The 10 Best Women Soccer Players From Japan: Top Scorers From Japan Women’s Team

Japan has a rich history in women’s soccer, producing really good players who have done well both in their country and internationally. These players are not just great on the field but also inspire others worldwide.

The women’s national team won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup by beating the United States. This was a big deal because they were the first Asian team to win, and only the fourth team in the world to become women’s world champions. They got silver medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. That made them the only Asian team to have three medals from these major championships. They also won gold medals in other competitions like the AFC Women’s Asian Cups in 2014 and 2018, the Asian Games in 2010 and 2018, and the EAFF Football Championships in 2008, 2010, and 2019.

These players have worked hard, loved what they do, and been really good at it. They’ve not only made women’s soccer more popular in Japan but also raised the game’s level worldwide. Fans and experts all appreciate their dedication, passion, and skill.

Best Women Soccer Players From Japan

Now, let’s talk about some of the best women’s soccer players from Japan and the top goal-scorers from the women’s national team.

1. Homare Sawa

  • Career Span: 1993–2015
  • Matches: 205
  • Goals: 83

Homare Sawa is the top-ranked player among the best women soccer players from Japan. She started playing for the Japanese women’s national soccer team when she was just 15 years old. She won her first title with Japan in 2008 at the East Asian Championships in China. The same year, she helped her team secure fourth place at the Olympic Games in Beijing. In the 2011 World Cup, she scored a crucial backheel goal in the final against the USA, leading Japan to win their first-ever World Cup. She was the top scorer of the tournament, earning the Golden Boot and also the Golden Ball for the best player. As the team captain, she received the Golden Trophy for fair play and was voted World Player of the Year in 2011.

Sawa continued to be a key player for Japan in the following years, participating in the London Olympics in 2012 where they won silver. She announced her resignation from the national team after the final defeat. She reached a milestone of 100 international matches for Japan on February 18, 2005. Sawa was named Asia’s Footballer of the Year in 2004 and 2008.

After 186 international matches and 81 goals, Sawa retired from the national team on August 11, 2012. However, she made a comeback in 2013 and played in the 2015 World Cup. With 205 international matches and 83 goals, she holds the records for the most appearances and goals for the Japanese women’s team. She played in 24 World Cup games and 17 Olympic Games games, scoring 8 World Cup goals and 3 goals at the Olympic Games.

2. Yuki Nagasato

  • Career Span: 2004–2016
  • Matches: 132
  • Goals: 58

Yuki Nagasato holds the second spot among the best women soccer players from Japan. She started playing for the Japanese national team on April 22, 2004, in an Olympic qualifier against Thailand, which Japan won. She played in the 2007 and 2011 World Championships, winning the latter and becoming a world champion. She also participated in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal in 2012. In that Olympic tournament, she played in all six games and scored the first goal for Japan in all three knockout round games, including the final against the USA.

She reached her 100th international match on July 25, 2013, in the East Asian Championship against North Korea. In the 2014 Women’s Asian Football Championship, Nagasato scored her 50th international goal, helping Japan win the title for the first time.

Nagasato played in the 2015 World Cup, scoring a goal in the group stage against Ecuador and another in the final against the USA, although Japan ultimately finished as runners-up. She was also part of the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games but Japan couldn’t qualify. With 58 goals, including five in a game against the Republic of China/Taiwan on July 21, 2006, Nagasato is the second-highest goal-scorer in the Japanese national team, following the record-holder Homare Sawa, who scored 83 goals.

3. Kaori Nagamine

  • Career Span: 1984–1996
  • Matches: 64
  • Goals: 48

Kaori Nagamine is ranked third among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She made her debut for the Japanese national team on October 22, 1984, in a match against Australia.

Nagamine was selected for the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cup squads, showcasing her talent on the international stage. Throughout her career, she played in a total of 64 international matches for Japan and scored 48 Goals.

4. Shinobu Ohno

  • Career Span: 2003–2016
  • Matches: 139
  • Goals: 40

Shinobu Ohno is ranked fourth among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She debuted for the senior team on January 12, 2003, playing against the United States in San Diego. Her first goal for Japan came on March 19, 2003, in a match against Thailand. She took part in both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, playing in all six games in the latter tournament and scoring a goal in the group stage against Mexico. Ohno also participated in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

She reached a significant milestone in 2012, making her 100th international appearance in the Algarve Cup against the USA. Ohno was part of the squad for the 2012 Olympics, playing in five of the six games, including the final where Japan lost 2-1 to the USA, earning a silver medal. In the quarterfinals against Brazil, she scored a goal, contributing to a 2-0 victory.

In 2015, Ohno was included in the squad for the World Cup in Canada, playing in all seven games but not scoring any goals. Unfortunately, her team couldn’t qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, despite her scoring her 40th international goal in the qualifying tournament against Vietnam.

