Japan - Guide to Club Names

Albirex Niigata. 
Location: Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture. 
Initially the club was called Albireo, after the star in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan). 
White Swan is the official club symbol. In 1997 due to copyright issues, the team name was 
changed to the current Albirex, combining Albireo with the Latin word “rex” (=king).  

Avispa Fukuoka. 
Location: Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture. 
Avispa means “wasp” in Spanish. This name symbolizes the desired team style, as the disciplined 
massive attack. 

Blaublitz Akita. 
Location: Nikaho City, Akita Prefecture. 
Blau and blitz mean “blue” and “lightning” in German respectively.

Cerezo Osaka. 
Location: Osaka City. 
Cerezo means “cherry tree” (sakura) in Spanish, which is also the flower of Osaka city.

Consadole Sapporo. 
Location: Sapporo City, Hokkaido. 
Consadole is made from “consado” as reverse of Japanese word Dosanko 
(= people of Hokkaido) and the Spanish cheering expression “Ole!”.

Fagiano Okayama. 
Location: Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture. 
Fagiano in Italian means "pheasant", and it is a reference to the pheasant that was a companion 
of local legend character Momotaro.

Gainare Tottori. 
Location: Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture. 
Gainare derives from the Tottori dialect word “gaina” (=great) and Italian “sperare” (=to hope).

Gamba Osaka. 
Location: Suita City, Osaka Prefecture. 
The team's name comes from the Italian word “gamba” (=leg) and the Japanese “gambaru” (=”to do 
somebody’s best” or “to stand firm”). 

Giravanz Kitakyushu. 
Location: Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture. 
The name is coined from two Italian words: “Girasole” (=sunflower), and “Avanzare” (=moving 
forward). (The sunflower is one of Kitakyushu's symbol flowers.)

JEF United Ichihara Chiba. 
Location: Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture. 
The club name, JEF (taken from Japan Railway East and Furukawa Electric) and United, represents 
the unity of the team and its home town.

Júbilo Iwata. 
Location: Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture. 
Júbilo means “joy” in Portuguese and Spanish. 

Kamatamare Sanuki. 
Location: Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. 
The first part of the name was coined by combining the Japanese word Kamatama (a type of “udon” 
noodle bowl) and the Italian Mare (=Sea). The second part is what Kagawa Prefecture used to be 

Kashima Antlers. 
Location: Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture. 
Antlers is derived from the city name, Kashima, which literally means “deer island”.

Kashiwa Reysol. 
Location: Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture. 
The name consists of the Spanish words “rey” (=king) and “sol” (=sun). It combines the king’s 
intensity and severity, and the friendliness and kindness of the sun. 

Kataller Toyama. 
Location: Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture. 
The word “kataller” (pronounced [katare:] by the Japanese) is a combination of the phrase “katare” 
which in Toyama dialect means “to win”, and the French aller (=to go). The phrase is also intended 
to be a pun of Italian “cantare” (=to sing), and of native Japanese “katare” (=to talk) (written 
with a different kanji character).

Kawasaki Frontale. 
Location: Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. 
Frontale means “frontal,” or “front” in Italian. The word expresses the frontier spirit of the team 
that strives always to stay fairly and squarely at the forefront.

Kyoto Sanga. 
Location: Kyoto City. 
The word “Sanga” is a Sanskrit term meaning “group” or “club”, often used to denote Buddhist 
congregations. This reflects Kyoto's tradition of Buddhist temples. 

Machida Zelvia. 
Location: Machida City, Tokyo Metropolis. 
Zelvia is a combination of “zelkova” (Machida city's official tree) and “salvia” (a grassy plant 
commonly used in football pitches).

Matsumoto Yamaga. 
Location: Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture. 
The club was founded in 1965 by the players who represented Nagano Prefecture. The players frequented 
a cafe called Yamaga in front of Matsumoto railway station, and initially they were simply called 
Yamaga Club.

MIO Biwako Shiga. 
Location: Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture. 
(Not to be confused with Kusatsu town, Gunma Prefecture – see Thespa Kusatsu).
MIO is the reverse of the Omi Province, which today comprise Shiga Prefecture, and the Italian 
“lovely”. Biwako is a reference to Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan.

Mito Hollyhock. 
Location: Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. 
Hollyhock (a flowering plant) derives from the family crest of the Tokugawa clan who governed 
Mito in the Edo period.

Montedio Yamagata. 
Location: Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture. 
Montedio is a coined word combining two Italian words Monte (=Mountain) and Dio (=God).

Nagano Parceiro. 
Location: Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. 
Parceiro means “partner” in Portuguese. This reflects the club’s conception of partnership with 
local authorities to co-operate.

Nagoya Grampus. 
Location: Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. 
The team's name was derived from the most prominent symbol of Nagoya: the two golden grampus 
dolphins on the top of Nagoya Castle (which can be more accurately described as “shachihoko”, 
a mythological creature, part of the local folklore)

Oita Trinita. 
Location: Oita City, Oita Prefecture. 
Trinita can be considered either a combination of the English word “trinity” and Oita, or the 
Italian word trinità. The dual meaning expresses the will of the citizens, companies, and local 
governments to support the team.

