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The Martial Arts Tourism Gaining Popularity Among Tourists Visiting Japan

This video, titled "[Japan Sports Agency] Foreign Visitors to Japan Taking Interest! A Report on the 'Budo Tourism' That Can Only Be Experienced in Japan" (【スポーツ庁】訪日外国人が注目! 日本でしか体験できない「武道ツーリズム」の現場をレポート), was released by "Japan Sports Agency" (スポーツ庁).

Budo Tourism refers to foreign visitors to Japan going on sightseeing trips to experience traditional Japanese martial arts.
In addition to sumo, Japan's national sport, Japan has various traditional martial arts, such as kendo, judo, karate, and aikido, which attract a lot of interest from foreign tourists.
With Budo Tourism, some foreigners visit Japan to try Kyudo, Shorinji Kempo, Naginata and Iaido.

Karate, A Martial Art Gaining Popularity in Budo Tourism

Image of martial arts
Photo:Martial arts

Karate, seen from 0:34 in the video, is one of the most popular forms of martials arts in Budo Tourism, and has also officially been made into an event at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
It is said that there are around 130 million karate enthusiasts around the world, and the number of foreign tourists visiting to experience karate through Budo Tourism is increasing year after year.

There are various theories about the origin of karate, but it is believed that the history of Japanese karate begins with the self-defense techniques of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which can be seen in the video.
The Chinese martial art "Toude," which was introduced to the Ryukyu Kingdom, later become what we know as traditional Okinawan karate.
Eventually, karate was divided into several schools, and performances and matches began to be held throughout the country.

The Appeal of Budo Tourism

Image of Karate

The fascinating experience of practicing in a dojo while wearing traditional uniforms typical of Japanese martial arts is not something you can easily experience outside of Japan.
What kind of experience are foreign tourists looking for when training in classes held at traditional martial arts dojos?
One reason is that Japanese martial arts place a large importance on etiquette and many people feel that they can experience spiritual growth through these experiences.

Japanese martial arts have the idea of "Shin-Gi-Tai" (心技体: heart, technique, strength)
This is a term that refers to the three qualities of a martial artist: mental strength (心, heart), skill (技, technique), and physical strength (体, body).
It is said that training the mind and body in a well-balanced manner is the most important thing to consider when practicing martial arts.

Summary of Japan's Budo Tourism

Image of Karate, kata
Photo:Karate, kata

As mentioned before, the number of foreign tourists interested in traditional Japanese martial arts, such as karate and kendo, is increasing year after year.
Many Japanese people and foreign tourists are looking forward to seeing traditional martial arts at the Tokyo Olympics.
Going forward, Budo Tourism will become a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world.

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
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