The present paper discusses a concept of “ethnic sport” and its research perspectives. Ethnic sport means the play and games which are practiced by a fixed ethnic group or in a fixed society, and relates more or less to the traditional culture, so contributes to identity building. Ethnic sport therefore looks to the ethnicity, and faces international sport such as the Olympics which looks to global standardization. However both were invented or discovered equally in the huge globalization current of the last two centuries. Ethnic sport has been studied from the different ethnological or cultural- anthropological theoretical models such as evolutionalism, diffusionalism, acculturation, structural-functionalism, symbolism and so on. Recently approaches from identity, tourism, ethnoscience body theory have attracted scholars.
Bukh is a Mongolian traditional sport, in which the wrestler's body represents a beast and a bird of prey, namely supernatural strength. This is recognized as a numinous embodiment or spiritual possession. In the meantime, the incarnation rite of Bukh also functions as that of the community of Nutag. The symbolism of Bukh, in this meaning, is realized in two ritual spaces, the Ovoo festival whose cultural background lies in Nutag and Naadam which is performed as a ceremony. Moreover, the combination between Ovoo and Naadam festivals and Bukh serves a function as a mechanism to sustain collective memories and identity, perpetuating the identity of the Mongolians.
Taiwan was the first area to come under Japanese Imperial rule. This study examines the cultural changes of the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan, the Puyuma in Chihpen, through their colonial experience by taking their sumo practice as an example. At Taitung city, Chihpen, ethnic sports such as long distance running, sumo, and traditional dance are performed in the “Xiao mi ji (millet festival)” in July every year. Of particular note is the existence of the “Dohyo (sumo ring)” in sumo. This form of sumo is the result of the cultural interaction made with the Japanese from the time of their first contact. This cultural interaction led the Puyuma to come a new appreciation of their own “traditional” culture and identity, which continues to this day. It came to have a new appreciation as their “tradition”, and has also resulted by the end of today after the war. It can be said that Chihpen sumo has departed from the history of colonializm and has developed into its own unique ethnic sport.
This study examines the evolution of ethnic sports in Korea since the birth of the nation in August 1948. Two players who had a key role in the evolutionary process will be considered separately, the government and the people who actually took part in the ethnic sports, and their respective purposes of being involved in ethnic sports will be analyzed by focusing on the National Folk Arts Festival. The results are as follows. The National Folk Arts Festival was inaugurated by the government, in which ethnic sports and folk dances have been exhibited and competed in by people from across the country. It has been carried through to the present day. In 1961, it was decided that the event would be held regularly for the preservation and promotion of Korean ethnic sports under the guidance of the government. Regional preliminary contests for the national tournament were inaugurated to realize the nationwide organization of the festival. With this background, it is assumed that the festival has functioned as a cultural drive to develop Korean national identity. In contrast, people who participate in the festival have responded to the cultural policy of the government in their own way. It can be stated that the ethnic sports have become a part of national culture through the involvement of both the government and the people.
Traditional spring festivals known as kagihiki (tug-of-war with wooden poles) are held around the Osumi Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture. Across the different regions of the peninsula there are many similarities in the methods of practicing kagihiki, but there are also many differences. The differences may tell us about the evolution of kagihiki. The spring festival known as Uchiue-matsuri goes like this: a Shinto priest and his ujiko (shrine parishoners) ‘cultivate’ the grounds of the shrine, acting as if they were rice fields; they cultivate the ground using an ox plow (called a moga) and ‘sow’ rice seeds to pray for a good harvest. Kagihiki is part of this festival. There are several types of kagihiki. In one type, a pair of forked or trident branches or young trees are cut and shaped into two long kagi (poles with hooked ends), a male kagi and a female kagi; these are then hooked together and a large number of people compete in a tug-of-war. In another type, a pair of short kagi is used in a tug-of-war involving a small number of people. Another variation involves the hooking together of kagi but there is no tug of war — instead they are dragged around the shrine grounds. In one further variation, there is no differentiation between the male kagi and the female kagi, but there is a tug-of-war involving a large number of people. Many regions have discontinued the spring festival due to the shortage of participants and even stopped practicing kagihiki. However, today there are still eight regions where kagihiki is carried out. From survey reports of these continuing events, we will examine the differences between them in order to clarify the evolution of kagihiki.
