Japan bullfighting lifts 'men-only' rule

TOKYO • Japanese bullfighting organisers said yesterday they had lifted a longstanding ban on women entering the sport's "sacred" ring, in a bid to modernise the traditional activity for the #MeToo generation.

Japanese sumo wrestling recently came under fire for its strict men-only rules. In togyu bullfighting, women were similarly barred from the ring, which is ritually purified before matches with salt and Japanese sake.

But on Friday, organisers lifted the prohibition and allowed female bull owner Yuki Araki to lead her animal into the ring in Yamakoshi, north of Tokyo, after a fight on the opening day of this season.

"Equality for men and women is a trend of the times," said Mr Katsushi Seki, an official with the Yamakoshi bullfight organisation. "By opening the ring to women, we hope this traditional bullfighting will continue far into the future," Mr Seki told Agence France-Presse.

Unlike Spanish bullfighting which ends with a matador slaying the animal, togyu is a bloodless match between two bulls locking horns. Great pains are taken to ensure the animals do not gore each other.

"I'm glad that local people openly welcomed us," Ms Araki, 44, told Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

One of Japan's other traditional sports, sumo, caught flak last month after women were barred from the ring as they tried to help a man during a medical emergency.

Just days after the incident triggered scathing national and international headlines, a female mayor in the western city of Takarazuka was barred from delivering a speech inside a sumo ring.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Japan bullfighting lifts 'men-only' rule'. Print Edition | Subscribe