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Fitness and Sport for Expats in Japan

Submitted: March 2014


The Japanese love of sports is evidenced by the highly competitive standard which they maintain in world sports. In Japan, you will be able to observe traditional sports such as Sumo and varieties of martial arts such as karate and judo as well as sports like football (soccer). It may even come as a surprise that baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan.

Newcomers will quickly see that many traditional Japanese sports can be truly considered art forms. In this regard, many persons take great pleasure in spectating. For more information on obtaining tickets or the schedule of these events, please refer to the links below:

By using the resource below you can find various sporting events that you can partake in:

Additionally, you can also use the resources below to keep updated on sporting news:



Going to the gym may have formed part of your normal routine in your home country and you would obviously want to get right back into such routines when you have settled in Japan. Even if you have never made a habit of exercising, you can consider joining a gym as a pastime and healthy activity.

The first step in your fitness quest is choosing a new gym and this can be a time consuming process, especially in a new country.  The process of finding a gym is of particular importance as you need to find a suitable environment for your needs and a comfortable place where you can realistically achieve your fitness goals. In this regard, it is recommended that you visit prospective gyms in order to get a feel of the environment and the services that are offered. You should check whether any of the gyms on your list offer day passes so that you can get an accurate idea of its gym experience. Other enquiries that must be made include the number of members, peak and low times, additional classes, and whether insurance is offered.

Fortunately for you, there are resources such as the ones provided below that can make finding a gym easier for you. You can search categories such as geographical location, type of exercise, services and facilities to find narrow your selection. Please see the links below:

The average cost of gym membership can be ¥5,000 (50USD) to ¥8,000(80USD) per month. However there are plans which can cost up to ¥15,000 (150USD) per month. Additionally if you choose to join a chain gym, you may be able to purchase membership which allows you access to all gyms of that chain. This option will inevitably be more costly but if your work requires you to travel across Japan, this may be an effective option.

If the cost of attending a private gym is too high, you can consider attending a public gym. In Japan, many of the wards run public fitness centres that are much cheaper than private gyms. In order to find out more information about this option, you can visit the ward office in your area. For list of ward offices in some areas, please see the links below:

For example in Minato City in Tokyo, if you are a resident of the city you will have to pay a registration fee of ¥400 (4USD) or ¥700 (7USD) for non-residents and will be able to use all of the facilities. For more information, please refer to the links below:

You should be aware that tattoos are often prohibited in gyms and public pools in Japan. While some gyms may allow you to cover up your tattoo, others have an outright ban of admitting persons with tattoos.

Additionally, you are required to bring an extra pair of shoes to the gym rather using “street shoes” or trainers/sneakers that you would wear outside.

Sometimes due to other commitments or time restraints, the routine of going to a gym may be difficult to maintain. Also there are others who are not comfortable in working out in a public environment.  In this regard, you could consider investing in gym equipment such as treadmills or ellipticals for your use at home. You can refer to the links below for options to purchase your sporting and fitness needs:



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