Japan Turns Competitive Pillow Fighting Into An Art Form
Welcome to the sport of competitive pillow fighting, known in Japanese as 枕投げ makura-nage
Since 2013, the All-Japan Pillow Fighting Championships have been held here. Competitive makura-nage was inspired by the kind of pillow fights Japanese children on extended school trips often have when teachers aren’t looking in the large tatami-matted communal rooms of the Japanese inn where they spend the night.
The game starts with all five players ‘sleeping’ under kakebuton comforters then leaping to their feet when the whistle is blown, as they grab a pillow and begin the match.
Now, a promotional campaign financed by Ito City’s Office of Tourism and starring group rhythmic gymnast and current television reporter Airi Hatakeyama has given the sport a new glossy veneer.
Hatakeyama demonstrates four representative aspects of the game. With her gymnastic prowess, Hatakeyama leaps in attack, dodges pillows, blocks them with a comforter and cheers with a portable loudspeaker, as the fabric of her undoubtedly lengthened yukata uniform billows dramatically.