According to the Japanese Soft Tennis Association, Soft Tennis originated in Japan in the 1870's as an offshoot of standard tennis (at the time, it was referred to as lawn tennis), which was introduced by the English. Initially played in a school setting as part of a physical education curriculum, Soft Tennis gained popularity and spread to a more mainstream audience across Japan. Today there are an estimated 5 million Soft Tennis players in Japan alone. That does not include players in other Asian countries such as Taiwan and Korea, and an even broader audience in the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and Zaire.
The current popularity and growth of Soft Tennis is reflected in the creation of the International Soft Tennis Federation and the World Soft Tennis Championships, which began in 1975 and have been held every four years since. As of March 2004, the International Soft Tennis Federation has more then forty-five actively participating member countries/regions.
In 1990, Soft Tennis became an official exhibition game at the OCA's Asian Game of Sports, and an official event, in 1994, at the Hiroshima Games. More importantly, there are a number of well-promoted and proactive campaigns to get Soft Tennis recognized by the International Olympic Committee as an official Olympic event.
As a result of this increased recognition and interest in the game, Nagase Kenko Corporation, one of Japan's leading Soft Tennis product and sporting goods manufacturers, is now moving to launch Soft Tennis across the U.S. and within other markets around the world.