Shonan Bellmare

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Shonan Bellmare
Full nameShonan Bellmare
Founded1968; 51 years ago (1968)
GroundShonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka
Hiratsuka, Kanagawa
ChairmanKiyoshi Makabe
ManagerCho Kwi-jea
LeagueJ1 League
WebsiteClub website
Current season

Shonan Bellmare (湘南ベルマーレ, Shōnan Berumāre) is a Japanese professional association football club currently playing in the J1 League. The team is located in Hiratsuka, in the west of Kanagawa Prefecture; their home stadium is Hiratsuka Athletics Stadium. Shonan refers to a coastal area along Sagami Bay that includes Hiratsuka. Bellmare is a portmanteau of the Italian words bello and mare, meaning "beautiful sea".


Early years as corporate team[edit]

The club was founded in 1968 as Towa Real Estate SC in Nasu, Tochigi.[1] They were promoted to the Japan Soccer League (JSL) Division 1 in 1972. They changed their name to Fujita Kogyo S.C. when Towa Estate Development gave up the ownership to their parent company Fujita Kogyo, which moved the club to Hiratsuka.

They won the JSL three times (including two doubles with the Emperor's Cup) between 1977 and 1981. They were nevertheless relegated to the JSL's Division 2 in 1990. Although they won the last JSL Division 2 season in 1991–92, the professionalization and formation of the J.League meant they did not meet the new top flight league's criteria and the runners-up, Kashima Antlers (formerly Sumitomo), were promoted instead.

1993 (JFL)[edit]

In 1993, they adopted new name Shonan Bellmare. Their application to the J.League Associate membership was accepted. They played in the former Japan Football League Division 1 and won the league championship. After Hiratsuka City Council committed to finance the refurbishment of the Hiratsuka Stadium to meet the J.League requirements, J.League accepted the club.

1994–1997 (Golden era)[edit]

Hidetoshi Nakata with the Asian Cup Winners' Cup trophy in 1996
Bellmare Hiratsuka 1994–1999 crest

The club was forced to change their name to Bellmare Hiratsuka because J.League required the participants to designate only one city or town as their hometown and include its name in the club names at that time. The club initially struggled to cope with the J.League opponents and finished 11th out of 12 in the first stage of the 1994 season. However, they came back in the second stage and finished 2nd. With this momentum, the club won the 1994–1995 Emperor's Cup. This title qualified Bellmare for the 1996 Asian Cup Winners' Cup, which they won by beating Iraq's Al Talaba in the final. Hidetoshi Nakata joined the team in 1995 and they also successfully recruited Brazilian-born Wagner Lopes and influential Korean international Hong Myung-bo. This is arguably the most successful period of the club.[2]

1998–1999 (Difficult period)[edit]

Four Bellmare players were selected for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. They were Nakata, Lopes, Hong and a goalkeeper Nobuyuki Kojima. However, as Nakata left for Italian club Perugia just after the World Cup, the club's fortune started to decline. The main sponsor Fujita decided to discontinue the financial support in 1999 due to their own financial difficulties.[3] It forced the club to release some highly paid players including Lopes, Hong and Kojima. They finished bottom of J1 in 1999 and were relegated to J2.

2000–2009 (J2)[edit]

The club made a new start. The ownership was transferred to a community-owned organisation. They also changed their name to Shonan Bellmare as J.League allowed them to enlarge their designated hometowns to include several cities and towns surrounding Hiratsuka.[3] The club's performance on the pitch has not been strong and they have not been serious contenders for the promotion to J1 so far.

A J1 comeback in 2010, if they are able to achieve promotion, will be the first without Fujita as their sponsor. Although for a time they refused to consider their history as the championship-winning Fujita corporate team in their current history, this year they celebrated the club's 40-year anniversary in 2009 as deduced from the badge in their Web site.

On 5 December 2009, Shonan returned to J1 as third-place finishers in 2009 seasons.

