Five sport headlines you may have missed from the New Year’s break:
- J. League champion Kawasaki Frontale — known for years as Japanese soccer’s “silver collector” for their string of second-place finishes — lifted their fifth major trophy in four years Friday, defeating Gamba Osaka to claim their first-ever Emperor’s Cup and round out their domestic double, writes Dan Orlowitz.
- Komazawa University showcased a historic comeback win as junior runner Takuma Ishikawa overtook then-leader Soka University with only two kilometers left in the final leg to capture its first Hakone ekiden championship since 2008 on Sunday, writes Kaz Nagatsuka.
- Japan’s badminton association says it will skip the Thailand Open after world No. 1 Kento Momota tested positive for COVID-19 at Narita airport ahead of the team’s departure for Bangkok. The world No. 1 was looking to make his international comeback after almost a year out following a serious car crash.
- Yu Darvish is excited to compete for titles with the San Diego Padres following his move in a seven-player blockbuster trade from the Chicago Cubs, the 34-year-old pitcher said Thursday. Darvish expressed shock at the suddenness of his departure, but said he was pleased to land with the Padres. “My son was crying a lot at having to leave Chicago, but I probably cried 100 times more than him,” he said.
- The Hanshin Tigers, one of Japan’s longest-established pro baseball franchises, is expanding its reach into the community by forming a women’s baseball team this offseason. Former Tiger Yuya Nohara will serve as manager of the “Hanshin Tigers Women” in the team’s inaugural 2021 season, which starts with preseason training in February and competitive games after April.