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LastUpDate: July 9, 2015
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Hakata Culture vol.101


Fukuoka's National Judo and Kendo Tournaments

Fukuoka’s National Judo and Kendo Tournaments image

Martial arts clubs have always been a mainstay of Japanese high schools, and two of the more popular ones are judo and kendo. Many children learn judo and kendo at small training centers, or dojos, throughout the city. But did you know that two of the biggest high school martial arts tournaments, the Kinshuki and the Gyokuryuki, are held in Fukuoka every summer?

The former is a judo tournament sponsored by Nishinippon Shimbun and the Kyushu Judo Association, while the latter is a kendo championship sponsored by Nishinippon Shimbun and the Kyushu Kendo Association. Both are held in late July at Marine Messe, with the Gyokuryuki following the Kinshuki. The tournaments are split into boys' and girls' divisions, and respectively, they are counted among the top three national tournaments for high school students.

You may find it strange that two tournaments sponsored by a local newspaper company and regional martial arts associations are some of the most important in Japan, but there is a reason for this-the method of participation. To participate in most national tournaments, athletes first have to win in the regional qualifying matches, but there are no qualifiers for the Kinshuki and the Gyokuryuki, so any school that wants to send players can. Every year, several hundred schools send representatives, and more recently, student athletes from overseas have even started participating.

The precursor to the Kinshuki and the Gyokuryuki started in the Taisho era. Initially only participants from within Fukuoka Prefecture could compete, but over the years, the tournament began accepting participating schools from other prefectures. In this way, the twin competitions are the embodiment of Fukuoka's friendly, open atmosphere. With a large number of participating schools, the tournaments have grown to span several days, and every year, the grueling schedule generates its share of dramatic episodes. In fact, getting to see high school students from all over Japan compete with all their hearts is one of the reasons these tournaments are so exciting.



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福岡で開催される柔道と剣道の全国大会

 日本の高校のクラブ活動では古くからの武道が盛んに行われています。その代表格が柔道と剣道です。また、街中には小さな子どもたちも習うことができる柔道や剣道の道場があり、多くの子どもたちが通っています。こうした柔道や剣道をやっている高校生が目指す大会のひとつに、福岡で毎夏行われる金鷲旗(きんしゅうき)と玉竜旗(ぎょくりゅうき)があります。

 金鷲旗は西日本新聞社と九州柔道協会が主催する柔道大会、また玉竜旗は西日本新聞社と九州剣道連盟が主催する剣道大会です。いずれも毎年7月下旬頃、福岡マリンメッセを会場として行われ、金鷲旗に続いて玉竜旗が開催されます。大会は男子の部と女子の部に分かれており、高校生の全国大会としてはインターハイ(高校総体)などと並んで三大大会のひとつに数えられています。

 地元の新聞社と九州地区の柔剣道団体が主催する大会がなぜ全国三大大会に数えられるのか、不思議に思った人もいるかもしれません。その秘密は参加の方法にあります。ほとんどの全国大会はまず地域で選抜大会があり、そこで勝ち上がったものが全国大会に出場します。ところが金鷲旗と玉竜旗には選抜大会がなく、希望すればどんな学校でも参加できます。近年は海外からも参加があり、毎年数百校が参加しています。

 金鷲旗と玉竜旗の前身大会は大正時代に始まり、当初は福岡県内だけの参加だったのですが、次第に他県の高校も受入れるようになりました。明るく開放的な福岡の気質を象徴しているようにも思えます。参加校数が多く、試合日程が数日におよぶハードな大会のため、毎年さまざまなドラマが生まれています。高校生たちが頑張る姿も人々の感動を呼ぶ理由のひとつです。