J-League Club Profile: Yokohama F. Marinos

With a rich history and fervent base of supporters, the J-League co-founders have throughout the years remained one of Japan's most iconic clubs.


Yokohama is Japan’s biggest harbor, and very likely the place where football came ashore in the 19th century via British naval officers. It is no surprise that the the biggest team in town is called Marinos, the Spanish word for “sailors.”

The club was founded in 1972 as the football division of Nissan Motors. After climbing up through the regional leagues, Marinos became a powerhouse of Japanese football, winning the national championship in 1989 and 1990.

The Yokohama franchise, renamed Yokohama Marinos, became one of the first clubs accepted as founding member of the J.League in 1991. In 1992 they won the Emperor’s Cup, their first trophy as a professional club.

When the first full season of professional Japanese football kicked off on May 15th 1993, Marinos played the opening game versus Verdy Kawasaki, beating them 2-1.

They would however have to wait until 1995 to clinch their first J.League title, when they defeated their arch-rivals Verdy in the two-legged championship final after winning the season’s first stage.

Following Yokohama Flugels’ bankruptcy at the end of the 1999 season, Marinos controversially absorbed their rival, adding the ‘F.’ to their name in the process.

Marinos’ ‘Golden Years’ were in the early 2000s, which featured two straight league championships in 2003 and 2004 as well as the 2001 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.

As one of the biggest contributors of players to Japan’s World Cup squads, they remain one of the J.League’s most popular clubs. Their nine-year trophy drought ended on New Year’s Day 2014, when they captured the Emperor’s Cup after falling just short in the 2013 J.League campaign.

Top Players
Yokohama F. Marinos’ first captain was Japan international Kazushi Kimura, who, at 34 led the club through their debut season and would later go on to serve as manager. Ramon Diaz was the “marquee” player in the club’s early years, clinching the scoring title in 1993. He too would return as a coach.

Masami Ihara, an elegant center-back who spent a decade at Marinos and participated in Japan’s first-ever World Cup in 1998, is considered the team’s ‘historical’ captain.

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi defended the Marinos goal from 1995 to 2001 before trying his luck in England at Portsmouth. At 38, he remains an active player at Jubilo Iwata with over 400 total J1 appearances.

Another popular player who started his career in Yokohama is Japanese fantasista Shunsuke Nakamura, who returned to the club in 2012 after a successful career in Europe that saw him playing for Reggina, Celtic and Espanyol.

Charismatic center-back Yuji ‘Bomberhead’ Nakazawa was one of Japan’s heroes at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and among the club’s memorable foreigner players is the Brazilian Marquinhos, who is the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer with over 130 goals.


A 15-minute walk away from the bullet train station at Shin-Yokohama, Nissan Stadium boasts Japan’s largest capacity with room for over 72,000 fans. Opened in 1998, the two-tiered all-seater boasts a large track around the perimeter of the pitch and hosted the 2002 World Cup Final that saw Brazil triumph 2-0 over Germany.

In addition to occasionally serving as a venue for the country’s national team, Nissan Stadium has hosted several FIFA Club World Cups.

When their traditional home stadium is unavailable, Marinos use the intimate Mitsuzawa Stadium, a mostly football-specific ground that fits just 15,000 supporters on a hill accessible by bus.

Colors and Uniform

Marinos’ blue and red tops and white shorts have caused fans to use ‘Tricolore’ as a nickname. Many of their shirt designs over the years have integrated design elements from sailor’s uniforms, and recent kits have included seagull and anchor motifs.


The club’s original mascot is Marinos-kun, a seagull representing the symbol of Yokohama. His nephew, Marinosuke, was unveiled in 2000.