Ehime: Battle-Focused Samurai-Style Swimming Re-created

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A participant wields a sword while treading water in the Hiji River in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, on Jan. 9.

OZU, Ehime — A hardy group of swimmers recently demonstrated an ancient battle-focused swimming technique in the Hiji River in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture.

The ancient swimming style, known as “shumeshindenryu,” originated in the area during the 17th century as a martial art for armor-clad fighters to contend with enemy forces while swimming in rivers or the sea.

On Jan. 9, some members of a local group that preserves the technique were swimming in armor weighing about 10 kilograms while others were demonstrating their sword-wielding skills.

The displays had been an annual event, but were held for the first time in three years due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to old-style swimmers, dozens of people ranging in age from 2 to 80 took part in the aquatic event while braving a water temperature of about 6 C.