The Japanese J.League kicked off this weekend and I thought it would be a good idea to get everybody up to date on who is wearing what and add a few comments of my own in. Hopefully this will become more of a regular thing and involve other leagues if reasonably popular with people. Keep your eyes peeled.
Nagoya Grampus - Le Coq Sportif
We start this J. League special with the current league champions. Made by Le Coq Sportif, Nagoya sport a kit filled with a lot more red than the previous season's effort. Orange and black chevrons cross the chest just below the sponsor logo and also black panels at the sides give it a nice simple almost classic look. The away kit is in the same design as the home except with the colours switched around. White becomes the predominant colour with orange replaced by black and the black becoming red. Being the 2010 champions both shirts are adorned with a golden J.League logo on the sleeve.
Gamba Osaka - Umbro
The tailored Umbro style seems to have yet reached the shores of Japan and can be seen in striking form on the Gamba Osaka shirts. More reminiscent of what we saw from Umbro a few years ago, these Gamba shirts are very eye catching, the different widths of the stripes, the use of fluo-yellow and the countless number of panels, these shirts are definitely something you won't be forgetting immediately. The away shirt, although toned down in the sense that it doesn't have barcode like stripes, is still something very unique to Gamba. Then there's the 3rd shirt to boot, fluo-yellow with blue and black centre stripes and all the other garb, a definite love it or hate it shirt.
Cerezo Osaka - Mizuno
Onto the pink half of Osaka now. The pink colour actually comes from the cherry blossom flowers which the city is famous for and the club even takes it's name from. The home kit made by Mizuno is pretty much exactly the same as was used in the season prior, although now the side panels have changed a bit, and the Mizuno pattern on the sleeves have changed colour but nothing massive. The away kit however has changed, not by much, but it is different. The template is quite modern looking with a bit of a 2006 adidas feel, the plain white is accompanied by touches of dark blue and pink details all over the shirt.
Kashima Antlers - Nike
The traditional power houses of the J.League with 7 titles to their name, Kashima Antlers have a brand new kits for a brand new season, although you may not think so at first glimpse. The new home shirt is quite similar to what they had the previous year, but with a sponsor change and a faded pattern this is a new shirt alright. The away kit has more of a change to though, swapping from a grey/black colour scheme to white/beige, the kit also uses the zig-zig pattern commonly found on a lot of Nike shirts this season.
Kawasaki Frontale - Puma
A really good effort here for Frontale who jumped ship from Asics over to Puma. Kawasaki's home shirt uses a unique template which has yet to be seen on any other team in the world so far to my knowledge. Sometimes changing to a larger manufacturer a teams identifaction can get lost but this most certainly isn't the case. The home may seem really busy to some but I think it works well, the fading stripes, the symbol on the side of the shirt even though I'm not sure what it is, I like, and then the modern design of the template and collar. The away kit is a slightly more dull affair using the same template as this season's Tottenham shirt in roughly the same colours too.
Shimizu S-Pulse - Puma
Gone are the days of Shimizu's wonderful shirt with a map of the world on the front in a dazzling orange, although the orange is still here, it's not quite as original as it once was. Using the Puma template which can be found with floating around all over the place, it just isn't as emblematic as the shirts of old. The away kit uses exactly the same template with the colours switched.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima - Nike
One of my favourites from Japan this season. Sanfrecce swap from Mizuno to Nike and definitely for the better. The colours and the pattern work superbly well together, although maybe I feel this way since purple kits are a rarity to find anyway, so when one like this comes along it catches you off guard. Although a little let down by the DeoDeo sponsor, it more than makes up for it elsewhere. The away is also a sight to behold although all the different colours together on here really don't work as well.
Yokohama F. Marinos - Nike
Nearly every season the F. Marinos release a good looking kit and to me this season is no exception. The two shades of blue in the chevron pattern on the front work excellently and the spots of red aren't too overpowering or garish either. The away, just like Hiroshima, is quite bewildering on the eye. Using fluo-yellow, dark blue and spots of red the players certainly won't have trouble finding each other.
Albirex Niigata - Adidas
Albirex are one of the few teams to have made the bold statement of deciding not to change anything with their kits for the 2011 season, both home and away are exactly the same as the previous season. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, for me they had one of the nicest strips last season and they're up there again this time around.
Well that's it for now stay tuned for the second half of the J.League 1 round-up.