Arts and Culture
Cheer groups (Oendan) are commonly found in high schools, colleges and universities in Japan. Cheer groups in universities in Japan consist of three sections: leaders, brass band and cheerleading. In this research, I focus on the leader section as it is the core of the three sections. Leaders differ from the cheerleading originating in the United States, they cheer and perform for their school on stage as a performing art. The cheer groups share some common practices and values with Japanese martial arts. These values embraced by cheer groups contrast with the modern mainstream values such as individualism and respect of human rights. This paper shows how cheer groups display meanings and values that contradict contemporary trends by insisting on the importance of groupism and corporal punishment based on participant observation, semi-structured interview and textual and media analysis. To conclude, although cheer groups are relaxing their rules to cater to the modern society, the traditions and core values of cheer groups, which corresponded with Japanese virtues associated with Meiji and early postwar period, support its continued popularity.