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Illustration: Football in Japan (1874)
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Illustration: Football in Japan (1874)

Illustration of a Football Game in Japan (1874)

Illustration of a Football Game in Japan (1874)

license: public domain
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Frederic Humbert

A black and white illustration shows a group of men playing football. In the center, about 10 men struggle against each other. A few men on the outskirts watch eagerly, waiting for the ball to escape. In the background, Japanese onlookers wearing kimonos and traditional garb watch the match. A tall, snowcapped mountain sits far in the background.


Illustration: 1874

Photo: November 2006


This illustration was published in the May 2nd, 1874 edition of Harper’s Weekly, an American magazine with a focus on local and foreign politics. The image depicts a game of football in Japan. The roughness of the struggle in the center of the image suggests this was a rugby-style match rather than association football (soccer), which had ben codified in England eleven years prior in 1863.

Related Articles

History of Rugby Football | History of Football (American) | History of Soccer | Japanese Kemari


Rowley, C. (2015). The shared origins of football, rugby, and soccer. Rowman & Littlefield.