2010–current (Return to J1)[edit]

Shonan's return to J1 was a brief one as they struggled at the bottom of the table all season long. Their relegation back to J2 was confirmed with four games to go.

In 2014, after a few years in and out of the top division, Shonan Bellmare dominated J2 during the 2014 campaign. Winning the second division with 101 points, 38 wins, 8 draws, and only 3 losses, they earned promotion back to J.League's first division, J1, for the 2015 season.[4]

For the 2015 J1 season Shonan Bellmare partnered with Japanese energy management company, Eneres, to be the team's new main kit sponsor. During the 2015 season, Shonan Bellmare fared the best out of the three promoted sides from J2. Montedio Yamagata and Matsumoto Yamaga FC (along with J1 regulars Shimizu S-Pulse) were relegated while Shonan stayed up, hanging around the middle of the table for most of the season. They finished the first stage in 10th place, and 9th in the second stage, for an overall finish of 8th in the table. The 2015 season could be considered a success for Bellmare. With 13 wins, 9 draws, and 12 losses on the season, Shonan secured a winning record in the top division from a promoted side.[5]

In September 2018, Shonan entered into a partnership with the Davao Aguilas F.C. of the Philippines Football League.[6]


Historically the Shonan area was part of a pre-modern province, Sagami Province, whereas Yokohama and Kawasaki were part of Musashi Province, hence Bellmare's intraprefectural rivalries with Yokohama F. Marinos, Yokohama FC and Kawasaki Frontale are based on the hard-working port cities of South Musashi as opposed to the more laid-back attitude of Sagami.

Other historical rivals have been Cerezo Osaka, Urawa Red Diamonds and Júbilo Iwata.

Record as J.League member[edit]

Season Div. Tms. Pos. Attendance/G J.League Cup Emperor's Cup Asia
1994 J1 12 5 17,836 1st round Winner
1995 J1 14 11 16,111 2nd round
1996 J1 16 11 10,483 Semi-final Quarter-final CWC Winner
1997 J1 17 8 7,841 Group Stage Quarter-final
1998 J1 18 11 10,158 Group Stage 4th round
1999 J1 16 16 7,388 1st round 3rd round
2000 J2 11 8 4,968 1st round 3rd round
2001 J2 12 8 4,112 1st round 2nd round
2002 J2 12 5 4,551 4th round
2003 J2 12 10 4,731 4th round
2004 J2 12 10 4,691 5th round
2005 J2 12 7 5,746 3rd round
2006 J2 13 11 5,365 4th round
2007 J2 13 6 4,677 4th round
2008 J2 15 5 5,994 3rd round
2009 J2 18 3 7,273 2nd round
2010 J1 18 18 11,095 Group Stage 3rd round
2011 J2 20 14 6,943 Quarter-final
2012 J2 22 2 6,852 3rd round
2013 J1 18 16 9,911 Group Stage 3rd round
2014 J2 22 1 8,478 3rd round
2015 J1 18 8 12,208 Group Stage 3rd round
2016 J1 18 17 11,530 Group Stage Quarter-finals
2017 J2 22 1 8,454 3rd round
2018 J1 18 13 12,120 Winner 4th round - -
  • Tms. = Number of teams
  • Pos. = Position in league
  • Attendance/G = Average league attendance
  • Source: J. League Data Site


Towa / Fujita[edit]

Bellmare Hiratsuka / Shonan Bellmare[edit]

League history[edit]

  • Kanto Football League: 1970–71
  • Division 1 (Japan Soccer League Div. 1): 1972–89 (1972–74 as Towa Real Estate Development; 1975–89 as Fujita Industries)
  • Division 2 (Japan Soccer League Div. 2): 1990–91 (as Fujita Industries)
  • Division 2 (Japan Football League (former) Div. 1): 1992–93 (as Fujita Industries)
  • Division 1 (J.League Div. 1): 1994–99 (as Bellmare Hiratsuka)
  • Division 2 (J.League Div. 2): 2000–09 (as Shonan Bellmare)
  • Division 1 (J.League Div. 1): 2010
  • Division 2 (J.League Div. 2): 2011–12
  • Division 1 (J.League Div. 1): 2013
  • Division 2 (J.League Div. 2): 2014
  • Division 1 (J1 League): 2015–16
  • Division 2 (J2 League): 2017
  • Division 1 (J1 League): 2018–

Total (as of 2017): 28 seasons in the top tier, 18 seasons in the second tier and 2 seasons in the Regional Leagues.


