Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

How does the promotion of sport and 'gattai' also reinforce biopower?


Within Elise Edwards’ writing on Japanese sport, bio-power is alluded to, even if it is never explicitly mentioned.  “[The] portrayals of baseball… actively produced culturally salient images of Japanese citizenship” (Edwards 290).  Referencing Shimizu Satoshi and Robert Whiting, Edwards explains how KĊshien, Japan’s popular high-school baseball tournament, helped create “both local and national discourses of identity” (290).  This is where I believe Foucault’s concept of bio-power is reinforced.  Those in power that create such an event, an event that the majority of the country becomes invested in, can control how those who watch it act.  Through baseball, the fit, slim, and polished bodies of the players are reflected to the viewers, creating a subconscious desire to be like them.  While Japan obviously isn’t the only country to have sport on a national stage, the Japanese homogeneity that is culturally present makes this subconscious desire feel like it can become a reality.  In Japan, due to this homogeneity, a Japanese man often only sees another Japanese man performing sport, thus making the desire to achieve a similar body style seem more achievable.  I believe this subconscious desire planted in the heads of Japanese sports watchers is a clear example of bio-power, and also reinforces the concept of gattai.  By creating more healthy bodies within the nation, Japan can become better equipped for any sort of physical conflict that may arise in the future, similar to how Sawamura’s body was equipped for the military due to his baseball training.  By reinforcing this concept of bio-power, gattai is also reinforced because by creating a healthier nation, the nation will be able to come together when they most need to.

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