Yamaguchi: Slipper Table Tennis Competition to Restart in July

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People play table tennis with house slippers instead of rackets in April 2012 in Yamaguchi.

YAMAGUCHI — A “slipper table tennis” tournament will be held in Yamaguchi next month for the first time in four years after repeated cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a game of slipper table tennis, players hit the ball with a house slipper instead of a racket, and such competitions are often held in hot spring resorts around the country.

The Yuda Onsen hot spring resort in Yamaguchi started hosting such events in 2012 as a project by inn proprietresses in order to attract guests amid declining numbers.

In 2019, 180 pairs of players from both inside and outside of Yamaguchi Prefecture competed in doubles divisions for beginners and non-beginners. Sayaka Hirano, who won a silver medal in the women’s table tennis teams event at the 2012 London Olympics, also participated. Participants played heated games while wearing unique costumes, such as of anime characters and hula dancers.

The city of Yamaguchi is the hometown of table tennis star and three-time Olympic medalist Kasumi Ishikawa, who announced her retirement in May. According to locals, the founding of the unique competition in the city was encouraged by Ishikawa’s silver medal win at the 2012 London Games, so they are hoping that Ishikawa will attend the July event.