Why is Japan’s shirt blue and not red?

Japan’s shirt is one of the most beautiful in the world. In addition, she can be recognized from afar. After all, that blue always catches the eye.

However, where is there blue in the Japanese flag? How was that choice? Did you know that there was a time when the jersey of the Japanese national soccer team was not blue, but red.


Discover the history of Japan’s blue shirt here.

Japan’s shirt is blue in soccer, but not in other sports

Japan’s national soccer team, affectionately called the “Samurai Blue”, has long struggled in blue shirts, true to its nickname. However, national teams in many other sports such as volleyball and softball have adopted red uniforms to represent the color of the rising sun on the Japanese national flag. Why was blue chosen by the national football community?


By the time the Japan Football Association (JFA) was inaugurated in 1921, a varsity football team representing Japan participated in the Far East Championship Games, an international event held regularly in East Asia.

It was in 1930 that the Japanese national team was formed for the first time, selecting players from all over the country. When the team was preparing its uniform, light blue was chosen as the color. There are several approaches to why.

According to the Mainichi Simbun newspaper, one theory says that the color followed the light blue uniform adopted by Tokyo Imperial University, the predecessor of the University of Tokyo, which was producing players that made up the national team. Another story says that Japan opted for blue to represent “the waters that surround the national land”.


Neither of these theories are recorded in the documents available today, and an individual affiliated with the JFA said, “We’re not sure what the exact reason was.”

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Japan’s shirt wasn’t always blue

The Japan team was indeed dressed in red jerseys at one stage under coach Kenzo Yokoyama, who led the team between 1988 and 1991. This color choice was obviously based on the Japanese flag, following in the footsteps of world powers who seized on their national flag colors for their uniforms. But after the Japanese team fared badly, being knocked out in the first Asian preliminary round en route to the 1990 FIFA World Cup held in Italy, the kit color was changed back to blue.

In addition to this story, Japan is said to have chosen blue to avoid confusion with the many other teams in Asia that adopt red jerseys, including South Korea and China.


So this is one way to differentiate yourself. And, let’s face it, nowadays it’s almost impossible to think of the Japanese soccer team without its beautiful blue shirt.

Source: Mainichi.JP.

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