What Happened to Squash Sport in Japan?

Squash is a popular sport that has been played for decades in Japan. It is a game that requires strength, agility, and strategy, making it a favorite among athletes and spectators alike. However, in recent years, the sport has seemingly disappeared from the Japanese sports scene. This raises the question, “What happened to squash in Japan?” In this article, we will explore the history of squash in Japan, its decline, and the possible reasons behind it. We will also look at the efforts being made to revive the sport and bring it back to its former glory. So, let’s dive in and find out what happened to squash in Japan.

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The Rise of Squash in Japan

The Origins of Squash in Japan

In the early 1920s, Japan saw the introduction of the sport of squash by a British expatriate. The game quickly caught on among the expatriate community and soon began to spread to the local population. This marked the beginning of squash’s rise in Japan, a country where the sport would eventually become one of the most popular and beloved athletic activities.

Squash was initially played in the compounds of the foreign communities in Japan, particularly in Tokyo and Yokohama. These compounds were often located in areas that were easily accessible to the Japanese population, and this allowed for the sport to be easily disseminated to the local people.

One of the main reasons why squash gained popularity so quickly in Japan was due to its accessibility. Unlike other sports, such as tennis or golf, squash did not require a large amount of space or expensive equipment. This made it an ideal sport for the crowded cities of Japan, where space was at a premium and many people could not afford to purchase expensive equipment.

In addition to its accessibility, squash also offered a unique and exciting form of exercise. The fast-paced nature of the sport, combined with its emphasis on physical fitness and mental agility, made it an attractive option for many Japanese people who were looking for a new and challenging way to stay in shape.

Overall, the origins of squash in Japan can be traced back to the early 1920s, when the sport was introduced by a British expatriate. From these humble beginnings, squash would go on to become one of the most popular and beloved sports in the country, with millions of people playing the game every year.

The Development of Squash in Japan

In the 1960s, the Japan Squash Association was established, which marked the beginning of a significant development in the sport of squash in Japan. This development was characterized by a number of key factors, including the construction of new courts, the establishment of a national championship, and the introduction of international competitions.

One of the main factors that contributed to the growth of squash in Japan was the construction of new courts. The establishment of new courts in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka made the sport more accessible to the general public, which led to an increase in the number of players. The Japan Squash Association also played a key role in this development by providing support and resources to new courts.

Another important factor in the development of squash in Japan was the establishment of a national championship. The first national championships were held in the 1960s, and this helped to increase the profile of the sport in Japan. The national championships provided a platform for players to showcase their skills and for the public to become more familiar with the sport.

In addition to the establishment of a national championship, the introduction of international competitions also played a significant role in the development of squash in Japan. The country hosted the World Squash Championships in 1973, which helped to raise the profile of the sport and attract more attention from the general public. This event also provided an opportunity for Japanese players to compete against some of the best players in the world, which helped to improve their skills and boost their confidence.

Overall, the development of squash in Japan in the 1960s was characterized by a number of key factors, including the construction of new courts, the establishment of a national championship, and the introduction of international competitions. These factors helped to increase the profile of the sport and attract more attention from the general public, which laid the foundation for the growth of squash in Japan in the years to come.

The Decline of Squash in Japan

Key takeaway: Squash was introduced to Japan in the early 1990s by a British expatriate and quickly gained popularity due to its accessibility and unique form of exercise. However, the sport struggled to receive government support and corporate sponsorship, leading to a decline in interest and participation. Efforts to revive squash in Japan include the establishment of new squash clubs, the introduction of squash into physical education programs, and collaboration with international squash organizations. There is still potential for growth in squash in Japan, particularly through increased investment in infrastructure and development, as well as a focus on growing the sport among young people.

Lack of Funding and Support

Despite its growing popularity, squash struggled to receive funding and support from the Japanese government and sports organizations. This lack of resources made it difficult for the sport to grow and maintain its popularity.

