In Okinawa, bullfighting has been passed down as a part of local entertainment culture.
The city of Uruma in particular is known as the “city of bullfighting,
” and those traditions continue to be protected to the present day.

Photo:Yukie Kudaka

Although the sport has long been considered a preference of the men
who enjoy daring face-offs against the bulls,
there has been a change in those attending the venues in recent years.


There is a new “bullfighting boom” underway recently
that differs from any before it, as young women,
families, and non-Japanese come to these venues
that used to swell with long-time local bullfighting fans.

Yukie Kudaka is responsible for launching that boom.
Born into a family of ushikaraya (cattle-raisers) stretching back generations,
she has lived with cattle as long as she can remember.

Each and every bull has a different personality,
from rough to gentle; yet once in the bullring,
they reveal their combative instincts as they square off against their opponents.

Kudaka began taking photographs as a fifth-grader in primary school
because she wanted to preserve the fighting bull she had brought up under her personal care.

She continued capturing in photos both fighting bulls
and the people who poured their hearts and souls into their cattle.
With the contribution of a sympathetic editor,
she published “Bullfight Girl: A Photograph Collection” in 2013.

Photo: Yukie Kudaka

Taken by this woman who has lived her life among cattle,
the photographs are raw and full of motion, capturing everything
from vigorous young faces to ferocious breath.

“In this book, unadorned,
are moments of the cattle laying bare their inborn, natural fighting spirit.”
Kudaka was attracted to this quality of theirs.

Photo: Yukie Kudaka

The best way to experience the attractiveness of bullfighting is not through photographs
but in the audience at the arena.

Kudaka also recommends spectating at the bullring.

“I want people to come and actually see it up close,
as you can really feel the tension and excitement for yourself.”


Her recommended seat in the audience is right in front of the gate
where the bulls enter the arena.

“You can see the bulls walk, their attitude,
and their worked-up expression when they have their heads up in high spirits,” she tells us.

Bullfighting events are held regularly in the city of Uruma.

Why not come and see for yourself?

Then you too can be a Bullfight Girl or Boy!



Traditional Okinawa bullfighting, changed by the “Bullfight Girl”

Ishikawa Multipurpose Dome

2298-1 Ishikawa, Uruma-shi, Okinawa, Japan

Yukie Kudaka facebook

Published October 13, 2017