5. Aya Miyama

  • Career Span: 2003–2016
  • Matches: 162
  • Goals: 38

Aya Miyama holds the fifth spot among the best women soccer players from Japan. She joined the Japanese national team in 2003. She made her debut on March 19, 2003, in an international friendly against Thailand, scoring her first goal on June 9, 2003, against the Philippines in the 14th Asia Women Football Competition. She participated in various major tournaments, including the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the 2010 Asian Games.

Her standout moment came in the 2011 World Cup, where she scored the winning goal in the first group game against New Zealand and the equalizer in the final against the USA. Japan won the World Cup with a 3-1 penalty shootout, with Miyama scoring the first penalty. She was also the captain of the Japanese squad for the London Olympics, where they reached the final but lost 2-1 to the USA, earning a silver medal.

In May 2014, Miyama and her team won the Asian Championship for the first time, with her named the best player of the tournament. She played in the 2015 World Cup, scoring goals and contributing significantly to Japan’s journey to the final. Despite losing to the USA in the final, she received recognition as the third-best player, earning the “Bronze Ball.” In the 2015 World Player of the Year vote, Miyama ranked third.

Unfortunately, Japan couldn’t qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after failing in the qualifying tournament. With 162 international matches and scored 38 goals, she is the second most-capped player in the national team after Homare Sawa.

6. Mana Iwabuchi

  • Career Span: 2010–2023
  • Matches: 89
  • Goals: 36

Mana Iwabuchi is the sixth-best women’s soccer player from Japan. She started playing for the national team in 2010. She scored her first goal in a match against Taiwan. In the 2011 World Cup, she helped Japan win, and in the 2012 Olympics, her team got silver.

In 2015, she played in the World Cup and scored a crucial goal against Australia. She also played in the 2016 Olympic qualifiers, where she was the top scorer. In 2017, she scored a goal in the East Asian Championship. In 2018, she helped Japan win the Asian Championship, earning a spot in the 2019 World Cup. In 2019, she was the top scorer in the East Asian Championship.

In 2020, at the SheBelieves Cup, she was again the top scorer, but Japan lost all three games. She played in the 2020 Olympics, scoring against Canada and participating in the quarter-finals, where Japan lost to Sweden. In 2022, she played in the Asian Championships, helping Japan qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

7. Mio Otani

  • Career Span: 2000–2007
  • Matches: 73
  • Goals: 31

Mio Otani is ranked fourth among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She started playing for the Japanese national team in 2000.

Otani was part of the squads for the 2003 Women’s World Cup, 2007, and 2004 Summer Olympics. Throughout her career, she played in a total of 73 international matches for Japan and scored 31 Goals.

8. Futaba Kioka

  • Career Span: 1981–1996
  • Matches: 75
  • Goals: 30

Futaba Kioka is ranked eighth among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She joined the Japanese national team in 1981 and played in the 1981 Asian Women’s Football Championship.

Kioka was also part of the squads for the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 1995, and 1996 Summer Olympics. Throughout her career, she played a total of 75 international matches for Japan and scored 30 Goals.

9. Mizuho Sakaguchi

  • Career Span: 2006–2019
  • Matches: 124
  • Goals: 29

Mizuho Sakaguchi is ranked ninth among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She earned her first cap for Japan on July 19, 2006, against Vietnam in the Women’s Asian Championship, scoring a goal on her debut. Sakaguchi played in all six games for Japan at the 6th Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011. She was also part of the Japanese squad for the London Olympics, playing in all six games, including the final, where Japan lost 2-1 to the USA and won the silver medal.

In the 2014 Women’s Asian Football Championship, Sakaguchi scored two goals in the group game against Jordan, contributing to Japan winning the Asian Championship for the first time. She played in the 2015 World Cup, scoring a goal in the round of 16 against the Netherlands. Although Japan reached the final, they lost to the USA.

During the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games, Sakaguchi played her 100th international match in the final game against North Korea, but Japan missed the Olympics, finishing third in the tournament. In 2018, she helped Japan defend the Asian champion title by scoring a goal in the last group game against Australia. This secured Japan’s spot in the semi-finals and the 2019 World Cup.

10. Asako Takakura

  • Career Span: 1984–1999
  • Matches: 79
  • Goals: 29

Asako Takakura is ranked tenth among the best women’s soccer players from Japan. She played for the Japanese national team from 1984 to 1996. Takakura participated in the first Women’s World Cup in 1991, playing in the three group games, but Japan couldn’t secure a win. Four years later, she was nominated again for the World Cup squad. In the second group game, Japan achieved their first World Cup win, beating Brazil 2-1.

Although they lost the other two group games against Germany and Sweden, Japan reached the quarter-finals as the second-best third group. There, they faced defending champions USA and lost 0-4. Japan qualified for the first women’s soccer tournament at the 1996 Olympic Games, playing in all group games but losing to Norway, Germany, and Brazil.

After the Olympics, Takakura retired from international play, having scored 29 goals in 79 games, making her the 10th-best goal-scorer for the Japanese team in 2023, along with Mizuho Sakaguchi.

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