Nadeshiko League

Last updated
Nadeshiko League
Nadeshiko League.png
Founded1989;32 years ago (1989), as L.League
Country Japan
Confederation Asian Football Confederation
DivisionsD1: Division 1
D2: Division 2
Number of teams20 (Division 1: 12, Division 2: 8)
Level on pyramid 2–3
Relegation to Regional leagues
Domestic cup(s) Empress's Cup (National cup)
Nadeshiko League Cup
International cup(s) AFC Women's Club Championship
Current champions D1: Urawa Reds Ladies (4th title)
D2: Sfida Setagaya (1st title)
D3: JFA Academy Fukushima (1st title)
(2020 season)
Most championshipsD1: NTV Beleza (14 titles)
D2: ?
D3: ?
Top goalscorerD1: Yuika Sugasawa (17 goals)
D2: Yoshino Nakajima (11 goals)
D3: ? (9 goals)
TV partners YouTube
Website Official website
Current: 2020 Nadeshiko League season

The Japan Women's Football League (Japanese: 日本女子サッカーリーグ, Nihon Joshi Sakkā Rīgu), commonly known as the Nadeshiko League (Japanese: なでしこリーグ, Nadeshiko Rīgu), is a women's association football league in Japan.


The Nadeshiko League consists of three divisions that correspond to the top three levels of the Japanese women's football pyramid respectively: the Nadeshiko League Division 1, the Nadeshiko League Division 2, and the Nadeshiko Challenge League (チャレンジリーグ, Charenji Rīgu). Teams are promoted and relegated among the three divisions, and between the Nadeshiko Challenge League and the fourth-level Japanese regional leagues, based on performance in the previous season.

Since 2008, the Nadeshiko League has been sponsored by Plenus (株式会社プレナス), a fast food (bento) company based in Fukuoka. [1]


Japan Women's Football League began in 1989. From 1993 to 1999 it adopted an Apertura and Clausura system, similar to the J. League system of that era. From 2000 to 2003 the clubs were divided into East and West groups and then the top clubs of each would go into a championship group, with the bottom clubs in a relegation group. In 2004 the single-table format was brought back.

Players from the 8 Japan Women's Football League teams would host an annual training camp to build skills and relationships between the L. League and women's international football clubs, including U.S.- and Australia-based teams.

In 2004 the L.League was renamed to Nadeshiko League, with the nickname "Nadeshiko Japan". Nadeshiko is the name of the dianthus flower and was chosen from suggestions by fans, signifying an ideal of a dutiful Japanese woman. [2] [3]

Starting in the 2004 season, the L. League had 2 divisions – Division 1, with 8 clubs, and Division 2, with 8 clubs in the 2006 season. Until 2009 the league operated in the same way as the old Japan Soccer League for men, the bottom club in the second division playing off against a regional league playoff winner.

Starting with the 2010 season, the second division is divided into an east and west group of six teams each. The winners of each group are promoted. In 2015 this became Division 3, with the Nadeshiko League becoming two divisions of 10 teams each.

After Japan's World Cup win in 2011 the L. League saw an upsurge in popularity. [4]

On 3 June 2020, the Japan Football Association announced that the newly established WE League will become the top level for women's football in Japan when it begins play in 2021. [5] The Nadeshiko League will then become the second to fourth levels of the Japanese women's football pyramid.


Since 2015, the Japan Women's Football League system consists of three levels.

1 Nadeshiko League Division 1

(Plenus Nadeshiko League Division 1)
10 clubs

↓ 1 relegation spot + 1 promotion/relegation series spot

2Nadeshiko League Division 2

(Plenus Nadeshiko League Division 2)
10 clubs

↑ 1 promotion spot + 1 promotion/relegation series spot

↓ 1 relegation spot + 1 promotion/relegation series spot

3Challenge League

(Plenus Challenge League)
12 (EAST 6 / WEST 6) clubs

↑ 1 promotion spot + 1 promotion/relegation series spot

↓ 2 promotion/relegation series spots



Division 1

Bold indicate doubles with the Empress's Cup. [6]

Wins by club

Clubs in bold are those competing in Division 1 as of the 2020 season. Clubs in italic no longer exist.

