Emperor's Cup

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Emperor's Cup
Emperor's Cup football.png
Founded 1921; 96 years ago (1921)
Region Japan
Number of teams 88
Domestic cup(s) Japanese Super Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
Current champions Kashima Antlers
(5th title)
Most successful club(s) Keio University (9 titles)
Television broadcasters NHK
Website JFA
2017 Emperor's Cup
Emperor's Cup
Urawa Red Diamonds vs. Gamba Osaka 1 January 2007

The Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament (天皇杯全日本サッカー選手権大会, Tennōhai Zen Nippon Sakkā Senshuken Taikai), commonly known as The Emperor's Cup (天皇杯, Tennōhai) or The Emperor's Cup Soccer (サッカー天皇杯, Sakkā Tennōhai), is a Japanese association football competition. It has the longest tradition of any football tournament in Japan, dating back to 1921, before the formation of the J. League, Japan Football League and their predecessor, Japan Soccer League. Before World War II, teams could qualify not only from Japan proper but also from Korea, Taiwan, and sometimes Manchukuo. The women's counterpart is the Empress's Cup.


As it is a competition to decide the "best football team in Japan," the cup is now open to every member club of the Japan Football Association, from J1 and J2 (J. League Divisions 1 and 2) down to teams from J3 (J3 League), JFL, regional leagues, and top college and high school teams from around the country. The Emperor's Cup is one of two well-known national football tournaments named after a monarch (the other is Spain's Copa del Rey).

The holder can wear a Yatagarasu emblem (the ordinary winner wears one, the E letter and the purple line above the bird, the league-cup double winner can wear the gold star and line above the Yatagarasu) and obtains an AFC Champions League spot for the next season.

Since the creation of the J. League in 1992, the professional teams have dominated the competition, although doubles, once common in the JSL, have become very rare. However, because the Emperor's Cup is contested in a knockout tournament format, the opportunity for "giant-killers" from the amateur ranks upsetting a top J. League squad is a very real possibility. Foe example, a major upset almost occurred in the 2003/04 competition, when Funabashi Municipal High School took the 2003 J. League champion Yokohama F. Marinos to a penalty shootout.[1]. Although, Waseda University was the last non-league winner in year 1966, and the previous non-top tier winner is in year 2011 (contested by two second tier teams, FC Tokyo and Kyoto Sanga, with FC Tokyo winning 4–2)

Since 1969, the Emperor's Cup final had been played on New Year's Day of the following year at the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and is regarded as the traditional closing match of the season. Since 2014, the venue was rotating due to the National Olympic Stadium's renovation for 2020 Summer Olympics. Also, the 2014 edition was the only running that finals was not held on New Year's Day, but December 13 on the same year, due to the Japanese National Team's involvement in 2015 AFC Asian Cup.


The knockout phase of the competition begins towards the end of the year. This phase is composed of all teams from J.League Division 1(J1) and Division 2(J2), the winners from each of the 47 prefectural championships (consists of amateur team ranging from J.League Division 3 to college teams), and 1 organizer-nominated team among all amateur teams(was assigned to the collegiate champion until 2011).

J1 teams, and sometimes J2 team(s) also receive bye(s) in the knockout phase. In 2016, all J1 teams and the previous year's J2 champions received a bye, and AFC Champions League participants received 3 byes. In 2017, all J1 and J2 teams received a bye. However, they lose home advantage starting from the third-round, unless they are facing a higher-tier or higher ranked team.

From 1965 to 1970, the top 4 JSL clubs at the end of the season qualified for the Cup and the other four spaces allotted were taken by finalists from universities. From 1971 to 1994, as the League increased in size, the entire top division teams were entered automatically, while the second tier's member clubs participated in regional stages with other clubs. Beginning in 1995, the second tier clubs (at the time, the old Japan Football League) began to be admitted automatically instead of having to play regional stages, which in turn became prefectural stages.

Before 2008, 48 teams took part in the first two rounds – the winner from each of the 47 prefectural championships and the collegiate champion. The top team in the JFL standings and all thirteen J2 teams joined in the 3rd round. Finally, the eighteen J1 teams joined in the 4th round, making a total of 80 participating teams.

