For fans of Japanese sport the silver medal won by the 4x100m relay team at the Rio Olympics was unquestionably one of the most pulsating moments of 2016. On paper Ryota Yamagata, Shota Iizuka, Yoshihide Kiryu and Aska Cambridge didn’t seem like a particularly formidable group of sprinters. None of them had made an individual final or ever ran a sub-10 second 100m race before, yet together they produced something special. Japan led until the final straight, then along came Usain Bolt and well you know the rest.
This Sunday three members of the Japanese team (excluding Cambridge) recreated their Olympic heroics at the “Midosuji Runway” Autumn party in Osaka. Showing off their baton-passing skills in front of a crowd of 250,000 people in the center of the city, they ran along a red carpet in the same order as Rio with veteran Nobuharu Asahara, himself an Olympic bronze medalist, taking over from Cambridge on the last leg.
It was the highlight of an event that featured hundreds of models walking down the red-carpet catwalk in clothes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. There were also street dance performances, acrobats, lightning talk sessions and live music. Special guests included actress and model Mayuko Kawakita, kabuki star Kazutarou Nakamura and renowned photographer Mika Ninagawa whose collection of kimonos entitled “M” looked vibrant and graceful. Exactly what you’d expect from Ninagawa.
With the evening drawing in it was time for the Christmas lights to be switched on. As well as the prefectural governor and the city mayor, there were a host of celebrities on stage to begin the countdown. Once the trees had turned to gold and pink it was time for the marching band to get going. This signaled the end of what was a very enjoyable day and evening. We’re hoping for more of the same next year.
Main Image: Ryota Yamagata takes off (©Midosuji Autumn Party 2016)