Wagaya no Taiiku-no-hi;
Our Sports Day Experience


Taiiku-no-hi, one of Japan’s national holidays, falls on October 10th when the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was held in 1964 (Showa39th yr). Some places still have remaining traces of the Olympics in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectures.

(1) 柔道の日本武道館(東京都千代田区)
(2) 重量挙げの渋谷公会堂(東京都渋谷区)
(3) 体操の東京体育館(東京都渋谷区)
(4) 五輪橋(東京都渋谷区)

(1) judo in Nippon Budokan (Chiyoda, Tokyo)
(2) weightlifting in Shibuya Public Hall (Shibuya, Tokyo)
(3) gymnastics in Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Shibuya, Tokyo)
(4) Olympic Bridge (Shibuya, Tokyo)

(5) 水泳、飛び込みの国立代々木競技場第一体育館(東京都渋谷区)
(6) バスケットボールの国立代々木競技場第二体育館(東京都渋谷区)
(7) 開会式、マラソンの国立霞ヶ丘陸上競技場(東京都新宿区)
(8) クーベルタン男爵・嘉納治五郎先生の碑(東京都新宿区)

(5) swimming and diving in Yoyogi National 1st Gymnasium (Shibuya, Tokyo)
(6) basketball in Yoyogi National 2nd Gymnasium (Shibuya, Tokyo)
(7) the closing ceremony and marathon in National Kasumigaoka Athletic Field (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
(8) monuments of Pierre de Coubertin and Kano Jigoro (Shinjuku, Tokyo)

(9) 競歩のスタート地点の聖徳記念絵画館周辺(東京都新宿区)
(10) フェンシングの早稲田大学記念会堂(東京都新宿区)
(11) サッカーの駒沢オリンピック公園総合運動場陸上競技場(東京都世田谷区)

(9) the starting point of walking races at Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
(10) fencing in Waseda University Memorial Hall (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
(11) soccer in Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium (Setagaya, Tokyo)

(12) 馬術競技の馬事公苑(東京都世田谷区)
(13) カヌーの相模湖(神奈川県相模原市)
(14) ヨットの江ノ島ヨットハーバー(神奈川県藤沢市)

(12) equestrian competitions in Bajikoen (Setagaya, Tokyo)
(13) canoe on Sagami Lake (Sagami, Kanagawa)
(14) yacht at Enoshima Yacht Harbor (Fujisawa, Kanagawa)


Mr. Shitaro Ishihara, the then governor of Tokyo in 2006, advocated Tokyo’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2007, he opened the first Tokyo Marathon as a part of the campaign to be a host in spite of many difficult problems. He advanced by force various campaigns, construction plans and the unveiling of a logo. However, there was an opposition movement against his plan and resistance from some sporting organizations, and what was worse, Japanese people, even people in Tokyo, were not very interested in Tokyo’s bid. At the 121st IOC Session in 2009, Tokyo was defeated by Rio as the result of the vote.


In 2011, Mr. Ishihara again proposed Tokyo as a candidate of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After his retirement from the governorship, the vice-governor became the governor and succeeded Mr. Ishihara’s earnest wish. In 2013, the explanatory meeting of the Olympic Games for IOC was held in Lausanne, Switzerland. On September 7th in the same year, the 125th IOC Session was held, where the speech of Ms. Christel Takigawa, a freelance announcer, caught a lot of attention: she appealed to the heart of Japanese hospitality, “Omotenashi”, in fluent French. I was deeply moved by the passionate speech of Mr. Masato Mizuno, the former president of Mizuno (a major Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company): he made a speech in fluent English with big gestures unlike most Japanese people. The vote after the speeches resulted in Tokyo’s win.


Shortly after people were delighted to be the host country of the 2020 Olympics, however, one problem happened after another. The plan of building the New National Stadium, the main site, designed by a world-famous architect, Ms. Zaha Hadid, was adopted, but it caused harsh criticism because the actualization of her idea would cost huge sums of money; therefore, the plan of the construction was sent back to the drawing board. In December 2015, the result of the re-competition, a famous Japanese architect, Mr. Kengo Kuma’s plan was selected: his building project focused on a modern “Japonism”, and he planned to use domestic wood as part of the construction material. Due to the change of the schedule, the workers were forced to work extensive overtime. In 2017, I walked around its construction site and found it was quieter than I had expected and not so many people and vehicles were seen there.