The Trophy[edit]

The original All Japan Championship Tournament trophy was awarded to the JFA by the English Football Association in 1917. This trophy was used until January 1945, when the militarist government confiscated it and melted down to procure additional metal for the war effort.[citation needed] When the tournament was reinstated, the present trophy, showing the Imperial chrysanthemum seal began to be awarded.[citation needed]

In August 2011, the English FA presented its Japanese counterpart with a replica of the original trophy, made by London silversmiths Thomas Lyte.[2] JFA President Junji Ogura expressed hope that the trophy, to be awarded at the 2011 finals, would be "a symbol of peace".[3][4]

Qualification to AFC Champions League[edit]

The cup winner is qualified to AFC Champions League (ACL) since 2001 tournament, where Shimizu S-Pulse qualified to ACL 2002-03. Before the establishment of ACL, the cup winner was to qualified to Asian Cup Winners Cup. From 2012, as a part of the requirement of AFC, the champion team must also hold a J1 Club License in order to enter the ACL (but not necessary to be a Division 1 team).

Since the origin of ACL (2002–03) to ACL 2008, the cup winner is to participate the ACL that begins one year later: for example, the Emperor's Cup winner for the 2005 season, crowned on 1 January 2006, participates in the 2007 tournament.

In November 2007, the JFA announced that the ACL 2009 spot would be given to the 2008 season's winner (crowned on January 1, 2009), not to the 2007 winner. As a result, the 2007 winner, Kashima Antlers, cannot earn the ACL 2009 spot by the championship. (However, Antlers earned the ACL 2009 spot by 2008 J. League Division 1 result.)

If the cup winner was already earned an AFC Champions League spot through finishing above third in J. League Division 1. The spot obtained in the cup will be given to Division 1's fourth placed team.

Past Emperor's Cup Champions[edit]

Teams in bold indicate doubles with the league title after 1965. Teams in italics indicate non-top flight clubs after 1965.

