Research has shown that sporting cultures can reflect and epitomize cultural traits and national characteristics. In this way sports have played a vital role in illustrating the significance of the relationship between the sporting culture itself and the broader culture of which it is a part. Previous research on Japanese society and sporting culture has recognised some important, shared concepts including seishin (spirituality), wa (group harmony), rituals, masculinity, and hierarchy. These are identified in typical Japanese training regimes and philosophies and are often characterized as conservative, feudal, spiritualistic, and subservient. These characteristics are perceived to be a reflection of the Japanese dominant social construction, common to behavioural
patterns of its people, and an integral part of Japanese social life. Japanese sport, however, is not isolated from larger social forces. One facet of our increasingly globalizing world is the migration of sporting talents, practices, and ideas beyond local, regional, and national boundaries. Sporting organizations in Japan have increasingly employed foreign athletes and coaches during the last two decades. The intersection of globalization and Japanese sporting culture is a key dimension of this study.
While previous studies on sports in Japan have extensively examined the role of sports in the educational context and in the culture of professional team settings, corporate-sponsored teams have not been thoroughly
investigated. Another limiting dimension to previous research is that it has almost exclusively focused on male sport, Japanese women's sports have been largely neglected. Consequently, the main aims of this thesis were to:
• contribute to a greater understanding of cultural aspects of men's and women's participation in corporate-sponsored sports in Japan
• produce a deeper understanding of emerging phenomena in Japanese sporting arena in relation to the impact of globalization
• build on previous knowledge and add new assessments of the defining aspects of sport and sporting culture in contemporary Japan
To achieve these aims, it was considered that views and experiences of international athletes and coaches in Japanese teams, who were outsiders to the dominant culture (i.e., non-Japanese), would be useful in
identifying the distinctiveness of Japanese sporting culture which may not be captured by the perspectives of domestic players. This project adopted a qualitative methodology in which face-to-face, semi-structured individual/group interviews was the main data collection method. This method enabled the researcher to examine how participants' experiences were created and given meaning. The cohort of participants consisted of twelve athletes (10 males and two females) and three coaches (two males and one female) from four countries (Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, and USA). Their specialized sports were rugby, softball, athletics, American football, and basketball, and all sports people participated in corporate-sponsored teams.
According to the interviewees, previously identified traditional elements of Japanese sporting culture are still evident in current teams regardless of the type of sport. Existing traditional aspects are highlighted in, for example, a commitment to lengthy and high quantity training which aims at spiritual strengthening, an emphasis on teamwork over individualism, and unvaried and regimented training styles. In these ways, both men's and women's Japanese sporting culture is closely related to the broader culture of Japan and therefore recognized as emblematic of Japanese society. These traditional aspects notwithstanding, the findings also reveal some changes in Japanese sporting culture. These changes, such as a shift from quantity-focused to quality-focused training, are perceived to be a result of the multidirectional movement of
sporting personnel, practices, and ideas. This study concludes that the processes of globalization are having a significant effect on Japanese sporting culture.