Japanese Sports: A History

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University of Hawaii Press, 2001 - History - 307 pages
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In this first synthetic, comprehensive survey of Japanese sports in English, the authors are attentive to the complex and fascinating interaction of traditional and modern elements. In the course of tracing the emergence and development of sumo, the martial arts, and other traditional sports from their origins to the present, they demonstrate that some cherished ancient traditions were, in fact, invented less than a century ago. They also register their skepticism about the use of the samurai tradition to explain Japan's success in sports. Special attention is given to Meiji-era Japan's frequently ambivalent adoption and adaptation of European and American sports--a particularly telling example of Japan's love-hate relationship with the West. The book goes on the describe the history of physical education in the school system, the emergence of amateur and professional leagues, the involvement of business and the media in sports promotion, and Japan's participation in the Olympics.

Japanese Sports Trivia Quiz

(openli)Japan's first professional baseball team was founded in 1921. When were the Central and Pacific Leagues established?

a. 1930; b. 1940; c. 1950; d. 1960

(openli)Oh Sadaharu hit 51 home runs in 1973 and 49 in 1974. How many did he hit in his lifetime?

a. 597; b. 602; c. 755; d. 868

(openli)Sugiura Tadashi pitched 42 games for the Nankai

Hawks in 1959 and won 38. How many games did he pitch and win against

the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Series that same year?

a. 1; b. 2; c. 3; d. 4

(openli)The first Japanese radio broadcast of an entire

sports event occurred at the national middle-school baseball tournament

at Koshien Stadium in 1927, with a Ministry of Communication censor

standing by since the script couldn't be approved in advance. The

national middle-school tournament was suspended in 1941. When was it


a. 1945; b. 1946; c. 1947; d. 1948

(openli)In 1791 Shogun Tokugawa Ienari observed a new

ring-entering ceremony similar to that now performed by yokozuna. When

did the Sumo Association officially recognize the rank of yokozuna?

a. 1789; b. 1890; c. 1909; d. 1951

(openli)Which famous sumo rikishi won 69 successive bouts over the course of 7 tournaments, the longest winning streak ever recorded?

a. Futabayama (Sadaji); b. Wakanohana (Kanji); c. Taiho (Koki); d. Chiyonofuji (Mitsugu)

(openli)When the first karate dojo was established in Okinawa in 1889, the characters for karate were written 'Chinese hand'. When were they first written 'empty hand'?

a. 1889; b. 1922; c. 1929; d. 1935

(openli)Only one major school of aikido holds competitive tournaments. When did the name aikido first appear on the list of government-sanctioned martial arts.

a. 1883; b. 1890; c. 1931; d. 1942

(openli)In 1951 Tanaka Shigeki became the first Japanese runner to win the Boston Marathon. When was the first Fukuoka Marathon held?

a. 1927; b. 1937; c. 1947; d. 1957

(openli)At the infamous 1936 Nazi Olympics in Berlin,

Japanese athletes won gold medals in track and field, swimming, and

diving. In what event did a Korean win the gold for Japan?

a. marathon; b. triple jump; c. pole vau

Answers: 1. c. (the Pacific League was the expansion

league); 2. d. (Japanese ballparks are shorter than U.S. parks, but the

season is also shorter); 3. d. (his arm never recovered from that year);

4. b.; 5. c. (the rank yokozuna first appeared on the banzuke ratings

in 1890; and the first solo ring-entering ceremonies by wrestlers

wearing the yokozuna rope was in 1789); 6. a.; 7. c. (by members of

Keio's karate club who were impressed by a Zen priest of the Rinzai

sect); 8. d. (its founder Ueshiba Morihei was born in 1883); 9. c. (the

year after the first footrace around Lake Biwa); 10. a.


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Perfect! So thoughtful


Sumo Ball Games and Feats of Strength
Martial Techniques
The Arrival and Diffusion of Western Sports
The Modernization of Indigenous Sports
From Taisho Democracy to Japanese Fascism
Rising from the Ashes
New Directions

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Page 8 - War, policy, and other contingent circumstances, may effectually place men, at different times, in different points of view, but, when we follow them into their retirements, where no disguise is necessary, we are most likely to see them in their true state, and may best judge of their natural dispositions.
Page 4 - When qualitative distinctions fade and lose their force, we turn to quantitative ones. When we can no longer distinguish the sacred from the profane or even the good from the bad, we content ourselves with minute discriminations between the batting average of the .308 hitter and the .307 hitter.

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About the author (2001)

Allen Guttmann is professor of American studies at Amherst College. His many books include "The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games, Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism" (Columbia), and a translation of Peter Khnst's "Sports: A Cultural History in the Mirror of Art." He lives in Leverett, Massachusetts.

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