Year Champions Score Runners-Up Finals Venue Entrants
1921 Tokyo Shukyu-dan 1–0 Mikage Shukyu-dan (Kobe) Hibiya Park 4
1922 Nagoya Shukyu-dan 1–0 Hiroshima Koto-shihan Toshima-shihan Ground 4
1923 Astra Club (Tokyo) 2–1 Nagoya Shukyu-dan Tokyo Koto-shihan Ground 4
1924 Rijo Shukyu Football Club (Hiroshima) 1–0 All Mikage Shihan Club (Kobe) Meiji-Jingu Stadium 4
1925 Rijo Shukyu Football Club (Hiroshima) 3–0 Imperial University of Tokyo Meiji-Jingu Stadium 6
1926 Cancelled due to death of Emperor Taishō
1927 Kobe-Ichi Junior High School Club 2–0 Rijo Shukyu Football Club (Hiroshima) Meiji-Jingu Stadium 8
1928 Waseda University WMW 6–1 Imperial University of Kyoto Meiji-Jingu Stadium 7
1929 Kwangaku Club 3–0 Hosei University Meiji-Jingu Stadium 8
1930 Kwangaku Club 3–0 Keio BRB Koshien-minami Ground 4
1931 Imperial Univ. of Tokyo LB 3–0 Kobun Jr. Highschool (Taiwan) Meiji-Jingu Stadium 7
1932 Keio Club 5–1 Yoshino Club (Aichi) Koshien-minami Ground 3
1933 Tokyo Old Boys Club 4–1 Sendai Soccer Club Meiji-Jingu Stadium 8
1934 Cancelled due to Far Eastern Championship Games in Manila
1935 Kyungsung FC 6–1 Tokyo Bunri University Meiji-Jingu Stadium 6
1936 Keio BRB 3–2 Bosung College (Seoul) Army Toyama Ground 5
1937 Keio University 3–0 Kobe University of Commerce Meiji-Jingu Stadium 4
1938 Waseda University 4–1 Keio University Meiji-Jingu Stadium 5
1939 Keio BRB 3–2 Waseda University Meiji-Jingu Stadium 8
1940 Keio BRB 1–0 Waseda University WMW Meiji-Jingu Stadium 8
1941 ~ 45 Suspended for World War II
1946 University of Tokyo LB 3–2 Kobe University of Economics Tokyo Imperial Univ. Gotenshita Stadium 12
1947 ~ 48 Cancelled due to post-World War II unrest
1949 University of Tokyo LB 3–2 Kwangaku Club Waseda Univ. Higashifushimi Ground 5
1950 All Kwangaku 6–1 Keio University Kariya City Stadium 16
1951 Keio BRB 3–2 Osaka Club Miyagino Soccer Stadium (Sendai) 14
1952 All Keio 6–2 Osaka Club Fujieda Higashi High School 16
1953 All Kwangaku 5–4 (ET) Osaka Club Nishikyogoku Stadium 16
1954 Keio BRB 5–3 Toyo Industries Yamanashi Prefectural Stadium (Kofu) 16
1955 All Kwangaku 4–2 Chuo University Club Nishinomiya Stadium 16
1956 Keio BRB 4–2 Yawata Steel Omiya Athletic Stadium 16
1957 Chuo University Club 1–0 Toyo Industries Kokutaiji High School (Hiroshima) 16
1958 Kwangaku Club 1–0 Yawata Steel Fujieda Higashi High School 16
1959 Kwangaku Club 1–0 Chuo University Koishikawa Soccer Stadium 16
1960 Furukawa Electric 4–0 Keio BRB Osaka Utsubo Soccer Stadium 16
1961 Furukawa Electric 3–2 Chuo University Fujieda Higashi High School 16
1962 Chuo University 2–1 Furukawa Electric Kyoto Nishikyogoku Stadium 16
1963 Waseda University 2–1 Hitachi Ltd. Kobe Oji Stadium 7
1964 Yawata Steel & Furukawa Electric 0–0 (ET) none (shared title) Kobe Oji Stadium 10
1965 Toyo Industries 3–2 Yawata Steel Tokyo Komazawa Stadium 8
1966 Waseda University 3–2 (ET) Toyo Industries Tokyo Komazawa Stadium 8
1967 Toyo Industries 1–0 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Tokyo National Stadium 8
1968 Yanmar Diesel 1–0 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Tokyo National Stadium 8
1969 Toyo Industries 4–1 Rikkyo University Tokyo National Stadium 8
1970 Yanmar Diesel 2–1 (ET) Toyo Industries Tokyo National Stadium 8
1971 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 3–1 Yanmar Diesel Tokyo National Stadium 8
1972 Hitachi Ltd. 2–1 Yanmar Diesel Tokyo National Stadium 75
1973 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 2–1 Hitachi Ltd. Tokyo National Stadium 807
1974 Yanmar Diesel 2–1 Eidai Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,105
1975 Hitachi Ltd. 2–0 Fujita Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,298
1976 Furukawa Electric 4–1 Yanmar Diesel Tokyo National Stadium 1,358
1977 Fujita Industries 4–1 Yanmar Diesel Tokyo National Stadium 1,421
1978 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 1–0 Toyo Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,481
1979 Fujita Industries 2–1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,494
1980 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 1–0 Tanabe Pharmaceutical Tokyo National Stadium 1,474
1981 NKK 2–0 Yomiuri FC Tokyo National Stadium 1,569
1982 Yamaha Motor Company 0–0 (1–0) Fujita Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,567
1983 Nissan Motor Company 2–0 Yanmar Diesel Tokyo National Stadium 1,565
1984 Yomiuri FC 2–0 Furukawa Electric Tokyo National Stadium 1,476
1985 Nissan Motor Company 2–0 Fujita Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,498
1986 Yomiuri FC 2–1 NKK Tokyo National Stadium 1,612
1987 Yomiuri FC 2–0 Mazda Soccer Club Tokyo National Stadium 1,690
1988 Nissan Motor Company 3–2 (ET) Fujita Industries Tokyo National Stadium 1,786
1989 Nissan Motor Company 3–2 Yamaha Motor Company Tokyo National Stadium 1,737
1990 Matsushita Electric Industrial 0–0
(PSO 4–3)
Nissan Motor Company Tokyo National Stadium 1,776
1991 Nissan Motor Company 4–2 (ET) Yomiuri FC Tokyo National Stadium 1,872
1992 Yokohama Marinos 2–1 (ET) Verdy Kawasaki Tokyo National Stadium 2,452
1993 Yokohama Flügels 6–2 (ET) Kashima Antlers Tokyo National Stadium 2,511
1994 Bellmare Hiratsuka 2–0 Cerezo Osaka Tokyo National Stadium 2,792
1995 Nagoya Grampus Eight 3–0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Tokyo National Stadium 2,800
1996 Verdy Kawasaki 3–0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Tokyo National Stadium (unknown)
1997 Kashima Antlers 3–0 Yokohama Flügels Tokyo National Stadium 6,107
1998 Yokohama Flügels 2–1 Shimizu S-Pulse Tokyo National Stadium 6,317
1999 Nagoya Grampus Eight 2–0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Tokyo National Stadium 6,516
2000 Kashima Antlers 3–2 (ET) Shimizu S-Pulse Tokyo National Stadium 6,578
2001 Shimizu S-Pulse 3–2 Cerezo Osaka Tokyo National Stadium 6,306
2002 Kyoto Purple Sanga 2–1 Kashima Antlers Tokyo National Stadium 6,418
2003 Júbilo Iwata 1–0 Cerezo Osaka Tokyo National Stadium 6,849
2004 Tokyo Verdy 1969 2–1 Júbilo Iwata Tokyo National Stadium 6,685
2005 Urawa Red Diamonds 2–1 Shimizu S-Pulse Tokyo National Stadium 5,918
2006 Urawa Red Diamonds 1–0 Gamba Osaka Tokyo National Stadium 6,390
2007 Kashima Antlers 2–0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Tokyo National Stadium 6,161
2008 Gamba Osaka 1–0 (ET) Kashiwa Reysol Tokyo National Stadium 5,948
2009 Gamba Osaka 4–1 Nagoya Grampus Tokyo National Stadium (unknown)
2010 Kashima Antlers 2–1 Shimizu S-Pulse Tokyo National Stadium (unknown)
2011 F.C. Tokyo 4–2 Kyoto Sanga F.C. Tokyo National Stadium (unknown)
2012 Kashiwa Reysol 1–0 Gamba Osaka Tokyo National Stadium 4,927[5]
2013 Yokohama F. Marinos 2–0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Tokyo National Stadium (unknown)
2014 Gamba Osaka 3–1 Montedio Yamagata International Stadium Yokohama (unknown)
2015 Gamba Osaka 2–1 Urawa Red Diamonds Ajinomoto Stadium (unknown)
2016 Kashima Antlers 2–1 (ET) Kawasaki Frontale Suita City Football Stadium (unknown)
2017 TO BE DECIDED DEC 23, 2017 X–X TO BE DECIDED DEC 23, 2017 Saitama Stadium 2002 (unknown)

