American Football was first introduced to Japan in the 1930s, although it was not until after WWII, that it was played competitvely, with the Rice Bowl, Japan’s version of the Super Bowl, being played between the Universities since 1947, and since 1984 between the University Champions and the Social Champions (Business League – currently X-League).
There is also a third League in Japan, which is the Private Club League, opening up American Football to non-students and non-Corporate Workers. The JPFF (Japan Private Football Association) organises the Ocean Bowl between the JPFF East and JPFF West Champions. It is included in Social Championships.
Friendship Bowl; Rice Bowl
Japan Rice Bowl (Universities v Social Champions):
Picture Credit: D. Young / Shutterstock (2010) DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – APRIL 24: The 1st German Japan Bowl. The action that lead to Japans last touch-down gathers momentum. On April 24, 2010 in Dusseldorf, Germany [Accessed 4 May 2021]
Japan American Football Association Social Championships
The Japan X-League is the highest level of American Football in Japan. From 1984 to 2020 the X-League Champions played for the Rice Bowl with the University Champions. since 2021 the Rice Bowl is in sole ownership of the X-League after 11 X-League victories in a row. The X-League is divided into X1 Super (Premier League), X1 Area (3 Regional League – Championship) and then below that X2 and X3 Leagues.
The JPFF (Japan Private Football Association) is the National or State Level League, with Leagues run on an East – West basis.
Japan American Football Association University Championships
The Universities played for the Rice Bowl from 1947 when the introduction of American Football to Japan took hold to 1979.
From 1980 to 2020 the University Champions contested the Rice Bowl with the Social Champions (now the X-League) and from 2021 onwards the University Champions no longer compete for the Rice Bowl.
The University Championship Game is called the Koshien Bowl, with Regional Bowl Games as a Qualifier.