  • Insufficient Government Support: The Japanese government has traditionally favored sports like baseball, soccer, and sumo wrestling, providing them with significant financial support and recognition. Squash, as a less established sport, received minimal attention and funding from the government, hindering its development at the grassroots level.
  • Limited Corporate Sponsorship: Unlike other popular sports in Japan, squash did not have a strong presence in the corporate sector. While baseball and soccer leagues attracted numerous sponsors, squash struggled to secure financial backing from corporations, resulting in limited funding for tournaments, facilities, and player development programs.
  • Lack of Media Coverage: Squash’s lack of media exposure also contributed to its decline in Japan. With limited television coverage and newspaper articles, the sport struggled to gain public attention and interest, making it difficult to attract new players and spectators.
  • Ineffective Marketing: Squash faced challenges in marketing itself to the Japanese public. The sport’s promotion and advertising efforts were not as effective as those of other popular sports, leaving squash with a smaller fan base and fewer opportunities for growth.
  • Poor Management: The administration of squash in Japan was plagued by infighting and mismanagement, leading to a lack of unity and direction within the sport. This internal conflict hindered the development of a strong squash community and prevented the sport from benefiting from potential partnerships and collaborations.

These factors combined to create a challenging environment for squash in Japan, ultimately contributing to its decline in popularity and participation.

Changes in Japanese Society

  • Shift in Focus towards Individualistic Pursuits
    • Japan’s economic boom in the 1980s led to a significant increase in disposable income, which in turn fueled the growth of leisure activities.
    • Golf and tennis, two sports that are played individually, gained popularity among the Japanese population.
    • As a result, squash, a team sport, saw a decline in interest.
  • Decreased Emphasis on Team Sports
    • The rise of individualistic pursuits also led to a decrease in the importance of team sports in Japanese society.
    • The media began to focus more on individual athletes and their achievements rather than on team sports.
    • This shift in focus had a direct impact on the popularity of squash, as it was no longer seen as a viable career path for young athletes.
  • Lack of Squash Facilities
    • Another factor that contributed to the decline of squash in Japan was the lack of facilities.
    • Many schools and universities in Japan did not have squash courts, making it difficult for young people to get involved in the sport.
    • The lack of facilities also made it difficult for squash tournaments to take place, which further reduced the sport’s visibility.
  • Lack of Success in International Competitions
    • Despite the popularity of squash in Japan in the 1970s, the country’s players were not successful in international competitions.
    • This lack of success made it difficult for the sport to gain traction in Japan, as people were less likely to become interested in a sport that did not have a strong presence on the global stage.
    • The lack of success also led to a lack of funding for squash programs, which further hindered the sport’s growth in Japan.

The Future of Squash in Japan

Revival Efforts

Establishment of New Squash Clubs

One of the main efforts to revive squash in Japan is the establishment of new squash clubs. These clubs are often located in urban areas and offer memberships to individuals interested in playing squash. The clubs provide access to squash courts, coaching, and competitions. They also often host social events and activities to promote the sport and build a community around it.

Introduction of Squash into Physical Education Programs

Another effort to revive squash in Japan is the introduction of the sport into physical education programs in schools. This initiative aims to expose young people to the sport and encourage them to take up squash as a recreational activity or even as a competitive sport. Many schools have begun to include squash in their physical education curriculum, and some have even established squash teams.

Collaboration with International Squash Organizations

In addition to these domestic efforts, Japan has also been collaborating with international squash organizations to promote the sport and improve its infrastructure. This collaboration has led to the hosting of international squash tournaments in Japan, which has helped to raise the profile of the sport in the country. It has also resulted in the development of training programs and coaching certifications for squash coaches in Japan.

Government Support

The Japanese government has also recognized the importance of promoting squash as a sport in the country. In recent years, the government has provided funding for the construction of new squash courts and the development of squash programs in schools. This support has helped to create a more favorable environment for the growth of squash in Japan.

Overall, these revival efforts have been successful in increasing the popularity of squash in Japan and have provided a foundation for the sport’s continued growth in the country.

Potential for Growth

Despite the decline in popularity of squash in Japan, there is still potential for growth in the sport. Here are some factors that could contribute to a resurgence in interest in squash:

  • Influence of other Asian countries: The success of squash in other Asian countries, such as Korea and China, could inspire a renewed interest in the sport in Japan. These countries have invested in the development of squash infrastructure and have seen significant growth in the number of players and tournaments.
  • Addition of squash to the Olympic Games: The inclusion of squash as an Olympic sport could also help to boost its popularity in Japan. The country has a strong tradition of success in Olympic sports, and adding squash to the program could help to attract new players and fans to the sport.
  • Growing interest in racket sports: There is a growing interest in racket sports in Japan, particularly among young people. Squash could benefit from this trend, as it is a unique and challenging sport that requires a combination of strength, speed, and strategy.
  • Increased focus on health and fitness: There is a growing awareness of the importance of health and fitness in Japan, and squash could benefit from this trend. The sport provides a high-intensity workout that can improve cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility.
  • Development of new technologies: The development of new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, could also help to enhance the experience of playing squash. These technologies could be used to create more engaging and interactive training programs, as well as to improve the accuracy and speed of coaching.