Top performing clubs[edit]

Club Champions Runners-Up
Keio University 9 4
Kwansei Gakuin University 7 1
Yokohama F. Marinos 7 1
Urawa Red Diamonds 6 4
Tokyo Verdy 5 3
Gamba Osaka 5 2
Kashima Antlers 5 2
JEF United Ichihara Chiba 4 2
Waseda University 4 2
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3 11
Cerezo Osaka 3 8
Shonan Bellmare 3 4
Kashiwa Reysol 3 3
University of Tokyo 3 1
Chuo University 2 3
Júbilo Iwata 2 2
Nagoya Grampus 2 1
Yokohama Flugels 2 1
Rijo Shukyu Football Club 2 1
Shimizu S-Pulse 1 4
Yawata Steel 1 3
Kyoto Sanga F.C. 1 1
NKK F.C. 1 1
Nagoya Shukyu-dan 1 1
F.C. Tokyo 1 0
Astra Club (Tokyo) 1 0
Kobe-Ichi Junior High School Club 1 0
Kyungsung FC 1 0
Tokyo Shukyu-dan 1 0
Tokyo Old Boys Club 1 0
Osaka Club 0 3
Kobe University 0 2
Mikage Shukudan 0 2
Eidai Industries 0 1
Hiroshima University 0 1
Hosei University 0 1
Kobun Jr. Highschool 0 1
Korea University 0 1
Kyoto University 0 1
Rikkyo University 0 1
Sendai Soccer Club 0 1
Tanabe Pharmaceuticals 0 1
Tokyo Bunri University 0 1
Tsukuba University 0 1
Yoshino Club 0 1
Montedio Yamagata 0 1
Kawasaki Frontale 0 1

Other Emperor's Cups[edit]

Sumo Emperor's Cup

The Emperor's Cup term is used for many national championships in other sports. Like the football prize, most of them are knockout tournaments, except for professional sumo where the trophy is awarded for winning a round-robin Grand Sumo Tournament.


External links[edit]