Players from all 20 J-League first-division soccer clubs gathered at a promotional event in Tokyo on Monday, four days before the season begins.

The number of J1 clubs has increased from last season's 18. A total of 13 first- and second-division matches are scheduled at the 68,000-seat National Stadium for the 2024 season, up from eight in 2023.

"We want more people to experience the J. League," the league's chairman, Yoshikazu Nonomura, said during the event as he explained the main reason for having more games at the iconic stadium.

"Last year, we had the 30th anniversary of the league's opening. This season is important as we head toward the next 30 years," he said.

The season opens Friday with two matches, one between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Urawa Reds and another that sees Nagoya Grampus play against Kashima Antlers.

Defending champions Vissel Kobe will visit Jubilo Iwata in one of Saturday's six fixtures before Sunday's two games wrap up the opening weekend.

"Last year, my team had a strong start and kept the momentum on our way to the title," Kobe defender Tetsushi Yamakawa said. "The season opener is important. We'll try our best to win it."