Reigning champion Kashiwa Reysol will face Yokohama F. Marinos at home on the opening weekend of the 2012 season as the J. League released the fixtures for the upcoming campaign on Tuesday.
Kashiwa, which became the first team in J. League history to win the championship a year after winning the second division, is involved in Asian Champions League action away to Thailand’s Buriram Pea on March 7 and will play Yokohama in the only J. League fixture of the day on March 11.
Vegalta Sendai play Kashima Antlers on March 10 at Yurtec Stadium in what is set to be an emotional meeting on the eve of the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The quake and subsequent tsunami ravaged Japan’s northeast coastline and inflicted serious damage on the stadiums of both teams.
The rest of the first-division matches will also be played on March 10, with promoted Sagan Tosu to face Cerezo Osaka and top-flight returnees FC Tokyo and Consadole Sapporo away to Omiya Ardija and at home to Jubilo Iwata, respectively.
The J1 season wraps up on Dec. 1, while the 22-team second tier kicks off March 4 and runs through Nov. 11.