Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

from Photographers' Blog:

Cheering on an aging Japan

Photo

When I first heard there was a 78-year old cheerleader in Japan who wears metallic silver wigs and waves gold pom-poms as she jumps and dances in her shiny red sequined costume, it instantly made me curious to find out what kind of person she is.

Japan's cheerleaders.  REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Everyone knows by now that people in Japan live a long time. According to the World Health Organization's latest life expectancy figures Japanese women remain at number one (life expectancy: 86 years), but I had never heard of an 80-year-old cheerleader.

Fumie Takino’s way of life seemed to be the key.

My first encounter with her was at her gymnasium, which takes her an hour to get to by bus and train. Upon meeting her I was immediately struck by her big smile and how open she was to let me photograph her practice session with her teammates.

Takino started her cheerleading group, “Japan Pom Pom,” 15 years ago and now the members’ average age is 66. The group all looked like typical Japanese seniors until they changed into their practice outfits and danced to a pulsating musical beat, jumping and kicking their legs.

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