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Three National High School Basketball Tournaments in Japan that garner close attention

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Unlike in the United States, where sports are played on a seasonal basis, Japanese high school students devote themselves to one sport for all four seasons. High school basketball, which is as popular as the professional league in Japan, thrills viewers with its passion and enthusiasm.

Here in Japan, high school basketball players compete for three national titles:

  1. "The Inter-High School Tournament" in the summer

  2. "The National Athletic Meet" in the fall

  3. "The Winter Cup" in the winter

Each tournament differs from one another, with their own unique characteristics.

"The Inter-High School Tournament"

The National High School Athletic Meet ("Inter-High") is a summer tournament in which teams that have won their respective prefectural qualifying rounds gather to compete for the top spot in the nation.

Many high school seniors retire after the Inter-High qualifying rounds, since only teams and athletes who have made a record of success in this tournament can participate in the other two tournaments in the fall and the winter.


  • Games are very competitive starting with the qualifying rounds, as many high school students risk their retirement.

  • As this is the first national tournament of the year, unexpected teams often win.

  • It is difficult for even the best players to keep in good physical condition to compete in the highly humid summer, and good conditioning becomes the key to victory.

"The National Athletic Meet"

The National Athletic Meet is held in the fall. While the Inter-High School Games and Winter Cup are played by individual high schools, the National Athletic Meet is a competition among prefectures in which the best players from each prefecture are selected to compete against each other. Therefore, the uniforms of the teams are characterized by the names of the prefectures.


  • The attraction of this tournament is the opportunity to see the high level of skill of the selected players from each prefecture.

  • Many players are not able to participate in the inter-high school tournament because they are buried in the ranks, even if they are very talented. If they are selected for the national team, they will have the opportunity to play a significant role.

  • In prefectures where there are many good schools, being selected to participate as an allied team is also something to look forward to.

"The Winter Cup"

The National High School Basketball Championship Tournament ("the Winter Cup") is a tournament-style national tournament held at the end of high school.

Even schools that have achieved good results in the Inter-High School Tournament rarely have all of their third-year students remaining on the team, and many first- and second-year students join the team instead of the core third-year students.

J SPORTS, a BS TV station, will broadcast all the games from the first round for both men and women with live commentary, making this a high-profile tournament.


  • Since this is the last national tournament for high school students for the year, the venue is crowded and there are even spectators standing in the stands.

  • The mature skills of the third-year students, of course, but the hustle and bustle of the up-and-coming first and second-year students, who are expected to be the following year's stars, is well worth seeing.

  • "Inspiration Award" is an award unique to the Winter Cup which is given to a team or an individual who has given courage and inspiration to those watching the games.


Written By Miho Shirai

About Sporta Japan

Established: Aug 2018 Mission: To connect the world through sports and tech

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