Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bullfighting in Japan


This manhole cover is from the town of Tsuma on the island of Dogo, the largest of the Oki Islands which lie off the coast of Shimane. Bullfighting has been a tradition there since the early 13th Century, though Bull Sumo is probably a more accurate title. The bulls lock horns and push. The loser is the one that turns tail and runs away. There is no truth in the rumor that the loser ends up as Oki beef. The story goes that bullfighting began as an entertainment put on for Emperor Gotoba who was exiled to the Oki Islands.
Bullfighting of this style also occurs at several other places in East and South-east Asia.
There are several bullfighting rings on the island, but the Oki Moo Moo Dome is the largest and is covered so bullfighting can be enjoyed whatever the weather.


Nowadays the bulls are raised for fighting, but originally in Japan they were used as beasts of burden, in fact there was a law against killing and eating cows not because of Buddhism, but because they enabled farmers to be more productive. Nowadays Oki beef is known as being particularly tasty, probably because the cows actually get to spend time outside in the sun grazing.

More from the Oki Islands


  1. This site accessed thanks to Rose TANASUGARN. Beautiful photographs!

    Noted the date for your Yabusame photographs as July 6 when it was really mid-April. I was at the same event - about the midway point,

    I was an exchange teacher in Matsue 1991-1992, now in Ube-City in Yamaguchi! Good friends in Gotsu I visited over Golden Week!

    The instructions below are difficult for me to follow so going anonymous. If interested check with Rose about her Yamaguchi friend.

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