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Wikipedia - Nadeshiko League

The Japan Women's Football League (Japanese: 日本女子サッカーリーグ, Nihon Joshi Sakkā Rīgu), commonly known as the Nadeshiko League (Japanese: なでしこリーグ, Nadeshiko Rīgu), is a semi-professional women's association football league in Japan.

The Nadeshiko League consists of two divisions that correspond to the second and third levels of the Japanese women's football pyramid respectively. Teams are promoted and relegated between the divisions, and between the Nadeshiko League Division 2 and the fourth-level Japanese regional leagues, based on performance in the previous season. Prior to 2021, the Nadeshiko League occupied the top level of the Japanese women's football pyramid as well; that level is now represented by the fully professional WE League.

Since 2008, the Nadeshiko League has been sponsored by Plenus (株式会社プレナス), a fast food (bento) company based in Fukuoka.


The Japan Women's Football League, or the L. League, was founded in 1989. From 1993 to 1999 it adopted an Apertura and Clausura system, similar to the J. League system of that era. From 2000 to 2003 the clubs were divided into East and West groups and then the top clubs of each would go into a championship group, with the bottom clubs in a relegation group. In 2004 the single-table format was brought back. Teams from this early era would host annual training camps to build skills and relationships with international women's football clubs, such as those in the United States and Australia.

In 2004 the L. League acquired the nickname the Nadeshiko League. Nadeshiko is the name of the dianthus flower and was chosen from suggestions by fans, signifying an ideal of a dutiful Japanese woman.

In the 2004 season, the L. League added a second division, and until 2009 the league operated in the same way as the old Japan Soccer League for men where the bottom club in the second division playing off against a regional league playoff winner. In 2010, the second division was divided into east and west groups of six teams each; the winners of each group were promoted to the first division.

After Japan's World Cup win in 2011, the L. League saw an upsurge in popularity. In 2015, the league added a third division called the Nadeshiko Challenge League (チャレンジリーグ, Charenji Rīgu) was added, and the first and second divisions now had 10 teams each.

In 2020, the Japan Football Association announced that the newly established WE League will become the top level for women's football in Japan in 2021. The Nadeshiko League would then become the second to fourth levels of the Japanese women's football pyramid. After many top teams left for the WE League, the Nadeshiko League abolished the third division in 2021.