Taiiku No Hi

Today is Taiiku No Hi, the Japanese national “Health and Sports” holiday. As this is one of the recurring Happy Mondays, I have written about it before; and because I don’t want to repeat myself, here is a nice old photo depicting a traditional Japanese sport: Hanetsuki gameThe two girls are playing hanetsuki, a form of Badminton, albeit without a net. The goal is to keep the hane – the shuttlecock made from a little hard ball and a few feathers – in the air as long as possible, using only the wooden hagoita. The game is usually played by girls around New Year’s, and the longer the hane remains in the air, the longer the protection thus incurred will last. These days, the game itself is less popular, but the hagoita are still sold. Traditionally their backs show famous Kabuki actors or other celebrities. Hanetsuki can be played by many people, or by one person, but woe befalls the one who drops the hane – her face will be marked with black ink!

The photo above was taken by Kusakabe Kimbei (1841–1934), a Japanese photographer.