Kyoto is a professional sports desert.
There is apparently a women's baseball team. And then there is the Kyoto Hannaries (which is local dialect for "elegant," "restrained" - to be honest, most of the people we asked under the age of 40 were not sure of the exact nuance of the word). The fighting Hannaries are a basketball team that plays in the BJ league in Japan.
Both of the above teams are niche, and have few fans and little presence in the city.
The one "major" team in town is Sanga, Kyoto's professional soccer club. They are currently in the second division of the J.League (teams can be demoted from J1 down to J2, and conversely can be promoted up to J1 from J2, depending upon the standings at the end of the season).
Last year was crushing.
In the second-to-last match of the 2012 season, Sanga, which was strong all season, had to do was win away at Kita Kyushu - a real patsy of a team - to clinch a spot in J1. They lost.
The result was that the team finished in fourth place, one point behind the third place team. The top three teams are eligible for promotion. And thus we are back in J2, watching small-market clubs.
Sanga, which is sponsored buy the likes of Kyocera, Wacoal, Nintendo, and many of the city's world-beating corporations, should be in J1.
Over the weekend, in the third match of the 2013 campaign, Sanga won! They defeated Fukuoka, having had tied the first two matches against strong teams that will be vying for promotion: Gamba Osaka and Tokyo Verdy.
We are praying to the Soccer Gods at our local temple for the team.
Sanga plays its home matches at Nishi Kyogoku, which is a multi-use complex next to the Katsura River. The stadium is a bit grim - and the seats far from the field - but the atmosphere is good, safe, and family-friendly. It is about 20 minutes from central Kyoto, and parking is available in front of the stadium.
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Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese