If you are interested in Japan, you know the national holiday called “Sports Day” (スポーツの日 / Supo-tsu no Hi). Until now, the name "Health and Sports Day" (体育の日 / Taiiku no Hi) was used, but from 2020 onward, it was renamed to "Sports Day", and in 2020 and 2021, it was moved from the usual second Monday of October to July. What does this holiday mean? What was it enacted for? What are Japanese people doing on this day? In this article, we will introduce the origin and other details.
What is Sports Day?
Sports Day, formerly known as Health and Sports Day, was established to commemorate the brilliant achievements and impressions of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games as a day for people to become familiar with sports and cultivate a healthy mind and body. It was originally set on October 10th, the date of the opening ceremony of the TOKYO 1964 Olympic Games, but since 2000 it has been changed to the current second Monday of October. As a related event, it seems that many schools and groups hold sports festivals during this season.
In addition, the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics was planned to be held in Tokyo again, but due to COVID-19, it was held in 2021, and the word "sports" used around the world will be used to represent the day in order to share the "value of sports" with people around the world. The name of the subsequent “Health and Sports Day” was changed to “Sports Day”. By the way, Sports Day is the only national holiday in Japan that does not have kanji characters and is the first with katakana characters.
What is the difference between sports and "taiiku" (physical education)?
Have you ever thought about the difference between sports and physical education? In terms of the meaning of the word, "physical education" (体育 / taiiku) is an education that aims to promote the healthy development of the body through the practice of appropriate exercise, and to cultivate athletic ability and attitudes toward leading a healthy life. It is a required subject, at schools, etc., and there is a sense of being forced to do it.
On the other hand, "sports" is a general term for physical exercise performed for the purpose of seeking pleasure or competing for victory. In addition to competition, it also includes recreational activities. The role and value of sports, such as voluntarily enjoying themselves and promoting regional and international exchanges through sports, are wider in scope that physical education.
"Sports Day" moved to July in 2020 and 2021
As introduced in the first half, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics was planned for 2020 and actually held in Japan in 2021. The original purpose is to reduce the traffic before and after the opening and closing ceremonies, which attract more tourists and foreign dignitaries, and to make the event run smoothly. Therefore, during such years only, it was moved from the usual second Monday of October to July 24th in 2020 and 23th in 2021. Afterward, the date is set to second Monday of October once again.
If you are interested in Japan's holidays anniversaries, please refer to this article.