Climbing Walls

Wolfram Manzenreiter

in Recreating Japanese Men

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267374
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950320 | DOI:
Climbing Walls

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This chapter examines the potential of alternative sports for the creation of new and alternative masculinities in Japan. It focuses on the sport of free-climbing, which despite its inherent androgynous characteristics, as with other alternative sports, is highly gendered in conventional way. While heteronormative ideas of a natural or naturalized gender order persist, alternative sports and similar countercultures provide opportunities for popularizing new and alternative masculinities. In this chapter, the research data are based on an extensive participant observation between two different groups of free climbers from western Japan in the years 1995 and 1996. The chapter starts with an overview of free-climbing in Japan. The proceeding sections explore the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, the importance of the body, and various markers of status differentiation and status inversion within the subculture. The chapter concludes by discussing the appropriateness of androgyny as a concept in sports and by providing comments on the variability and plurality of masculine identities among Japanese free climbers.

Keywords: alternative sports; alternative masculinities; Japan; free-climbing; inclusion; exclusion; status differentiation; status inversion

Chapter.  8746 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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