A study for rewriting the history of popularizing skiing
by the army in Takada, Japan in 1910-11
Hideaki KINOSHITA (Nihon University)
In December of 1910 the Ministry of Army decided that research on the
military benefits of
skiing should be started by the Takada Division, located in the most famous area covered with heavy
snow, because skiing had never been done in Japan. The instructor was Theodor von Lerch, an
Austrian officer, staying at the Takada Infantry Regiment as foreign military observer.
The history of skiing established by non-historians shows that soon after the benefit of skiing
as physical activity for youth in the snowT area was recognized because of the results of the skiing
practice for military officers for one month, the Divisional Commander intended to start a course for
school teachers of gymnastics.
However, a half month before starting the research, "Articles for Researching Skiing" were
directed by the commander, in which three problems about utilizing skiing for the public were outlined
as well as the problems for military benefits. The first of them was the research concerning popular
transportation, the second concerning a physical activity of youth in the snow areas, and the third on
devising the skiing equipment and footwear suited to the customs and life style of the citizens.
According to this, the commander had intended to spread skiing for the civil benefits by the
time the research started. In fact, people were informed about skiing through newspapers at the
same time the research started and before the arrival of Lerch.
Additionally it is not found in any original materials that a skiing race was held as the final
examination for officers, which appeared in the established history of skiing.
Therefore, the established history of skiing has to be corrected.
The aim of this article is to rewrite the history of skiing in Takada by examining historical
materials, particularly "The Official Report by the Division on the Researches of Introducing Skiing",
a supplement of the journal "Kaiko-sya Kiji" edited and published by the Military Officers Club in