The tennis courts
DIJ Tokyo Shelf Mark H57-04: The Bando tennis courts

In less than a month after the first occupants of the camp arrived on the 6th of April 1917, work started on the preparation of sports facilities on land rented for the purpose outside the camp perimeter, and sporting activities were well established by the time that the first issue of the newspaper was published on the 30th of September. The very first article in the newspaper1 describes how, with the support of the camp authorities, extensive sports facilities had been set up. A bowling alley was also opened on the 25th of May2, and in July people started bathing in the Otose River3.

A sports week was held at the start of October 4,5,6 . At this time, there were frequent articles in the newspaper about individual sports7,8, but later they were less frequent 9,10. Despite this, sports were obviously thriving, and there was even an article complaining that they were having a negative impact on gymnastics11.

In later editions, sporting matters tend to be found in the Camp Chatter articles. For example, we learn that additional tennis courts were opened in July 1918, and that rounders was particularly popular12. In November 1918, people were playing croquet13. In December, when Spanish flu was prevalent in the camp, the resumption of sporting activity during recovery from illness was discouraged14.

In January 1919 thanks to the armistice and also the initiative taken by Captain Buttersack, walks and day-trips were organised in the surrounding countryside. Such activities would continue to take place throughout the year15.

Two significant sporting events occurred in 1919. The first was the walking race which took place on the 17th of April16, and the swimming festival which took place on the 13th of August17. There was also another tennis report in May 18. As time went on in, walks to Kushigi became very frequent – there were seven in the month of October19.