Thousands flock to the annual hole digging competition outside of Tokyo

Thousands of people gathered on the outskirts of Tokyo at the weekend for the 11th annual Japan All-National Hole Digging Competition in an attempt to win the much sought after Golden Shovel. The aim of the competition is to dig the deepest hole, but there are also prizes on offer for ‘most creative hole’ (unsure about what actually constitutes a creative hole?) and of course ‘best outfit worn whilst digging a hole.’

Over 200 teams entered the competition on Sunday. Under the rules, competitors are tasked with trying to dig as deep a hole as possible within the 30 minute time limit. The sizes of shovels are strictly monitored, and throwing dirt into a competitor’s hole is obviously strictly forbidden at the contest. This year the winning hole was just over 3.26m deep and that led to the winner, , taking home a prize roughly equivalent to $1000 and of course, the golden shovel.

The contest attracts people from all walks of life. Manabu Saito, the PR Officer for the event (because clearly a hole digging competition requires a PR officer in Japan), explains: “As for the participants, there are of course, a lot of families and groups of friends. However, the most numerous are those who are “professionals” who dig for a living, such as gas company workers or those who deal with the water supply.”

So does that mean people in Japan who have really crappy jobs digging holes actually love them so much that they want to spend their spare time competing with each other digging more holes and seeing who can dig the best hole? It would appear so.

It seems to be a mentality instilled from an early age, as can be seen by the comments of Norki Ishii, a 7 year old boy who was involved in the competition: “It was nice to be able to dig even a little bit. I was really happy. But I have to wonder why I was only able to dig this much.” You’ve got to think he’s probably going to be spending the whole year training to be better at digging holes in next year’s competition. And who could blame him?!

Some of the competitors approached the event with a different mentality though. One participant, Nobutaka Nakane, decided to use the dirt dug up from the holes to make a pyramid of dirt instead. He explains his reasons (which definitely make sense) for this: “we look at dirt every day. But being here and having people pass by and say it looks really nice, makes me very happy.”

Clearly, Japan is completely weird.


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