In July 2015, the modern design of the Olympic and Paralympic official emblems, with a motif of a letter ‘T’, were unveiled, but soon suspicions of plagiarism surfaced, and the use of the emblems was suspended. In April 2016, a new emblem designed by Mr. Asao Noro was selected from the public. His unique and stylish emblems were designed with “Kumi-ichimatsumon”, a combination of Ichimatsu-moyo: a checked pattern alternately arranged with square forms in Japanese traditional indigo blue and white. I really like these emblems because I like Japanese classics.


The political conflict between Mr. Yoshiro Mori, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Ms. Yuriko Koike who was appointed governor of Tokyo in 2016, raised havoc. Ms. Koike’s clever image-building strategy received tremendous support from not only citizens of Tokyo but also a great number of people throughout Japan for a while; however, soon more and more people found her political skills questionable, and recently she has been losing support.


Many places are under construction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Not only facilities associated with the Olympics but also hotels and streets are now being built at a fast pace. A construction boom has caused a business upturn, but, on the other hand, it also causes a labor shortage, the soaring prices of construction materials, noise pollution and traffic congestion.


The special exhibition of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was held as the 90th anniversary event of Toyo-gakuen University’s founding at Hongo Campus in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo in July 2016 (Heisei 28th yr). Mr. Kiichi Aichi, the 6th president of this university contributed to the 1964 Olympics as the Minister of Education and one of the directors of the Olympic Organizing Committee. My husband and I watched the news about this event on TV and decided to go to the university which was only 10 minutes’ drive away. We had our photos taken with an Olympic torch owned by the reference of Toyo-gakuen University in our hands. We felt very nostalgic to see the uniform in red and white, the color of Hinomaru (the Japanese national flag).


Speaking of Taiiku-no-hi, I remember the sports meets of my kindergarten and school days. In the first sports meet of my kindergarten, we danced in a red team and a white team. I belonged to the red team, so I wore a red cap and had red flags. I was sullenly dancing because I didn’t like to appear in front of people. However, my father happily took many photos of me. In the second sports meet of my kindergarten, I joined Karimono-kyoso, a borrowing competition. In the game, we had to borrow a hat, a bucket, a water bottle or other items from someone in the crowd and run with them to a goal. In my elementary school days, sports meets were held twice a year, in spring and in autumn.
Tsuna-hiki, tug-of-war, was one of the most common events. O-dama-hakobi, a big ball carrying event with two poles, was an event which was often held for pupils in the upper grades of elementary school. In the commendation ceremony, the principal handed the championship flag to the leader of the winning team.


In my junior and senior high schools, four teams competed in the sports meets. I belonged to the yellow team, and regrettably, my team didn’t win for six years while I was a high school student. My high school had a tradition that the cheering party in the 12th grade wore gakuran, a boy’s school uniform. Therefore, I wore gakuran, and my friend was the leader of our team, so she wore Haori (a Japanese traditional half coat) and Hakama (a pair of Japanese traditional skirt-like pants). We both wore yellow headbands and cheered for the yellow team.


When my son was in the third grade of elementary school, we moved from the Kansai area to Fukuoka City because of my husband’s job transfer. The athletic meets in Fukuoka were livelier than those of our hometown. People were enjoying the sports day events as if they had been in their hometown festival. I was a little surprised to see some families drink alcohol even in the morning. My son participated in Tamaire, a ball-toss game, which is a standard event for pupils in the lower grades of elementary school. Red and white teams competed against each other by throwing red or white cotton balls into a basket hung high on a pole. The team that throws more balls into the basket will be the winner. When my son danced using a pole with tassels, everyone wore a white cap, but my son wore a red cap. He often made such silly mistakes, even though he looked competent.



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