Bullfighting Season Kicks Off in Niigata Pref.; Bovines Butt Heads in Traditional Display

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Two oxen butt heads in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, on Friday.

This year’s first traditional bullfighting tournament was held at the Ojiya bullfighting arena in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, on Friday. On the first day of the latter half of the Golden Week holidays, the bullfighting arena was filled with about 1,000 spectators, and huge cheers erupted as the fighting bulls, each weighing about a ton, fiercely butted heads.

This form of bullfighting, in which there is no matador and the animals compete against each other, is called Ushi no Tsuno-tsuki (oxen horn-butting), a national important intangible folk cultural asset. It is said to have a history of about 1,000 years.

On Friday, 34 bulls, some of them raised by children from a nearby elementary school, competed against each other. It is typical for each bout to end in a draw. Thunderous applause arose whenever officials called seko, who were watching in the ring, separated a pair of contending bulls.

An 83-year-old man from Niigata City said, “I felt the fighting spirit and guts of the bulls.”