Quake Area to Dedicate Bullfights to Retiring Emperor, Empress

Society

Nagaoka, Niigata Pref. April 23 (Jiji Press)--Traditional bullfighting will be performed on Sunday as a special event in the Yamakoshi district in Nagaoka in the central prefecture of Niigata to express gratitude to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko ahead of the Emperor's abdication at the end of this month.

Tomie Matsui, 37-year-old head of the Yamakoshi bullfighting group organizing the event, expressed gratitude to the Imperial couple for continuing to care about the area, devastated by a huge earthquake in October 2004 that claimed 68 lives in total.

Only two weeks after the 6.8-magnitude temblor, which measured up to 7, the highest reading on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, in the prefecture, the Emperor and Empress visited shelters where local residents had taken refuge, encouraging them to join hands to rebuild their village.

The quake left deep scars. The area lost about half of its 70 cattle due to collapsed sheds and other quake-related damage, leading it to cancel bullfighting performances, called "ushi no tsunotsuki," or butting horns.

It took three and a half years before the tradition, designated an important intangible folk cultural property by the Japanese government, could be resumed in Yamakoshi.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press