J-League Club Profile: Jubilo Iwata

The J-League cofounders were also one of the country's earliest dynasties and remain a force to be reckoned with.


Jubilo Iwata missed the first cut to join the J.League in 1993, but joined the year after and soon imposed themselves as a powerhouse of Japanese professional football’s first decade. As a club, they’ve existed since 1972, as part of Yamaha’s sport division.

Jubilo won their first of three J.League championships in 1997, following up with wins in 1999 and 2002. They also claimed the 1998 Nabisco Cup and 2003 Emperor’s Cup as well as the 1998-99 Asian Club Championship, the predecessor to the modern AFC Champions League.

In the last ten years, however, much like prefectural rivals Shimizu S-Pulse, Jubilo have fallen from grace. Though they have yet to be relegated, their lone title in the last decade has been the 2010 Nabisco Cup.

While they were perilously close to the drop in 2008, Jubilo survived after a two-stage playoff against promotion contenders Vegalta Sendai. With the challengers needing just one more goal to win the series, the frantic final minute of the second leg saw all 11 Jubilo players fend off several shots to preserve their place in the top flight.

In the 2000s the club has been best represented by Ryoichi Maeda, whose ‘Death Goal’ has become the stuff of legend. From 2007 to 2012, the first team to surrender a goal to Maeda was always relegated to the second division.

Despite the lack of recent success, Jubilo Iwata remain one of the top clubs in the history of J.League, and along with Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F. Marinos are one of Japanese professional football’s pillars.

Top Players
Former Messina and Juventus legend Salvatore Schillaci called Jubilo home from 1994 to 1997, becoming the first Italian to play in the J.League and helping the club to their first title. His team-mate, midfielder Toshiya Fujita, played an essential role in the club’s 1999 title as captain and eventual league MVP.

The two played alongside legendary Brazil international Dunga between 1995 and 1998. The future Selecao coach played 26 games in their league-winning 1997 squad, but left the club due to the high exchange rate forcing a reduction in salary.

Central midfielder Hiroshi Nanami spent 12 seasons with the club while also becoming a key part of Japan’s national team and appearing in the 1998 World Cup. He was one of Japan’s earliest players in Serie A after playing for Venezia in the the 1999-2000 season.

Nanami was not the only Jubilo alum to travel overseas. 2002 league MVP and top scorer Naohiro Takahara made the voyage to Germany after five years of service in Iwata, spending several seasons at Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt before returning to the J.League.

However, the club’s most well-known player may very well be Masashi ‘Gon’ Nakayama, who remained a fixture at Jubilo from the opening game of the 1994 season until his departure in 2009. In 1998 he set a Guinness World Record with four consecutive hat-tricks, just two months before becoming the first Japanese player to score in the World Cup.

Current South Korea NT leader Lee Keun-Ho made his J.League debut in Iwata, playing there for a season and a half before being sold to Gamba Osaka in the summer of 2009.


Comfortable Yamaha Stadium opened in 1978, and has since been expanded and twice renovated to its current capacity of just over 15,000. The football-specific stadium is also used for rugby matches.

Like rivals S-Pulse, Jubilo use Ecopa Stadium as a home ground for matches with expected high attendance.

Colors and Uniform

Jubilo first used a deep blue as their primary color but over the years have transitioned to saxe blue, which is their current base color. Deep blue has frequently been used as an accent and occasionally in third uniforms.


Jubilo-kun is a bird inspired by the Japanese paradise flycatcher. His girlfriend, Jubi-chan, first appeared in 2003.