Bullfights are currently held in six regions in Japan. The biggest challenge in these regions is the lack of sufficient young people who can raise bulls. Further, the number of bull owners is decreasing each year. However, on Tokunoshima Island alone many young people are raising bulls. This research studies why bullfighting is popular on Tokunoshima Island while the other five areas are facing a lack of young people willing to carry on the tradition. Bullfighting started as a form of entertainment in agricultural villages. At present, there are 500 bulls used for fighting on the island, the largest number in Japan. I researched the management of bullfighting matches, the means by which the practice is inherited, and its significance on Tokunoshima Island. Three aspects are covered in this paper.
First, how do people manage bullfights without any support from municipal offices? Around 3, 000 people attend every bullfighting match; 90% are residents of the island. Tourists make up only 1% of spectators. The bullfighting matches are therefore not organized for tourists but mainly for residents. On the day of a match, the spectators pay an entrance fee; promoters share the income after the matches. These matches are a success insofar as they are enjoyed by a large number of residents.
Second, how do people develop an interest in the raising of bulls? I focused on the reason why children, especially adolescents, become interested in bulls. Some teachers state that students should focus on their studies and that bull barns would have a bad influence on them. However, many students take care of bulls for their parents or neighbors regardless of whether their schools allow them to. If a boy can handle a bull well, he will become popular among girls. Bull barns and bullrings are popular spots among some high school students who like to socialize at such places. The owners of bull barns not only teach young people how to handle bulls but also inculcate good values, for example, good manners, kindness to others, and affection for the island. When they become adults, they either continue to work on the island or return to the island from Tokyo, Osaka, and other cities to participate in bullfights. Such individuals then find a job on the island and teach children how to treat bulls and discipline them in the same way that they were instructed.
Third, what is the significance of bullfighting on the Tokunoshima? If a particular bull wins, then the cheer group associated with it runs into the ring and dances. The social status of the owner of this bull then increases among residents. In addition, the residents praise the owner's efforts and luck. Even if the owner is not rich, he will receive respect. Therefore, a bull can raise the social standing of its owner. The winners then arrange a celebration after the match and repeatedly watch recordings of their victories throughout the night. If a group unfortunately loses a match, they hold a dinner to console themselves and raise the spirits of their bull. Irrespective of whether a group wins or loses, they share their emotions and develop good relations with their families and neighbors. To ensure that bullfighting continues over the long term, some local rules have been set. For example, bullfights are not held against the same settlements. Furthermore, the residents of the Tokunoshima value sportsmanship. They promote the motto: “Become friends with your rivals after the match.” Therefore, people make new friends after bullfights.
After researching the inheritance of the practice of bullfighting and its significance, I arrived at these conclusions. Bullfighting plays a role in the education of young people, enhancement of social standing, and the creation of a local identity. The most important point is that young people on Tokunoshima Island do not raise bulls out of a sense of duty but because they want to. Subsequently, when they realize that bull raising
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