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Emperor's Cup: the Japanese Football Cup
What is the Japan Cup?
The full name of the Japan Cup is the Emperor's Cup JFA All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament. It is also known as the Emperor's Cup, the Emperor's Cup Soccer, or the Japan FA Cup. This is a traditional and popular cup competition in Japanese football.
Founded in 1921, the Emperor's Cup has existed for exactly one century. It has been played before the formation of the J. League, Japan Football League, and even their predecessor, Japan Soccer League. Teams could qualify not only from Japan, but also from Korea, Taiwan, and occasionally Manchukuo, before WWII. The Empress' Cup is the equivalent cup competition for women.
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Overview of the Emperor's Cup
The tournament is open to all member clubs of the Japan Football Association, including professional teams from J1, J2, J3 to the teams in JFL, regional leagues, and also the top college and high school teams from regions all around the countries. This is considered one of two famous national football tournaments named after a monarch (the other cup competition is Spain’s Copa del Rey).
The best team can wear a Yatagarasu emblem and gain a spot in the AFC Champions League next season. Since the creation of the J.League system in 1992, professional clubs have dominated the competition. However, because the Emperor's Cup is played in a knockout tournament format, the prospect of "giant-killers" from the amateur ranks upsetting a top J.League team exists.
The original All Japan Championship Tournament trophy was awarded to the Japanese Football Association by the English Football Association in 1919. The cup was then melted down to procure additional metal for the war effort. When the competition was reformed, the current trophy, showing the Imperial chrysanthemum seal began to be used and awarded. In August 2011, the English FA introduced its Japanese counterpart with a replica of the initial trophy. It was hoped to express “a symbol of peace”.
How is the format of the Japan FA Cup?
The latest cup competition (2021) has the participation of 90 football teams from all over the nation. The first matches to enter the Emperor’s Cup start anywhere from April to August of that year, and changes year to year. For the 2017 Emperor’s Cup, the matches had taken place on 22 April 2017 and ended with the final on 1 January 2018.
The cup winner qualifies for the AFC Champions League since the 2001 tournament. Before that, the cup winner joined the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup. Since the 2012 season, the cup winner has to hold a J1 Club License to meet an obligatory demand to enter the ACL.
If the winner has already earned an AFC Champions League spot by finishing above third in J1 League, the empty spot will be given to the J1's fourth-placed team.
Title by Clubs in the Emperor’s Cup
Keio University FC is considered the best team in the cup competition with 9n times winning the title and 4 times being the runner-up. Urawa RD, Yokohama F.M, and Kwansei Gakuin University are chasing closely with 7 titles each. Kawasaki Frontale is the defending winning club of the tournament (2020).
There are many other clubs that can enter the final game but have not won any title. They are also trying to get better successes in the future.
Kawasaki Frontale are the 100th Emperor's Cup's winners