But the country has played host to a few games between NFL teams. As seen by the photo above, they sure love their pigskin.
The first was in 1976 in Tokyo, and was called the Mainichi Star Bowl at the old Korakuen Stadium. It was played between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, with the Cards winning 20-10.
After that, the NFL created a series of international contest called the American Bowl games - pre-season NFL exhibition games that rewarded international fans, while examining the viability of creating teams for an International league.
Teams were chosen by the NFL, and was always the fifth pre-season game for the participants held the same weekend as its Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, so it would not take away from participating teams' pre-season schedules.
According to a The Japan Times interview with former NFL linebacker Adam Seward, playing games in Japan wasn't all fun and sushi:
“I actually had some friends that played in that preseason game in Japan,” said Seward, who now serves as a coach for the Kyoto University football team.
“While some really enjoyed the experience, others weren’t so fond of it and couldn’t wait to get back to the United States.
“Though the time change was an issue, the tough part was being in an environment which differs significantly from the typical environment in the U.S. For a large NFL player, it can be tough to eat a Japanese diet, stay in a Japanese hotel room, and walk outside on narrow sidewalks, even if it is just for a few days.”
The first was held at Tokyo Dome on August 6, 1989. The Los Angeles Rams (remember them?) beat the San Francisco 49ers 16-13.
Next, on August 5, 1990, the Denver Broncos defeated the Seattle Seahawks 10-7 at the Tokyo Dome.
August 4, 1991 at the Tokyo Dome, the Miami Dolphins beat the Los Angeles Raiders (nee Oakland) 19-17.
Next year, the Houston Oilers (they will always be the Oilers in my book!) beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-23 at the Tokyo Dome on August 2, 1992.
And on August 1, 1993 at the Tokyo Dome, the New Orleans Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles 29-16.
August 7, 1994, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-9 at Tokyo Dome.
On August 6, 1995, it was the Denver Broncos smashing the San Francisco 49ers 24-10 at the Tokyo Dome.
There was a game on August 12, 1995 at SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) in Toronto, Canada between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys. It was a real snorefest. I only mention this because it was the first NFL game I had ever attended.
Oh yeah... it was also the day after it became legal for women to go topless in Ontario, and luckily a few female fans obliged. Really. Since then... sightings have been few and far between. None, by these eyes since the 1990s.
Women won the right for equality and then refuse to honor it. It saddens me. LOL!
July 28, 1996 at the Tokyo Dome, the San Diego Chargers beat my Pittsburgh Steelers 20-10.
They skipped Japan in 1997.
By the way... there were plenty of other games being played in other cities around the world for the American Bowl... I'm not mentioning them all because this is a blog about Japan written by a Canadian. You can look it up if you are interested HERE.
On August 2, 1998, fans at the Tokyo Dome were treated to a good game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, won by the Packers 27-24.
Nothing in 1999, but on August 6, 2000, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-9.
The next, and last three American Bowl games were all played in Japan.
August 3, 2002 at the Osaka Dome in Osaka (not Tokyo!), the Washington Redskins hammered the San Francisco 49ers 38-7.
August 2, 2004 at the Tokyo Dome, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers obliterated the New York Jets 30-14.
Lastly, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Indianapolis Colts (nee Baltimore) 27-21 at the Tokyo Dome.
Nothing since, and Japanese football fans lament the snub... but that's just business and nothing personal.
As for the 2015-2016 Super Bowl. Enjoy, and drink responsibly.