In the second part of @GifuRichy‘s look back at the non-professional Japanese leagues, he casts his eye over the JFL, and those clubs that were looking to get to the promised land of the J.League proper.

2016 overall standings of “J-chasing” teams:

3 Azul Claro Numazu (59pts)
7 Vanraure Hachinohe (46pts)
8 Reinmeer Aomori (45pts)
9 MIO Biwako Shiga (40pts)
10 Nara Club (37pts)

1st Stage Winner – Ryutsu Keizai University (54pts)
2nd Stage Winner – Honda FC (61pts)

Overall champion: Honda FC

Azul Claro Numazu (official website)

Shizuoka now has a new professional member of the J club, as Azul Claro Numazu join Jubilo Iwata (J1), Shimizu S-Pulse (J1) and Fujieda MYFC (J3) for the 2017 season. Numazu finished 5 th in the 1 st stage, and then picked up the pace to finish 4th in the 2nd stage, therefore securing a top 4 finish and J3 promotion. The team had great support throughout the various home grounds they used this year and will be a welcome addition to what is looking like an ever competitive league in the J3.


* How the Azul Claro Numazu website showed their promotion to the J.League 

Vanraure Hachinohe (official website)

Vanraure failed to live up to the heights of last year where they finished 2 nd , and were therefore eligible for promotion, only to be let down by their stadium. The issue was sorted this year when Daihatsu Stadium was built for the team however the results didn’t come as were hoped for. The team finished a poor 9 th in the 1 st stage which left a lot of catchup work in the 2nd stage. Although the team improved and finished 5 th in the 2 nd stage it was still not enough, as they finished 9th overall. The future still looks bright for the team, who attracted good numbers to their home games, and with the stadium and other major financial problems cleared, they will be a team to watch out for in 2017.


* Vanraure Hachinohe’s Daihatsu Stadium

Reinmeer Aomori (official website)

Reinmeer had a decent first season in the JFL, finishing in the top half of the but unfortunately for them, they were just pipped at the posts by Aomori rivals Vanraure Hachinohe in the final standings. After a difficult 1 st stage where they didn’t play their first home game until round 7 (due to snow) the team picked up the pace and lead the way for the majority of the 2 nd stage. Attendance numbers averaged under 1000 people per game but with the team now established in the area, there is hope that numbers will rise next year. Off the park the management will now have an idea of what is needed for the team to go forward, and the club will be looking at getting into the position to obtain a J3 license for 2018.

* Now THAT is a hairstyle

MIO Biwako Shiga (official website)

MIO are another team who made some improvements as the year went on. They finished the 1 st stage in 8 th , and then the 2 nd stage in 10 th . On and off the field though the team has failed to attract anywhere near the attendance numbers big enough for J3 promotion. Financially things aren’t that great either and the team looks like they will be trapped in the JFL for at least a few more years unless there are big changes ahead.


* On the way to MIO’s home stadium

Nara Club (official website)

Probably the biggest disappointment of the year is Nara Club. A disastrous 1 st stage where they finished 14 th meant that their season was almost over only halfway through the season. In the 2 nd stage they fought back to a respectable 7 th place, but it was all too little to late. Probably the only real positive for the team is that their fanbase held strong throughout the season. Off the field the club are looking alright but on the field is where the problems lie. Things can only get better for Nara though, and they will still be one of the teams to watch in 2017.


* The symbol of Nara – Deer

* Note – you can read a bit more about Nara Club in the next edition of the excellent J.Soccer Magazine