|Number of Teams||J1 League (18) J2 League (22) J3 League (18)|
|Most Championships||Kashima Antlers (8)|
|Most Appearances||Urawa Red Diamonds (54)|
|Link to Official Site||http://www.jleague.jp|
The J-League is a Japanese professional men’s football competition. It has three tiers, but it’s the J1 League that attracts the most attention. It is contested by the 18 best clubs in the country. A single season has 34 rounds, and teams play each other twice. The winner takes the championship trophy, and the last-placed club gets relegated to the J2 League.
The best two teams in the J1 League qualify for the AFC Champions League. The third-best team enter the playoff qualification round. There’s a promotion/relegation playoff after the regular season ends. It includes 10th and 11th from the J1 League and the second and third-best teams in J2 League.
Amateur clubs played in the Japan Soccer League before 1992. The J-League officially started in 1993, and 10 clubs participated in its first edition. The first match was played in Tokyo between Verdy Kawasaki and Yokohama Marinos.
After several successful seasons, the attendance started dropping. The J-League changed its format to a two-division split. The 1999 J1 League started with 16 clubs. The league had two separate parts, and the champions of each played the final playoff series to determine the overall winner.
The J-League expanded to 18 clubs in 2005. The league kept that format until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The officials decided that no club would leave the league, so J1 was expanded to 20 teams. Four teams were relegated last season, and the 2022 J1 League will have 18 members again.
Kawasaki Frontale won four out of the last five J1 League editions. Despite this excellent run, they aren’t the club with the most titles in the highest tier of Japanese football. Kashima Antlers have eight championships, with their last title won in 2016.
Here are some interesting facts about J-League clubs:
Yasuhito Endō has played the most number of games in the J League (641). He’s still active, so this number could increase soon!
Here are some other notable statistics: