Health and Sports Day

While the members of the Commonwealth are at the Games in Delhi what is Japan doing to keep fit?

Today is the second Monday of October and in Japan this means Health and Sports Day – Taiiku no hi. It was established in 1966 to commemorate the 1964 Summer Olympic Games held in Tokyo. Why the second Monday of October? Well, it was selected to avoid the rainy season and for the late summer. Plus people can enjoy a three day weekend.

Health and Sports Day is exactly what it is about: a day to promote sports and mental/physical health through participation in sports and exercise.  It also helps build up bonds between people in organisations. Many schools and organisations organise sports days and choose this day to have them.

A day starts with a parade featuring different teams taking part, the national anthem and then radio taiso – the stretching exercise that Beat Takeshi does in Battle Royale. Here’s a friendlier clip:

Radio taiso was created by the Japanese government after World War II and usually played over a speaker from a radio with music to accompany the exercises.  As well as Battle Royale, Haruki Murakami wrote about it, a small scene, in Norwegian Wood.

Anyway, here’s a video to give you a better idea:

Actual events range from three legged races and 100 metres to obstacle courses and tug of war. The final event of the day is the 4 x 100m relay of the 100, sprint and then points are tallied before prizes are handed out by public officials from the community.

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