Overall, while the decline in popularity of squash in Japan is a concern, there are still many factors that could contribute to a resurgence in interest in the sport. With the right investments in infrastructure and development, as well as a focus on growing the sport among young people, squash could once again become a beloved sport in Japan.

The Importance of Squash in Japan

Squash as a Global Sport

Squash is a unique sport that has gained popularity around the world due to its accessibility and the physical and mental benefits it provides. As a global sport, squash has the potential to bring people together from different cultures and backgrounds. This cultural exchange can lead to greater understanding and respect between nations, and it can also help to promote peace and unity.

Furthermore, squash is an excellent way to build bridges between different communities. The sport can be played in both developed and developing countries, and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. In fact, squash is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, with over 50,000 courts in more than 100 countries.

The growth of squash in Japan could have a positive impact on international relations and cultural exchange. Japan has a long history of promoting sports as a means of promoting peace and understanding between nations. By embracing squash as a national sport, Japan could continue this tradition and promote the values of fair play, respect, and sportsmanship.

Additionally, the growth of squash in Japan could have economic benefits. Squash is a sport that requires a significant investment in infrastructure, including courts, equipment, and training facilities. This investment could create jobs and stimulate economic growth in local communities. Furthermore, hosting international squash events in Japan could attract tourists and generate revenue for the country.

In conclusion, squash is a global sport that has the potential to bring people together from different cultures and backgrounds. The growth of squash in Japan could have a positive impact on international relations, cultural exchange, and economic development.

Squash as a Source of National Pride

The Role of Squash in Japan’s Sports Culture

Squash has become an increasingly popular sport in Japan, and its development has been a source of national pride. As a relatively new sport in the country, squash has gained a dedicated following and has become an important part of Japan’s sports culture.

The Rise of Squash Champions in Japan

The success of Japanese squash players in international competitions has contributed to the sport’s popularity and national pride. Players like Miki Hashimoto and Akane Yamaguchi have achieved notable success in the Women’s World Squash Championships, earning gold and silver medals respectively. These achievements have inspired a new generation of squash players and helped to build a stronger squash community in Japan.

The Potential for Growth in Squash

The potential for growth in squash is significant, as the sport continues to gain popularity in Japan. With dedicated training facilities and strong support from the Japan Squash Association, there is potential for even more success in international competitions and continued growth in the sport. This growth could help to inspire future generations of players and further strengthen squash’s position as a source of national pride in Japan.


1. What is squash sport?

Squash is a racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court. The players use a small, hollow rubber ball and a racquet to hit the ball back and forth across the court. The goal of the game is to hit the ball in such a way that your opponent cannot return it, or to force your opponent into making an error.

2. Why was squash popular in Japan?

Squash was popular in Japan due to its fast-paced and physical nature, which appealed to many people. The sport also had a strong presence in Japan, with numerous courts and clubs throughout the country. Additionally, squash was a popular sport among both men and women, and it was played at both the amateur and professional levels.

3. What happened to squash in Japan?

It is not entirely clear what happened to squash in Japan. Some reports suggest that the sport has seen a decline in popularity in recent years, while others suggest that it has simply fallen out of the public eye. There are still squash courts and clubs in Japan, but they may not be as numerous or as well-attended as they once were.

4. Is squash still played in Japan?

Yes, squash is still played in Japan. While it may not be as popular as it once was, there are still many people who enjoy playing the sport and there are still courts and clubs where it can be played. Squash is also still played at the professional level, with Japanese players competing in both domestic and international tournaments.

5. Can squash make a comeback in Japan?

It is certainly possible for squash to make a comeback in Japan. The sport has seen ups and downs in popularity throughout its history, and there have been times when it has seemed to be on the brink of extinction. However, dedicated players and enthusiasts have helped to keep the sport alive, and there is always the possibility that it could experience a resurgence in popularity.

The Rise, Fall and Future of Squash

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