Traditional boat races are held all over the world. They are popular in East Asia as well as South East Asia. Especially, southern China, Taiwan and the western areas and south east islands of Japan can be cited. Among them, Okinawa and Nagasaki are famous for boat races. The boat races there are termed as Hari and Pearon. Both of them are originally influenced by China, and have been held since much earlier times. The boat races whose ancestry is different from Hari and Peiron exist in Japan. Those boat races competed in traditional Japanese-style boats were once frequently carried out in the areas centering on western Japan. While paddles are used as a tool for propulsion in Hari and Peiron, ro is used in the traditional Japanese boat races. Ro was the most popular tool for propulsion in Japan. The areas where Japanese-style boat race was flourishing are in northern Kyushu. One of the areas is Tsushima Island that is located closest to the Korean Peninsula. In Tsushima, people have been familiar with the boat race, calling the boat race ‘Funagoro’. Boats were regarded as valuable as human's life in the island which is surrounded on all four sides by the sea. Boats were indispensable to people's lives. Up until the pre-war period, Tsushima's main industry was agriculture rather than fishery. Boats in Tsushima were used for agriculture. Therefore, they were larger than fishing boats in their size. The boat race was conducted using those boats. The boat race in Tsushima was held as a ritual and an event wishing for rain in draught. Characteristic of the race in Tsushima is that the attendants in the race were limited to the first boy, namely an heir, of native families of the island. Those families were labeled as ‘Honko’. As Tsushima is situated on a country's border, the boat race implied militaristic factors. Although the boat races had been frequently seen till around the thirtieth year of Showa era (1955), they gradually dwindled along with decrease of wooden boats. At present, the boat races remain in only several places of the island. They have been continued as an event of the summer festival.
In this paper, I consider bullfighting in Nanyo (the southern region of Ehime Prefecture) from the point of view of tradition and acculturation. The tradition of bullfighting originated in the encounter between Misho Ushi (Cows produced in the Misho region) and people in the Minami Uwa region, who hit upon the idea of turning grazing bulls into objects of amusement. Bullfighting in earlier times was a simple pastime that farmers enjoyed by themselves. They would bring their bulls to a spot between hills, a dry river bed, or the like, where they could enjoy this activity. With the objective of easing the economic burden on the bull owners, farmers began charging an entrance fee for spectators and would give the owners “fight money”. This occurred in the latter half of the 19th century. It was the beginning of bullfighting shows. Bullfighting became a rather popular sport, similar to Ozumo (Professional sumo wrestling). It also became an increasingly lucrative business. However, the decline of agriculture from 1952 on caused a reduction in this activity. Bulls used for fighting lost their function as work cows, whose numbers decreased sharply, because of their use in the sport. Bullfighting also declined gradually, due to the fact that keeping bulls only for sport was limited to the wealthy. However, thanks to a tourism boom in the 1960's, it made a bit of a come back. The government of the Uwajima district considered bullfighting, which became famous with the help of the mass media, a tourism resource, and also labored for its reorganization and improvement. A bullfighting dome constructed in 1975 became the symbol of Uwajima's “Bullfighting Street”. On the other hand, the people of the Minami Uwa district, who have maintained bullfighting in their own independent organization, don't abide by Uwajima's tourism policy. They continue with close local relationships. In conclusion, there is a difference between the Uwajima district, where the customs have changed to favor tourism, and the Minami Uwa district, where management has remained private in order to maintain tradition. In general, the future of bullfighting in Nanyo (the southern region of Ehime Prefecture) has many problems, such as a lack of fighting bulls and successors. It is for this reason and many more that the outlook for the sport is very dim.
The Wild Horse Chase in Soma called Soma Nomaoi, which has a 1000-year history, is a traditional sport that has existed overcoming many challenges to its survival and changing its style repeatedly as it adjusted to the changing historical periods. It has also become an important source for tourism. The style and tradition of the Nomaoi developed by the Soma clan in Oshu was established by around 1700, and has been held as a sacred ritual by three shrines, Nakamura, Ota and Odaka. Originally a samurai festival, a change in organizers prompted the inclusion of commoners. A lack of the wild horses also caused the festival to evolve into the contest for the sacred banners. Nomaoi was once dedicated to the god Myoken; however, it is treated as a sacred festival for the god Ame no minaka nushi no mikoto. The scheduling of the festival has also changed to make accommodate the practicalities of modern life while focusing on the inheritance of traditional culture. The cavalry that carries out the festival and the audience that observe the festival also play roles which dramatize the tradition of the festival.
