“ You Gotta Have WA” is the title of Robert Whiting ‘s best-selling book, in which he observed the characteristic Japanese teammate relations in Yakyu (“baseball “in Japanese language) , namely “the spirit of WA (collective-oriented attitudes)”.
As Whiting , many japanologists have been pointing out the traditional collectivism in Japanese culture, from organized workers’ line in the industrial factories to elementary school pupils’ march in perfect order at an athletic meet.
However, getting a general view of Japanese traditional sport culture, you can be aware of an interesting fact. Among worldly known Japanese traditional sports , as Judo, Sumo, Karate, Kendo and so on, you cannot find “collective” ones.
Now the question arises: Is it true that Japanese are collectivistic traditionally as many japanologists indicate? And if so, in what sense do we have gotta WA?
In this paper, I’ll consider the enigma of this “spirit of WA” in Japanese sport culture from the various points of view, looking around the changing Japanese sport scenes.
The concept of ‘physical fitness’ was not popular in the development of health idea in pre-modern Japan. Yojo was the fundamental idea for preserving health and prolonging one’s life before Meiji restoration. It is traditional concept which has influenced people attempt to improve their health and total quality of life in Asian societies. During the Edo period(1603-1867), publications of Yojo-ron gradually increased.
The new government established in Meiji era adopted the concept of Eisei（it is the meaning of ‘hygiene’） instead of Yojo . Under the idea of hygiene, physical fitness was considered as a concept of indicating how the people were able to work. In the later of Meiji Period, principles of Yojo and Eisei were extended to include the affairs of society and state. ITO.Shigeru, wrote a text on Yojo titled The Philosophy of Yojo(Yojo Tetsugaku). Ito earnestly stated in his writings that the national government had to perform the ‘Yojo of the state (Kokka no Yojo)’. GOTO.Shinpei, the director of Bureau of Hygiene, originated the theory of health care and health administration for the fulfillment of ‘Fukoku Kyohei’ (national prosperity and strength) in one of his main works The principle of Hygiene for the state (Kokka-Eisei-Genri) with the backing of strong political power. The basic principles of hygiene during the Meiji Period were based primarily on social Darwinism and social revolution theory.
On the other hand, the aspect of thinking about the entire people’s health became an opportunity to receive the idea of social hygiene that purposed to make their health levels equal. TERUOKA.Gito, pointed out the necessity of fulfillment of labor’s fitness power from view point of development as industrial country. Under the World War Ⅱ, Teruoka had recognized that labors were resources of the nation and insisted physical fitness of labors was also military power in Japan.
The change of mainstream from social hygiene to public health in Japan was influenced with the public health policy of the United States basically gave priority to preventive medicine and health education. The characteristics gradually developed to the movement of ‘health promotion’ as the international movement of public health. Under the situation, the problem of physical fitness have been individualized toward the context of prevention of life style related diseases and personal active life. It is essential to reconsider the social and cultural aspects of physical fitness under such the circumstance.
A global environmental crisis makes the survival of human beings dangerous externally. Moreover, recently, it is warned that the inner environment of human beings, namely, physical fitness raises crisis inside our bodies. Although physical fitness is discussed and set as an object of policies here and there now, the concept of physical fitness itself is still indefinite. Even though the body theory has been a boom, physical fitness has never been examined as a social science. So far physical fitness is defined as "the physical capability which suppports the basis of various human activities." Therefore, physical fitness differs individually by an age stage, and sex difference, physique difference and also occupations. Moreover, there are two dimensions in physical fitness. They are the "defensive physical fitness" which implies resistance, and the other is "active physical fitness" which implies more active power. The latter connotes the former, it is pointed out that not only the latter but also the former of children are made vulnerable. The fall of active physical fitness of the adults is shown by the increase of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases, etc. They are depend on two causes, the one is over-taken calorie beyond necessity, and the other is the calorie consumption below necessity.
