All About Japanese Culture in Tokyo Olympics Ceremonies – NBC 6 South Florida
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics showcased some of the oldest traditions in Japanese culture, as well as some of the most recent.
The moving presentation hosted the Parade of Nations with thousands of athletes from around the world and ended with a hopeful and symbolic lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
From pop culture to age-old customs, here’s a look at some of the hidden and not-so-hidden references to Japanese culture that took center stage at the Tokyo Olympics launch ceremony.
Video Games & Manga: Original Soundtrack of the Opening Ceremony
Music from popular video games like “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest” was played during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. InsideJapan’s Ayako Kiyono explains the inclusion of these modern things in Japanese culture.
The rich manga of Japan and video game culture had a strong visual and aural presence during the opening ceremony.
“The music for the entrance parade is taken from video games” Japanese culture expert said Ayako Kiyono. “Plus, the country names are in speech bubbles. People tweet it’s a nice combination of Japanese games and manga.
Familiar playing tunes echoed in the background as thousands of Olympians from around the world marched through the arena in the ceremonial Parade of Nations. Some of the iconic songs from poplar games featured include “Victory Fanfare” from Final Fantasy, “Star Light Zone” from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game and “Roto’s Theme” from the Dragon Quest series.
Kiyono says video games came into the fore because of their widespread popularity and association with Japanese culture – and started with Nintendo over 30 years ago.
“Nintendo started in Kyoto,” Kiyono said. “It was just a very small playing card business. Over the past 30 years, it has spread to the very large. “
The influence of Japanese manga in the culture of the country is also undeniable
Known as one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, Akiko Hashimoto of the University of Pittsburg says magna was created by artist Kitazawa Rakuten in the 1900s after drawing inspiration from early American comics in the newspapers.
Hope. The diversity. Switch.
Naomi Osaka was the last Olympic torchbearer for the Tokyo Olympics, lighting the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony.
International tennis superstar and Japanese national Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron in what competition officials called “a symbol of hope for her home country.”
Osaka was chosen as the latest torchbearer in what some say is a nod to diversity, emphasizing the Olympics theme “Stronger Together”.
“She is the person who symbolizes the Olympics a lot,” Kiyono said. “I believe she was chosen because she overcame so many difficulties being Japanese because her color is different.”
Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, chose to represent the country she was born in at the Olympics after giving up her American citizenship before she turned 22.
The young tennis star became a leading voice for social justice at the US Open by wearing masks bearing the names of African Americans killed by police brutality. Osaka also used its platform to publicly speak out against anti-Asian hate crimes earlier this year after the United States saw a recent spike in incidents.
“She was chosen as a symbol of diversity,” Kiyono said.
After the moving and symbolic ceremony, Osaka tweeted that lighting the cauldron was “without a doubt the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life.”
A performance inspired by a traditional game
The performers interconnected with a red string at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics had many meanings, one related to a children’s game and the other to interconnectivity. Ayako Kiyono and Masa Hattori from InsideJapan explain the common thread of Japanese culture.
Dozens of dancer performers dressed in white clothes twisted and wrapped their bodies around long red ribbons of string. The dancers’ moving performance was inspired by a centuries-old game in Japanese culture called “Ayatori”.
Ayatori is a game of skill and skill that involves manipulating string, usually made of thread, to form various shapes and figures. Cultural tradition can be performed alone or with a friend.
“When Japan was very poor, there weren’t a lot of expensive games that we could enjoy, so girls can play with their friends by really making different shapes with string,” said Masa Hattori, a Japanese national guide.
Historians say gambling was commonly played by young girls, but has since become a gender-neutral activity for all ages. Versions of Ayatori have been found in many cultures around the world, including “Cat’s Cradle” played in the United States.