Health and Sports Day
|Health and Sports Day|
|Official name||Health and Sports Day|
|Also called||Health-Sports Day
|Significance||commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo|
|Date||Second Monday in October|
|2012 date||October 8|
|2013 date||October 14|
|2014 date||October 13|
Health and Sports Day (体育の日 Taiiku no hi), also known as Health-Sports Day or Sports Day, is a national holiday in Japan held annually on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the opening of the 1964 Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo, and exists to promote sports and an active lifestyle.
History and current practice 
The first Health and Sports Day was held on October 10, 1966, two years after the 1964 Summer Olympics. October was chosen for the unusually late Summer Olympics to avoid the Japanese rainy season, and Health and Sports Day continues to be one of the fairest days of the year.
As Health and Sports Day is a day to promote sports and physical and mental health, many schools and businesses choose this day to hold their annual Field Day (運動会 Undō-kai ), or sports day. This typically consists of a range of physical events ranging from more traditional track-and-field events such as the 100 metres or 4 x 100 metres relay to more uncommon events such as the tug of war and the Mock Cavalry Battle (騎馬戦 Kiba-sen).
Most communities and school across Japan celebrate Sports Day with a sports festival which is similar to a mini Olympics. These festivals include many of the traditional track and field events, such as 4 x 100m relay, 100m sprinting, and long jump, as well as many other events. Some of the events include: ball toss, tug-o-war, rugby-ball dribbling races, sack races, and so on. Another common event is often simply called the “exciting relay”, which is an obstacle course relay including any number of different challenges: Three-legged races, making a stretcher with a blanket and bamboo poles and then carrying an “injured” teammate, laundry hanging, crawling on hands and knees under a net, and doing cartwheels across a mat.
The festival usually begins around 8:30 am with a parade featuring all the different teams that will be participating: it could be divided by neighbourhood, class, geographic area, or school. There is sometimes a local marching band providing music. Once the parade has gone around the field and lined up in the middle, the band will play Kimigayo and the Japanese flag will be raised. Local officials will make speeches welcoming everyone. Often everyone will spread out across the grounds for group stretching (this stretching routine was developed by the government and is done daily by many Japanese people; the stretching routine music is broadcast daily on the radio and TV). Then it is time to start the events.
Every event has prizes for the winners, usually something useful for around the house such as boxes of tissues, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, saran wrap, wax paper, cooking oil and so on. Around 12:00 noon, the events will take a pause for lunch and sometimes traditional dancing. Lunch is usually a Bentō (lunchbox), typically including rice, fish, stewed vegetables, sushi, onigiri (rice balls) and other small Japanese treats.
As with the Olympics, the final event of the day is the 4 x 100m relay or 100m sprint. Following this, the points totals are tallied and the ending ceremony involves congratulatory speeches by local officials and the handing out of prizes to the top teams.
- Kid's Web Japan: Sports Day, retrieved November 21, 2005
- Consulate General of Japan in New York: Health Sports Day in Japan, retrieved November 21, 2005