The Japanese School Sports Day. The Socio-Cultural Role of a Ritualistic School Event in Contemporary Japan

Peter Mühleder
2014 Vienna journal of East Asian studies  
This paper provides a thorough socio-cultural analysis of Sports Day in Japanese education. Basing myself on contemporary ritual research and Gerard Genette's notion of intertextuality, I describe the ritual 'Sports Day' as a 'cultural palimpsest', a form of practice where new meanings are constantly inscribed or rewritten without the former meanings being completely lost. This allows me to provide a detailed analysis of this school event by incorporating its ever-changing cultural dimensions.
more » ... ince the introduction of the event into Japanese education in the early Meiji period, the most prominent discourses inscribed in Sports Day are elemental questions such as the relationship between the central national authorities and local practices or the problem of individualism and competitiveness in Japanese education. In an ethnographic account of a junior high school Sports Day which is based on my own fieldwork, I show how these discourses provide the framework in which Sports Day is still operated and experienced today.
doi:10.2478/vjeas-2013-0004 fatcat:2jfwanlhurb2vldd7wseqxssgy