The Pastimes That People Love

Life isn’t just about working—the Japanese are serious about playing, too. This section offers a look at people who are hooked on their hobbies. Here you’ll find dazzling portraits of men, women, and children pouring themselves passionately into their interests outside the workplace or school.

Go Gateball! Enthusiastic High Schoolers Revive a Fading Sport

Most people think of gateball as a leisurely sport for the elderly to while away a lazy afternoon. Yet even as older Japanese turn increasingly to more diverse pursuits, the popularity of this “made in Japan” competitive game has been edging up among younger Japanese, particularly high-school students. We visited Aomori Yamada High School, known for its strong sports program and world-class alumni athletes, to look in on one of its most recent additions, the Aomori Yamada Gateball Club.

Way of the Sword Remains Exclusive: Kendō’s Largely Local Appeal

The sixteenth World Kendō Championships took place in Tokyo in May 2015, the first time it had been held in Japan for 18 years. Although many people practice kendō around the world, its complexity prevents it from becoming a genuinely popular global sport.

Men’s Rhythmic Gymnastics: A Japan Original

Men’s rhythmic gymnastics, a sport that originated in Japan, brims with energy and strength that enthrall audiences, but the sport remains little known and an uncommon fixture on the athletic scene. The designer Issey Miyake collaborated with the Aomori University Men’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Team to produce a dramatic performance and elevate the sport’s profile.

Can’t Help But Sing of Joy

Year-end performances of the Ninth Symphony are held annually all over Japan, far from Beethoven’s homeland. Odder still, in Japan the chorus is almost always sung in German. What is it about the Ninth that casts such a powerful spell? The writer dropped in on a choral rehearsal to find out.

Related articles

Video highlights

New series

  • From our columnists
  • In the news