Current squad[edit]

As of 24 July 2019.[7]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Japan GK Yota Akimoto
2 Japan MF Shunsuke Kikuchi
3 Brazil DF Freire
4 Japan DF Keisuke Saka
5 Japan DF Daiki Sugioka
6 Japan DF Takuya Okamoto
7 Japan MF Tsukasa Umesaki
8 Japan DF Kazunari Ono
9 Japan FW Hiroshi Ibusuki
10 Japan MF Naoki Yamada (on loan from Urawa Red Diamonds)
11 Japan FW Ryogo Yamasaki
13 Japan MF Miki Yamane
14 Japan MF Hiroto Nakagawa (on loan from Kashiwa Reysol)
15 Japan FW Ryunosuke Noda
16 Japan MF Mitsuki Saito
18 Japan MF Temma Matsuda
19 Japan MF Daiki Kaneko
20 Brazil FW Crislan
21 Japan GK Daiki Tomii
No. Position Player
23 Japan DF Masahito Onoda (on loan from FC Imabari)
24 Japan FW Yuki Ohashi
25 Japan GK Shuhei Matsubara
26 Japan FW Kazuki Yamaguchi
28 Japan MF Toichi Suzuki
29 Japan DF Hayato Fukushima
30 Japan MF Sosuke Shibata
31 Japan GK Kota Sanada
32 Japan MF Hikaru Arai
33 Japan FW Yamato Wakatsuki (Type 2 player)
34 Brazil DF Dumas
35 Japan MF Satoshi Tanaka (Type 2 player)
36 Turkey FW Ömer Tokaç
37 Japan DF Koki Tachi (designated special player)
39 Japan MF Kosuke Taketomi (on loan from Urawa Red Diamonds)
40 Japan MF Ko Sawada
44 Japan DF Shunya Mori
50 Japan DF Shota Kobayashi

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Japan GK Masaaki Goto (to Zweigen Kanazawa)
South Korea GK Kim Min-jun (to Fukushima United FC)
Japan DF Hirokazu Ishihara (to Avispa Fukuoka)
Brazil MF Lelêu (to Mito Hollyhock)
Japan MF Hiroki Akino (to V-Varen Nagasaki)
No. Position Player
Japan MF Yuta Kamiya (to Ehime FC)
Japan FW Jin Hanato (to Tokyo Verdy)
Japan FW Hibiki Wada (to ReinMeer Aomori FC)
Japan FW Kunitomo Suzuki (to Gainare Tottori)


In popular culture[edit]

In the Captain Tsubasa manga series, one character was player of Shonan Bellmare. The midfielder Jun Misugi, which also was player of FC Tokyo.


  1. ^ Osumi, Yoshiyuki (1995). Yume no ishizue. Astro publishing. ISBN 4755508576.
  2. ^ "11年ぶりのJ1昇格を果たした湘南ベルマーレ 前例のない道を切り開く地域密着の挑戦に迫る" (in Japanese). Shonan Keizai Shimbun. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Bellmare boss' passion giving back to community". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Shonan Bellmare has shot J1 next season". ONE World Sports. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  5. ^ "2015MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE". J.League. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  6. ^ Biantan, Jack (16 September 2018). "Davao Aguilas, Shonan Bellmare Merge To Boast Football Development". Pinoy Football. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  7. ^ "2019シーズン トップチーム新体制のお知らせ(1月10日時点) «  湘南ベルマーレ公式サイト".

External links[edit]