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Nadeshiko League Division 1

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The Nadeshiko League Division 1 (Japanese: なでしこリーグ1課, Nadeshiko rīgu 1-ka), also known as the Plenus Nadeshiko League Division 1 (プレナスリーグ1) for sponsorship reasons,[1] is the top- tier of the Nadeshiko League, the top- flight women's football division in Japan. The league will be replaced by the WE League in 2021[2]

Plenus Nadeshiko League Division 1
Founded1989; 32 years ago (1989)

2004 (current format)
Number of teams10
Relegation toNadeshiko League Division 2
Domestic cup(s)Empress's Cup
Nadeshiko League Cup
International cup(s)AFC Women's Club Championship
Current championsNTV Beleza
(14th title)
Most championshipsNTV Beleza
(14 titles)
TV partnersFox Sports and Entertainment
2020 Nadeshiko League Division 1

The 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.[3][4]

On 3 June 2020, the Japan Football Association announced the replacement of the league with the WE League as a major step in attaining full professionalism, the WE League acronym for (Women's Empowerment League) is set to commence in the 2021 season and will feature between 6 to 10 teams.[2]

After Japan's World Cup win in 2011 the L. League saw an upsurge in popularity.[5][6]

From 2019, the winners of the Nadeshiko League Division 1 earns the right to play in the newly created AFC Women's Club Championship,[7] the continental Asian women's football club competition, a competition which NTV Beleza its inaugural edition.[8]

2020 teams[edit]

Nadeshiko League Division 1 is located in Japan
Iga FC
Iga FC
Vegalta Sendai
Vegalta Sendai
JEF United
JEF United
Locations of 2020 Nadeshiko League Division 1 teams
Club Hometown(s) First Season in
Top Flight
Current Spell in
Top Flight
NTV Beleza Inagi, Tokyo 1989 1989-
INAC Kobe Leonessa Kobe, Hyogo 2005 2005-
Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Sendai, Miyagi 2013 2013-
Albirex Niigata Niigata Prefecture 2007 2007-
Cerezo Osaka Osaka 2018 2020-
Ehime Matsuyama 2020 2020-
JEF United Chiba Chiba, Chiba 2000 2009-
Urawa Red Diamonds Saitama, Saitama 1999 1999-
Nojima Stella Sagamihara, Kanagawa 2017 2017-
Iga Kunoichi Iga, Mie 1989 2019-

Past winners[edit]

Total titles won by club[edit]

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

Club Champions Year
Nippon TV Beleza[lower-alpha 1]
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Nikko Securities Dream Ladies
1996, 1997, 1998
INAC Kobe Leonessa
2011, 2012, 2013
Urawa Reds Ladies[lower-alpha 2]
2004, 2009, 2014
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.

Total titles won by region[edit]

Region Total Clubs
Kantō 21 Nippon TV Beleza (15), Nikko Securities Dream Ladies (3), Urawa Reds Ladies (3)
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)

Previous clubs[edit]

Relegated to regional leagues[edit]

  • Je Vrille Kagoshima - Relegated to Kyushu League from 2014
  • Shimizudaihachi Pleiades - Relegated to Tokai League from 2015
  • Mashiki Renaissance Kumamoto F.C. - Relegated to Kyushu League from 2016


  • Fujita Soccer Club Mercury (affiliated with Shonan Bellmare)
  • Nikko Securities Dream Ladies
  • Nissan F.C. Ladies (affiliated with Yokohama Marinos)
  • OKI F.C. Winds
  • Shiroki F.C. Serena
  • Suzuyo Shimizu F.C. Lovely Ladies (affiliated with Shimizu S-Pulse)
  • Tasaki Perule F.C.
  • Tokyo Shidax L.S.C. (formerly Shinko Seiko F.C. Clair)
  • Urawa Ladies F.C.
  • TEPCO Mareeze (dissolved after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; many of the players moved to Vegalta Sendai Ladies)
  • Aguilas Kobe
  • Hoyo Sukarabu F.C.


See also[edit]

  • Nadeshiko League
  • Empress's Cup
  • Nadeshiko League Cup
  • Japanese football league system
  • FIFA Women's Club World Cup
  • WE League
  • AFC Women's Club Championship


  1. "Plenus Co. Ltd. Supports Nadeshiko League". Plenus Co. Ltd. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Japan unveils professional WE league". AFC. 3 June 2020.
  3. 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.
  4. Gregory G. Reck, Bruce Allen Dick. American Soccer: History, Culture, Class at Google Books McFarland, 2015.
  5. "Nadeshiko League attendance on rise | The Japan Times Online". Japantimes.co.jp. 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  6. "Women's football is booming in Japan as the game tries to capitalise on Nadeshiko's World Cup and Olympic success". Goal.com. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  7. "AFC Women's football committee recommends women's club competition". AFC. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  8. "NTV Beleza claims inaugural AFC Women's Club Championship". JFA. 1 December 2019.
  9. "Japan - List of Women Champions". RSSSF. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  10. "Goals galore on three continents". FIFA. 22 November 2011. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2011. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

External links[edit]

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