Japan has always been known as one of the best Asian countries for producing talent.
This is reflected by the fact that ever since 1998 they have qualified for every World Cup.
As well as also superstars such as Hidetoshi Nakata and Keisuke Honda, who come from the country.
While yes the qualifying campaigns are arguably not to the level of other continents, they often put on a show at international tournaments too.
Now with a history of producing quality players over the years, a number have impressed and found themselves on the books of some of the best football teams in the world.
But of all the Japanese footballers, from those playing in Europe and those in the local J1 League, which Japanese footballers are earning the most money.
If your interested in finding them out then this post is for you as I will take you through the 9 highest-paid Japanese footballers.
9. Shinji Kagawa – £11,000
A few years ago Shinji Kagawa was not only lighting up the stage being Japans main talisman, but he was earning a decent amount of money a week.
After impressing at Borussia Dortmund, Shinji impressed teams all around Europe, which saw him eventually deciding to go to Manchester United with him being awarded an £80,000 wage.
Unfortunately for him, the move never really worked out, with him leaving to go back to Dortmund just two years later for half the amount Manchester United paid for him.
Since then his career has gone downhill, making moves to lower-level clubs.
Now at PAOK, he signed for the greek club in January 2021 and currently earns £11,000 a week.
This is close to 8 times less than what he was making in Manchester, taking him from once one of the highest earners from his country to one of the lowest.
8. Yoichiro Kakitani – £12,500 A Week
The next two players are each playing in the J1 League, and firstly we start with Yoichiro Kakitani an attacking midfielder who plays for Nagoya Grampus.
While he isn’t one of the most well-known Japanese footballers, especially for your casual follower he is a top player who has played for clubs around his country and in Europe.
In 2015/16 he has a year spell with top Swiss outfit FC Basel, before moving back to his home country to play for Cerezo Osaka in 2016 a team he stayed at until 2021.
Now at Nagoya Grampus, he is one of the highest-paid Japanese footballers in the domestic league earning £12,500 a week.
I know it doesn’t seem like a lot to be considered a high earner but in the J1 League clubs are known for giving greater wages to overseas players, as for example players like Iniesta earn considerably more at around £400k a week.
7. Hotaru Yamaguchi – £12,500 A Week
Speaking of Iniesta, a teammate of his at Vissel Kobe is veteran midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi who currently earns roughly £12,500 a week playing for the Japanese outfit.
Again like Kakitani, he is somewhat unknown around Europe, however is a quality footballer who plays along Iniesta in the centre of the park and as had one spell in Europe with Hannover 96 in Germany.
6. Makoto Hasebe – £16,000 A Week
Despite being 37 not only is Hasebe still playing his football at the highest level in Europe with Eintracht Frankfurt but he also is one of the highest-earning Japanese footballers with an income of £16,000 a week.
Getting towards the end of his career now, he isn’t playing week in week out like he once was, however, over the years he has been a fantastic leader on the pitch and has shown his versatility playing both have a defending midfielder and center back.
Playing over 193 times for Eintracht Frankfurt, he has got himself into the Bundesliga legends Network as well as set the record for most appearances by an Asian footballer in the Bundesliga.
5. Gotoku Sakai – £16,200 A Week
Gotoku Sakai is the highest-paid Japanese footballer who plays in the J1 league, earning roughly £16,200 a week playing for big spenders Vissel Kobe.
Now interestingly enough despite being the highest earner in his country he plays right-back a position that most clubs don’t give the best wages to.
Saying that though he is an experienced footballer at the age of 30 now who has had a length spell in Germany playing for two clubs, Stuttgart between 2011 – 2015 and Hamburg SV straight after between 2015 and 2019.
At Hamburg however, things didn’t go to plan as he was part of the team that was famously relegated to the second tier in Germany.
Ever since 2019 though, he has been playing football in Japan alongside the likes of David Villa, Podolski, and Iniesta for Vissel Kobe.
4. Maya Yoshida – £24,000 A Week
Veteran centre back who once played for Southampton, Maya Yoshida is a high earning Japanese footballer making close to 6 figures a month.
The Japanese international, took a slight pay cut when joining Italian side Sampdoria, going from £28,000 to £24,000 a week.
Now at 33, the player who also wears Mizuno is still regurlay at club level aswell as at an international level in the lead up the 2022 World Cup.
3. Takefusa Kubo – £33,000
One of the most exciting players to come out of Japan in recent years is youngster Takefusa Kubo.
While it feels like he has been around for a while, Kubo who signed for Real Madrid back in 2019, is still only 20 years of age.
With him being valued as a player for the future, and one of the most technically gifted of his age, the Catalans signed him on a 5 year contract, which sees him get £33,000 a week.
However despite all the hype around the player, he has yet to play for the Real Madrid first team, despite heading into his third year of the contract.
As since joining he has played for 5 different clubs within the Spanish top division on loan.
2. Takehiro Tomiyasu – £40,000
With Arsenal failing to qualify for European football for the first time since the 1990’s meant that sureing up the defense was a big priority.
The answer was to make several acquisitions in the defense, and one of them is promising Japanese footballer Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Previously at Bologna he showed his defensive qualities, that encouraged the north London club to swoop in for him for £17.
To go with the transfer fee, he was given a contract which is said to be triple what he was previously making.
Going from £13,000 a week to £40,000, a wage that you would expect to be given from one of the richest clubs in England, with teammates such as Tierney also receiving bumper contracts.
1. Takumi Minamino – £75,000
When you join one of the best football clubs in the world, not only are you going to be playing a high standard of football but it usually comes with a big increase in earnings.
This is what happened to Takumi Minamino when he made the move to Liverpool after making an impression when playing against his future club at RB Salzburg.
While Takumi has struggled for first team action in the last few years, due to how good the first team is at Liverpool is when fully fit, his earnings have gone up considerably.
Once earning £4,600 a month in his first couple of seasons in Austria, now sees him earning £75,000 a week in England.