January 29, 2010

JAPAN: Bowling hopes to be spared by luring elderly as youths exit frame

. TOKYO, Japan / The Japan Times / Life in Japan / January 29, 2010 By Tomoya Okabe, Kyodo News Bowling is striking out with young people as the birthrate continues to fall and students increasingly favor other leisure activities, so lanes are looking to seniors and the middle-aged for survival. Alarmed by the trend, the industry is trying to promote bowling as an extracurricular activity for high school students and foster it as part of regional development. In 2008, the number of bowling alleys nationwide was under 1,000 for the first time in 28 years. The value of the market meanwhile plunged below ¥100 billion. Photo for illustration. Credit: ehow.com According to a survey by the Japan Productivity Center, 23.5 million people went bowling in 2008, down 6 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, 25.5 million were jogging and participating in marathons, up 12 percent and turning running into the most popular sport. The Bowling Proprietors' Association of Japan said there were 3,697 bowling alleys at the height of the sport's popularity in 1972, but the number has gradually decreased due to a growing range of other leisure activities and fewer young people going bowling. Many owners of older lanes razed them to build condominiums. As a result, the number of alleys dropped to 987 in 2008. The productivity center said the market, which reached ¥204 billion in 1993, had fallen to ¥91 billion in 2008. Between just 2007 and 2008 it declined 10 percent.[rc] (C) The Japan Times