If you are a health buff who likes playing sports, spending the whole day sweating your fat off and enjoys living an active lifestyle, this holiday is for you!
The first ever Health and Sports day in Japan was held on October 10, 1966, to commemorate the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. In the year 2000, it was moved to the second Monday of October under Japan’s Happy Monday System. They have chosen to celebrate it during the month of October to avoid the Japanese rainy season so that everybody can come out and enjoy the sun. In Japanese, this holiday is called Taiiku no Hi.
Japan is one of the few countries to have a public holiday celebrating Sports. Japan doesn’t only celebrate the aesthetic beauty of their country through colorful and traditional festivals; they also have holidays that give importance to physical activities, fitness, and health in order to develop a sound mind and a sound body. On this day, everyone in Japan including business establishments, schools, and other offices encourage their members to participate. Most of the elementary and middle schools also schedule their Field or Sports Day activities on the same day.
The sporting culture is strong in Japanese society. Most schools schedule a Sports Day, also called Field Day, several times a year. These Sports Days are called undokai in Japanese. As mentioned above, many schools set their Sports Day to be on the same day as the official Taiiku no Hi. Others, due to local weather conditions, schedule their Sports Day on a different day. Then this event happens during the Saturday or Sunday in Japanese schools. Like any other important event; Japanese students spend a lot of time preparing long before the event. They spend many days practicing for their presentations and events because their parents and friends are surely going to watch.
One of the most popular segments is a game called Tamaire. Tamaire is a game traditionally played by elementary school children at sports festivals. It takes about 200 stuffed balls, two baskets, and two poles to hold the baskets. The balls are more like beanbags. A number of children can participate although the official rules limit the number to 6 players. The winner is determined by seeing how many balls can be thrown into each basket within a time limit.
Aside from the school happenings, it is also expected that people will also watch sporting events such as the traditional track and field, which include the 100-meter event and the exciting tug of war. Much of the population of Japan is very interested in sports, so much so that they look forward to Sports Day as a mini Olympics.
Another unique competition that people in Japan are excited to play is called Mock Cavalry Battle. In this game, four people will be on each team. One rider will ride the other three. The designated rider wears a hat or a headband. The battle is to be the first to remove your opponent’s headband, as losing the headband means defeat.
Thus, the purpose of this health and sports day aside from promoting a healthy lifestyle is to uphold unity and camaraderie among the people in Japan. The purpose behind this activity is that the government wants to build cooperation, harmony, and a sense of solidarity among their people and to make their nation as one.