Sport, Memory and Nationhood in Japan: Remembering the Glory Days

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Andreas Niehaus, Christian Tagsold
Routledge, Sep 13, 2013 - Sports & Recreation - 158 pages

This book clarifies and verifies the role sport has as an alternative marker in understanding and mapping memory in Japan, by applying the concept of lieux de mémoire (realms of memory) to sport in Japan. Japanese history and national construction have not been short of sports landmarks since the end of the nineteenth century. Western-style sports were introduced into Japan in order to modernize the country and develop a culture of consciousness about bodies resembling that of the Western world. Japan’s modernization has been a process of embracing Western thought and culture while at the same time attempting to establish what distinguishes Japan from the West. In this context, sports functioned as sites of contested identities and memories. The Olympics, baseball and soccer have produced memories in Japan, but so too have martial arts, which by their very name signify an attempt to create traditions beyond Western sports. Because modern sports form bodies of modern citizens and, at the same time, offer countless opportunities for competition with other nations, they provide an excellent ground for testing and contesting national identifications. By revealing some of the key realms of memory in the Japanese field of sports, this book shows how memories and counter-memories of (sport) moments, places, and heroes constitute an inventory for identity.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Sport in Society.


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About the author (2013)

Andreas Niehaus is head of the Department of South and East Asian Studies at Ghent University, Belgium and has published on judo, the history of sports and body culture in Japan.

Christian Tagsold is research fellow at the Institute for Modern Japan, Dusseldorf University, Germany. He has published on Tokyo Olympics 1964, aging society in Japan, Japanese Gardens in the West and Japanese diasporas.

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