Omiya Ardija. 
Location: Omiya Ward, Saitama City. 
Ardija is a transcription of the Spanish language “ardilla” (=squirrel) which is the mascot of 
Omiya and the park in which their home stadium is located.

Roasso Kumamoto. 
Location: Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture. 
Roasso is a combination of words, “rosso” meaning “red” (club colours), “asso” meaning “ace” 
in Italian.

Sagan Tosu. 
Location: Tosu City, Saga Prefecture. 
Sagan is a coined word with a couple of meanings behind it. One of its homophones is “sandstone” 
in Japanese. This symbolises many small elements uniting to form one formidable object. Also, 
Sagan Tosu can be interpreted as “Tosu of Saga (Prefecture)” (Saga-n Tosu) in the area's dialect.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima. 
Location: Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture. 
The club name is a combination of the Japanese numeral for three (“san”) and an Italian word 
“frecce” (“arrows”). This is based on the story of Mori Motonari, a prominent landlord of the 
16th century, who told his three sons that while a single arrow might be easily snapped, three 
arrows held together would not be broken, and urged them to work for the good of the clan and 
its retainers.

Shimizu S-Pulse. 
Location: Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka City. 
S-Pulse is a combination of the “S” from Shizuoka, Shimizu, Supporter and Soccer, and Pulse, 
to mean the spirit of all those who support the team.

Shonan Bellmare. 
Location: Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. 
Bellmare is derived from the Latin “bellum” (=beautiful) and “mare” (=sea). Shonan refers to 
a coastal area that includes Hiratsuka.

Thespa Kusatsu. 
Location: Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. 
The name simply means “The Spa”. Kusatsu town, where the club was founded, is one of the most 
well-known hot-spring resorts in Japan.

Tochigi Uva. 
Location: Tochigi City, Tochigi Prefecture. 
The name Uva (meaning “grape” in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) was adopted after the vineyards 
of the club’s home area, southern Tochigi Prefecture.

Tokushima Vortis. 
Location: Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture. 
The name was adopted in 1997, and it was explained as a combination of Italian “Vortice” (meaning 
whirlpool, after the famous Naruto whirlpool in Naruto Strait), with the initials of other provinces 
in Shikoku island, Tosa Province (now Kochi Prefecture), Iyo Province (now Ehime Prefecture), and 
Sanuki Province (now Kagawa Prefecture). Ehime FC in Matsuyama, Ehime has since joined J.League, 
however, thereby nullifying Vortis' claim to represent all of Shikoku.

Tokyo Verdy. 
Location: Tokyo City. 
Verdi is the plural for Green (club colours) in Italian. 

Urawa Red Diamonds. 
Location: Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture. 
The name comes from the former city of Urawa, which is now a part of Saitama City. “Red Diamonds” 
comes from the three-diamond logo of the club’s sponsor, Mitsubishi Group. 

V-Varen Nagasaki. 
Location: Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture. 
The first V stands for “victory”, and Varen is the Dutch for “to sail”, owing to Nagasaki's heritage 
as port of call of Dutch traders during the sakoku period in the Tokugawa shogunate.

Vegalta Sendai. 
Location: Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. 
The name Vegalta was chosen as a homage to the famous Tanabata festival in Sendai. It celebrates 
the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair 
respectively). Vega and Altair were combined to form Vegalta.

Ventforet Kofu. 
Location: Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture. 
The word “Ventforet” is coined combining two French words Vent (=Wind) and Forêt (=Forest). This 
derives from the famous phrase Fū-rin-ka-zan that Shingen Takeda, a Kofu-based prominent daimyo 
in the Sengoku period, liked to see on his war banners. This phrase refers to the idea of “Swift 
as the Wind, Silent as a Forest, Fierce as Fire and Immovable as a Mountain”.

Vissel Kobe. 
Location: Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. 
Vissel is a combination of the words “victory” and “vessel”, a nod to Kobe's history as a port city.

Yokohama F. Marinos. 
Location: Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture. 
Marinos means “sailors” in Spanish, reflecting the fact that Yokohama is the biggest sea-port in 
Japan. The letter “F” was added to the club name in 1998, after its merger with the local rivals 
Yokohama Flügels. 
Flügels sprang from the German word Flügel, meaning wing or wings ("Flügels" is an anglicised 
plural, where the original German word has only one form which can both represent singular and 
plural). The name pointed to the club's former sponsor All-Nippon Airways. 

Zweigen Kanazawa. 
Location: Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. 
Zweigen is a combination of the German “zwei”, for the number 2, and “gen”, to advance. In Kanazawa 
dialect, the phrase “tsuyoi noda!” (Be Strong!) became “tsuee gen!” by double entendre. In German, 
the word zweigen actually means branches, and owing to this, a fleur-de-lis is a key part of the 
club's crest.

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Author: Andrei Balitskiy (AndySakh@yandex.ru)
Last updated: 16 Aug 2012

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