This report examines the current practice of the Scramble for Shingi and cultural change in the Eyou ceremony performed at the Saidaiji-kannon-in temple. In the Kechigan-bi day ceremony, on the final day of worship, an event from ancient times called Shushoe takes place. In it, shirtless men in Shimekomi scramble for a natural medicine called “Goou”, and this is called “Eyou”. The participant who gets the Shingi will become a Fuku-otoko, a man blessed with honor and fortune throughout his life. The object of Scramble for Shingi is to place the Shingi into a square box. The Scramble for Shingi can be considered a free fight group ball game, a competition to put a ball into a fixed goal, such as Rugby and American football. The Eyou has been held without interruption for over 480 years, and its form has been affected by changes in social conditions throughout its history. The Scramble for Shingi, a component of the Eyou, is no exception. It has evolved along with social changes throughout its history.
The kite is a toy made of a thin bamboo frame covered with paper, that you fly in the air at the end of attached long strings. One of how to play kite is trying to drop other kite by cutting the string of it. It is called “kite battle”. Kite battles are popular in Japan. In this paper, I consider the tradition and the transformation of Sanjo-Ika-gassen (the Sanjo great kite battle) as one example of kite battle in Japan. Sanjo-Ika-gassen is a kite battle with big hexagon kite. It takes place on the first weekend of June In Sanjo city, Niigata Prefecture. Hexagon kite is original style of this area and can carry easily by drawing out the bone and rolling it. Therefore this style kite is called Rokkaku-Ika (hexagon kite), Maki-Ika (rollable kite), and Rokkaku-Maki-Ika (rollable hexagon kite). Participants of Sanjo-Ika-gassen have pride at the birthplace of hexagon kite as their tradition. The other hand, they are trying to transform the Sanjo-Ika-gassen into resource for tourism. Sanjo-Ika-gassen is a good example of Japanese ethnic sport aiming at coexisting of preservation and transformation of tradition.
Focusing on the Kanto Skill Contest in Akita, this study intends to clarify the process of making the Kanto performance a competitive event and discuss how this traditional event has changed during the process. The Kanto-kai (Kanto Society) was founded in 1931 with the aim of improving skill in the Kanto performance. In the same year, the annual Myogi-kai (Kanto Skill Contest) started. At first, there were no established scoring rules for the contest, and scoring for Kanto performances depended mainly on the subjective judgment of the contest judges. Eventually, as the Kanto gradually became known throughout Japan to the extent that Kanto Festival came to attract tourists from not only Akita but also various other prefectures, scoring rules were established. In 1980, the Kanto event was designated as a national important intangible folk cultural heritage. This led to an expansion of the scale of the contest and created a gap between people's understanding of the Kanto as a representative folk event in Japan and then the state of the Kanto which was in the process of transforming into a competitive event. As long as the Kanto remains competitive, its traditional aspect may figure less prominently than it has in the past. Through an examination of their policies, this study has revealed how the Kanto Society has dealt with such problems in order to maintain the Kanto tradition.
Falconry is one of the most traditional co-hunting styles of Japan. Public patronage began in the 4th century; it was the exclusive preserve of nobles and feudal lords until the 19th Century. The culture especially flourished in the 17th to 19th centuries under the family of the Tokugawa shogun. Some 1,600 km2 of Edo (presently Tokyo) served as a falconry preserve (Otakaba). Because all hunting of animals was prohibited inside of it, Otakaba also served the role of game preserve. After the Meiji Restoration, the Otakaba system lapsed and falconers lost their jobs. As the Edo area developed, new foreign customs changed the Japanese life style. The Imperial Household Ministry (presently Imperial Household Agency) preserved falconry as a time-honored art on the wishes of the Emperor Meiji. Falconers trained hawks and falcons, and worked at duck netting preserves (Kamoba). But following World War II, all this traditional hunting has ceased. On the other hand, private falconry activity is opening up. After his retirement from the Imperial Household Agency, Mr. Kaoru Hanami was invited by his pupils to become the president of The Japanese Falconers Association. He taught them to carry on the art of falconry that had been handed down to him, the Suwa hawking school, which is one of the most traditional styles. In his school, the hawk was considered to be an avatar that should be respected, but modern people did not understand or think that way. Because of his concern about the tendency of the people to look down on hawks as pets or mere hunting tools, he propounded a coined expression, “Jinyoh-Ittai” (man and hawk as one) to build a relationship of equality. There are other schools and dedicated groups that are trying to do sports falconry, and many clubs organized by pet owners in Japan. Also, in recent years, development of telemetry systems promises to make falconry more efficient.