friend turned rival, Tachibana Hideo, who now goes to Meiwa No. 1 High School.
Hideo’s girlfriend, Amamiya Hikari, who is also Hiro’s childhood friend, finds herself involuntarily drawn toward Hiro in the process. The story is mainly about young baseball players wanting to spear in the Koushien baseball tournament and love in youth.
29. 1 Pound no Fukuin (2008)
The plot follows Hatanaka Kosaku, a brilliant boxer who became a pro at just the age of 19. But what is wrong is his having no guts as well as his uncontrollable hunger. He gets hungry very easily and gets knocked out in tournaments due to his gluttony for the food at the ringside.
His life, however, changes when he comes across Sister Angela, who is a nun at a convent near his gym. He makes her his only source of power and fights only ever to win her heart.
30. Yamaonna Nikki (2016)
Yamaonna Nikki is about 40 years old Tachibana Yuzuki who has just become a mountain climbing guide. While she is on her first solo guide job climbing Mount Myoko, she is met with other female members of her group, like Yumi and Ritsuko, who work in departmental stores, and Mitsuko, who works for a welfare facility.
All of these first-time climbers have their reasons to take this expedition and are all led around by Kijima, who happens to be Yuzuki’s senior but is younger than she is.
31. Rikuo (2017)
Rikuo shows Koichi Miyazawa, who runs a small company that makes traditional Japanese socks. Due to a decrease in demand, the company is struggling at the moment. Koichi thinks of releasing a new product, running shoes. With knowledge about making traditional Japanese socks, the man works to develop effective running shoes.
32. Golden Bowl (2002)
Golden Bowl follows 32-year-old Shu Akutagawa. As a stock analyst, he sits behind a computer screen all day, dealing with numbers. When he has free time, he goes to the quiet bowling alley called “Golden Bowl” for some leisure time. He delivers consecutive strikes, which makes it clear that he has a talent for the sport.
The Golden Bowl, however, has been under loss due to lesser customers over time. The owner wishes to shut it down, but the workers there oppose the decision. Later, it is decided that those wishing to shut down the place and those who are not will hold a bowling competition to conclude. Shu is accompanied by the 38-year-old woman, Hitomi Sakura, who is his neighbor and later a lover in saving the place from closing down.
33. Naguru Onna (1998)
Naguru Onna’s storyline is about accountant Yoshimura Kaoru when she gets fired by the company she used to work at. While she is desperately searching for jobs, she takes on at the Paradise Gym, which is a boxing gym.
She ends up becoming the trainer for an old boxer named Sawada Ryohei, who is trying to do something in boxing after quitting his job. While she dislikes the sport, she finds herself drawn to the rude and obnoxious Ryohei.
34. Rookies (2008)
Rookies throw light on the great influence that a good teacher has on the lives of students. The Futagotamagawa High School’s baseball team is full of delinquents. They believe that excelling at sports and winning at them is a far-fetched dream. As a result, they do not put time and effort into working or practicing.
Their baseball careers take a turn when they come across the dedicated Koichi Kawato, who has just come to the school. While he is a teacher of Japanese Literature, he also eventually works towards reforming these children. He believes even they have dreams of their own and they are all worth protecting. The drama also has a movie called “Rookies the Movie: Graduation,” which came out in 2009.