Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Kashima Gatalympics – Japan’s Coolest Sporting Event

Kashima Gatalympics – Japan’s Coolest Sporting Event

Mark I. Quijano

You’ve probably heard the idiom “Here’s mud in your eye”, an expression used to wish someone success or happiness while tossing a glass of beer.


In Japan, you’re going to say “There’s mud on your face”, not as an idiom but an honest expression of what you see on the face of the people who participate at the Gatalympics in Kashima City.

What is Kashima Gatalympics?

The Kashima Gatalympics is a yearly sporting event held in a small city of Kashima in Saga prefecture. Compared to other sporting events, Kashima Gatalympics is unique because all activities are held outdoors - in the mudflats. So during the event participants are covered with mud from head to toe.

History of Kashima Gatalympics

The first Kashima Gatalympics was held in 1985.

About 300 athletes competed in six different events. Every year, the event continues to attract Japanese and foreign tourists.



Events at the Gatalympics include; the 25-metre dash, a challenging race as athletes sinks waist-deep into the mud. There's also a bicycle race along wooden planks placed on the mud for bike enthusiasts. But wait, competitors in this particular event have to bear in mind that bikes have no brakes. So contestants who may lose control ends up coming off the boards and landing in the mud. Other categories are tug of war, surfboards race and sumo. And off course, the "Find the balls" category for kids.


Isn’t it cool? Just imagine someone standing next to you with mud from head to toe. Perhaps, you’ll see someone smiling at you because you got mud on your face. But this sporting event is definitely fun. This is one of the coolest things to experience in Japan. As long as you are able to compete, physically healthy, you are in. The only requirement to join is your willingness to get wet and covered with mud.




Train: Take JR Nagasaki train from Fukuoka and get off at Hizen-Nanaura station. It takes about 5-minute walk from Hizen-Nanaura to the venue.

Car: 40-minute drive from Nagasaki Expressway Takeo-Kitagata IC.

Bus: Get on Yutoku Bus bound for Kenkai at Kashima Bus Center, and get off at Kaiyo Center stop.

To find out the exact date of the next Gatalympics, contact the organizers on 0954 63 3312 (phone) or  email, or check out the official Gatalympic website (in Japanese).