Japan's Olympic Committee (Japanese Olympic Committee) was created in 1911 and was recognized by the International Olympic community the year after, becoming the first Asian team to participate at the Olympics. In that same year, they participated in their very first Olympic Games which were held in Stockholm, Sweden. Mishima Yahiko who competed in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and Kanakuri Shizō who ran the marathon were the first Japanese Olympians.
Although Japan did not win a medal in their debut in the Olympics, they did so the very next Summer Games. In 1920, tennis player Ichiya Kumagae together with fellow-tennis players Seiichiro Kashio and Ichiya Kumagae won the silver in the men's singles and men's doubles respectively making them the first of many Olympic medalists that Japan would produce. The 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympics also marked the beginning of a virtually unbroken winning streak for Japan.
Japan has been in most Summer Olympics missing only the 1948 Summer Games, where they were banned from joining, and the 1980 Games where they participated in the American-led boycott of the Summer Olympics which was held in Moscow, USSR.
Japan even hosted a number of the Olympic Games. In 1964, they hosted the Summer Games in Tokyo which is also the first time they ranked 3rd overall with a total of 93 countries participating. They repeated this feat the very next Summer Games in Mexico. In 1972, they hosted the Winter Games in Sapporo where they were also one of the top teams. In 1998, they again hosted the Winter Olympics in Nagano where they took 5 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze Olympic medals making them the 7th overall that year which was by far the best showing they had in the Winter Games. Japan are the host of the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo.
Japan made their first appearance in the Winter Olympics and missing only the 1980 Winter Games since then.
- Some athletes from Korea competed as part of the Japanese teams during their occupation between 1910-1945.
- Japanese show jumping gold medallist at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, Takeichi Nishi, died in 1945 at the battle of Iwo Jima, where he commanded the 26th Tank Regiment while wearing riding boots and jodphurs and carrying a whip.
- The Japanese winner of the 1936 marathon was Son Kitei (Koean name: Sohn Kee-Chung) was born in Korea though his country was occupied by Japan. He became the first Korean to win an Olympic medal.
- Two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place at the 1936 men's pole vault event, however they refused to participate in a tiebreaker. Instead, they cut their medals in half and they fused them together so they were half silver, half bronze.
- Tokyo was also selected to host the Games in 1940, but several countries planned to boycott the Games there because Japan was waging an aggressive war in Asia and then Japan itself decided the Games would be a distraction to their military goals. The Games were then rescheduled to be held in Helsinki, Finland, but the start of WW2 in 1939 caused the Games to be canceled anyway.
- Japan's Osamu Watanabe won the freestyle featherweight division wrestling gold medal at Tokyo 1964, and did it in style by going through the competition without conceding a point.
- In Beijing 2008, equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu became the oldest Japanese Olympic representative at age 67. Hoketsu also took part in the 1964 Tokyo Games where he finished 40th in the showjumping event. Hoketsu has made the team for the 2012 Olympics too!
- The first female athlete to win four individual gold medals at four consecutive Games was Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho (2004-2016)
- Japan's Tadahiro Nomura is one of the greatest judoka in Olympic history. He was first Olympic competitor from Asia to win three consecutive gold medals in any event, winning three Olympic golds in judo in 1996, 2000 and 2004. His father was the coach of Shinji Hosokawa, the winner of the gold medal at Los Angeles 1984 in the same division, and his uncle Toyokazu Nomura won gold at Munich 1972 in the under 70kg division.
- Siblings Uta Abe and Hifumi Abe from Japan won individual gold medals in judo on the same day at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
- Japan at the Winter Olympics
- List of all countries that have participated at the Olympic Games.
- Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games
- About Sport in Japan