The history of human beings formed as an example “ingestion = consumption 2200 Kcal” as a biological law.The history means “little ingestion: excessive consumption” of calorie, that is, the deficient state has been constantly experienced in long history. As a part of educaton to make nations, a cultivaton of physical fitness of the whole people became a national policy subject in a new nation-state. Even though, “little ingestion: excessive consumption” of calori had been still fundamental. However, in the advanced nations which accomplished high economic growth, “excessive ingestion: little consumption” of carolie balance has replaced the former deficient state, and caused a new crisis. Of course, they are ruled by a social structure.
Two technological innovations were attracted in Beijing Olympic Games. The one is the Laser Racer of Speed Company and the other is the artificial legs of handicapped sprinter, Oscar Pistorius. The former produced many world records in swimming races and the latter is better than normal legs of ordinary persons in sprinting. Laser Racer is not swimming wear but the gear because of needing more than 30 minutes for dressing it and constricting the body for making stream-line of it. Artificial legs of Pistorius are no longer assistant tools but promoting units. These innovations foretaste some new types of sporting body in the near future, android- or cyborg-athletes, and propose the significant theme of sport sociology on the relation of physical power and technology.
Generalizing of sporting body historically, we can find three models, Fighter, Sportsman, and Athlete, in the metamorphosis. Fighter was an armed body by military technology in ancient Greece, sportsman was an educated body by moral technology in England, and Athlete is a specialized body for the sport by sport technology. These sporting bodies symbolized the ideal types of the technologicalized flesh in each age.
The concept of Physical power was innovated as an abstract concept for the needs of abstract labor and abstract armed force, and was embodied through physical examination and draft examination. The success of this conceptualizing transmitted the relation of body and technology from technology for the body to body for the technology. From the view point of this context, sporting body may be modeled as any cyber-athlete in cyberspace in the near future.
This paper aims to reexamine the concept of “Ikiru Chikara” emphasized in the Curriculum Guidelines for Elementary Schools (2002) set by Japan’s education ministry (MEXT). By examining both the guidelines and the report by the Central Council for Education, we learn that the concept of “Ikiru Chikara”—which literally means “power to live”, but has been translated as “zest for living” by MEXT—involves not only the cultivation of richness of mind, but also the enhancement of moral consciousness and physical strength. In order to clarify the interrelationship among these three elements in the concept, we introduce a socioanthropological perspective regarding the personal orientations and the natures of vitality: a) aspiration to improve the present self; b) tendency to utilize human relationship for self-interest; c) inclination to dissolve oneself into the outside world. At the juncture of a) and b), we find the “ability for sustaining one’s existence”; at the juncture of a) and c), the “vital energy.” When we review the concept of “Ikiru Chikara,” it is revealed that the concept is chiefly concerned, not with the “vital energy”, but with the “ability for sustaining one’s existence.” For socializing children, the teacher’s roles as mediator between these terms could be divided into three: 1) keeping children’s ability for sustaining their existence under surveillance; 2) nurturing the same ability in children; 3) nurturing the vital energy in children. While the guidelines encourage teachers to shift their role from 1) to 2), it is the role 3) that is most required in Japan’s contemporary education.
Endurance sports that involve long time suffering and the experience of overcoming it are valuable practices for self-affirmation. Each of the triathlete respondents has a personalized purpose for being involved in triathlon training and competition, and these practices are based on self-other relationships that they call “peers”. As far as the respondents are concerned they dislike common group structures such as a group name or a membership list. Therefore, it is difficult for an outsider to discover the inclusiveness of their relationships.
This study is concerned about how respondents construct and expand mutual bonds that are meaningful for their practice. Methodologically, I presume that the triathletes’ “peer” interactions are forms of “reciprocity”. The interactions signify how they support one another during training and competitions. The purpose of this study is to describe the bonds of “peer” relationships by tracking the memory and accumulation of triathletes’ reciprocal interactions.
The research results show that the respondents continually recognize one another’s diversity as revealed by the individualized orientations of their practices. This research indicates that recognizing one another’s diversity is important for continuing endurance sports as a meaningful self-affirmative practice. I conclude that the triathletes’ “peer” relationships are regarded as symbiotic practices of being “autonomous” subjects: people who are different from being isolated and just following others. From such characteristics of “peer”relationships I expect to find a possibility to explain a positive factor for continual participation in today's various sports activities.