J-League Club Profile: Oita Trinita

Though they have struggled with a lack of sponsorship, the Kyushu outfit have continued to battle against the odds and fight to hold on to a spot in the J1.


Oita are one of the newest clubs in Japan, formed as recently as 1994 when they joined the local prefectural league’s first division as Oita Trinity.Two first-place finishes in a row saw the club join the JFL (then the second division) in 1996; in 1999 they helped to found the J.League’s second division and adopted the name ‘Trinita’ to represent the local support of fans, sponsors, and government.

In the historical 2002 season, Trinita managed to win the J2 championship and were finally promoted to J1. Though they struggled to remain in the top flight, they made slow but steady gains, rising from 14th to 11th in their first three seasons.

The club’s golden year was 2008, when they earned a fourth-place finish with the league’s stingiest defence and captured their first title by defeating Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 in the Nabisco Cup Final.

They could not repeat their success in 2009, however, as financial problems caused by a lack of sponsorship forced budget cuts that resulted in relegation. The Oita Bank Dome, a beautiful structure built on the hills above Oita City for the 2002 World Cup, once hosted as many as 22,000 for each home game; by 2011, average attendance fell below 9,000 per match.

Against all odds, the club managed a sixth-place finish in the 2012 J2 season and a chance to earn promotion through the newly-installed playoffs. As a result of their low seeding, Trinita needed to win both of their matches in order to progress. They achieved this with an astounding  4-0 triumph at Kyoto Sanga and a well-fought - though perhaps slightly lucky - 1-0 victory over JEF United Chiba at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Top Players
Trinita have hosted a number of top-class Brazilian strikers; Will was a crucial part of their early years, producing 49 goals in 85 appearances from 1998 to 2000.

2000 Brazilian League top scorer Magno Alves joined Trinita in 2004, staying for two seasons. In 2006 he would become the top scorer in both the J.League and AFC Champions League.

Mu Kanazaki, a midfielder who played for Trinita from 2007 to 2009, played a handful of games for Japan and currently plays in the Portuguese Segunda Liga for Portimonense SC.

Hiroshi Kiyotake, who was Kanazaki’s team-mate for two years, has since found success in Germany’s Nurnberg and is now a regular member of Japan’s national team.

Former goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, a product of Trinita’s youth system who was their starter from 2005 to 2009, helped to win the club’s first trophy in 2008. Now a regular backup on the national team, he was a deciding factor behind Japan’s deciding 2-1 victory at South Korea in the 2013 East Asian Cup.


Known colloquially as the Big Eye, the Oita Bank Dome was designed by famed architect Kisho Kurokawa ahead of the 2002 World Cup. In addition to two group stage matches, it hosted Senegal’s famous 2-1 win over Sweden in the Round of 16.

The retractable dome allows for over 43,000 fans to enjoy the match regardless of inclement weather, and has hosted several national team friendlies.

Colors and Uniform

Trinita’s base color is blue; until 2006 their uniforms included yellow accents which have in recent years been replaced with black.


Niitan, a turtle, represents Trinita’s slow and steady pace toward victory. His shell is shaped like a football and on his back is a map depicting Oita Prefecture. He is one of the J-League’s newest mascots, first appearing before the 2008 season.