Nippon TV Beleza [lower-alpha 1]
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Urawa Reds Ladies [lower-alpha 2]
2004, 2009, 2014, 2020
Nikko Securities Dream Ladies
1996, 1997, 1998
INAC Kobe Leonessa
2011, 2012, 2013
Iga FC Kunoichi [lower-alpha 3]
1995, 1999
Shimizu FC Ladies
Matsushita Electric LSC Bambina [lower-alpha 4]
Tasaki Perule FC


  1. Yomiuri Beleza was renamed to Nippon TV Beleza in 1999 and to Tokyo Verdy Beleza in 2011, when the Yomiuri Group sold its stake.
  2. Saitama Reinas were absorbed by Urawa Red Diamonds in 2005.
  3. Prima Ham FC Kunoichi was renamed to Iga FC Kunoichi in 2000.
  4. Matsushita LSC Bambina was renamed to Speranza FC Takatsuki in 2000. Then, renamed to Speranza Osaka-Takatsuki in 2012.
Wins by region
Kantō 24 Nippon TV Beleza (17), Nikko Securities Dream Ladies (3), Urawa Reds Ladies (4)
Kansai 5 INAC Kobe Leonessa (3), Matsushita Electric LSC Bambina (1), Tasaki Perule FC (1)
Tōkai 3 Iga FC Kunoichi (2), Shimizu FC Ladies (1)

Division 2

2004 Okayama Yunogo Belle
2005 INAC Kobe Leonessa
2006 Albirex Niigata Ladies
2007 TEPCO Mareeze
2008 JEF United Chiba Ladies
2009 AS Elfen Sayama FC
2010 Tokiwagi Gakuen HS Speranza FC Takatsuki
2011 Tokiwagi Gakuen HS FC Kibi International University Charme
2012 Vegalta Sendai Ladies
2013 Tokiwagi Gakuen HS
2014 Speranza FC Osaka-Takatsuki
2015 AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies
2016 Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara
2017 Nippon Sport Science University Fields Yokohama
2018 Iga FC Kunoichi

Challenge League

2015 Tokiwagi Gakuen HS
2016 Orca Kamogawa FC
2017 Shizuoka Sangyo University Iwata Bonita

2020 season

The Nadeshiko League Divisions 1 and 2 consist of 10 teams each. The Nadeshiko Challenge League is divided into two groups (East and West) of six teams each.

Division 1

Division 2

Bunny's Kyoto Kyoto. (Kyoto)
Elfen Saitama kawagoe, Saitama
Harima Himeji, (Hyogo)
Jumonji Ventus Niza, Saitama,
Kamogawa Kamogawa
Nittaidai Yokohama
Nagano Parceiro Nagano
Sfida Setagaya Musashino
Yamato Sylphid Yokohama
Yokohama Yokohama

Challenge League

Clubs (East)Hometown(s)
Tokiwagi Gakuen High School LSC Sendai, Miyagi
Norddea Hokkaido Sapporo, Hokkaido
Tsukuba FC Ladies Tsukuba, Ibaraki
Niigata University of Health and Welfare LSC Niigata, Niigata
JFA Academy Fukushima LSC Susono, Shizuoka [8]
Clubs (West)Hometown(s)
Speranza Osaka Takatsuki Takatsuki, Osaka
KIU Charme Takahashi, Okayama
Yunogo Belle Mimasaka, Okayama
Angeviolet Hiroshima Hiroshima
NGU Nagoya F.C. Ladies Nagoya, Aichi

Previous clubs

The following clubs are not competing in the Nadeshiko League during the 2020 season, but have previously competed in the Nadeshiko League for at least one season.

Relegated to regional leagues


Division 1 awards

See also

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  1. "Plenus Co. Ltd. Supports Nadeshiko League". Plenus Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  2. Alisa Freedman, Laura Miller, Christine R. Yano. Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan at Google Books. Stanford University Press, 2013.
  3. Gregory G. Reck, Bruce Allen Dick. American Soccer: History, Culture, Class at Google Books McFarland, 2015.
  4. "Japan unveils professional WE league". AFC . 3 June 2020.
  5. "Japan – List of Women Champions". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  6. "Goals galore on three continents". FIFA. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  7. Due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the team has relocated from Naraha, Fukushima to sport facilities in Shizuoka Prefecture.