chapter  48
Japanese Sport: From Heian Kyo to Tokyo Olympiad
Pages 15

ALTHOUGH Japanese archaeologists have excavated stone tools and pottery which are more than 10,000 years old no written accounts of Japanese life were compiled before the first century. At that time Chinese chroniclers recorded many features of Japanese society, but their writings reveal little of activities which could be defined as ‘recreation’ or ‘sport’.1 Some six centuries later Chinese travellers began to describe common Japanese pastimes and emphasised the many similarities which linked them to Chinese forms of popular entertainment. The History of the Sui Dynasty, which was edited between 629 and 636, states:

On the first day of the first month it is customary for them to have archery contests, and to play games and drink liquor; their other festivals are in general identical with those of the Chinese. They like chess, betting, juggling and dice games.2