A large scale event in front of an estimated crowd of 300,000 people, Osaka’s annual Midosuji Autumn Party seems to gets bigger and better each year. The 2017 version included a wide range of spectacular performances and some very special guests including Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix and the country’s most popular comic duo Downtown.
The former, who competes in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters, is the only female track and field athlete to win six golds at the Olympics. Along with Merlene Ottey, she is also the most decorated female sprint Olympian in history with nine medals in total. The last time the American runner visited Osaka, she walked away with three gold medals at the 2007 World Championships. “I’m just so happy to be back here,” Felix told the crowd. “This is such an innovative event. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Felix then delighted spectators by sprinting down the 400 meter green carpet. The biggest cheer of the day, however, was reserved for Downtown pairing Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada. One of the most influential comedy partnerships in Japan, they are known for their sarcastic boke and tsukkomi style (tsukkomi usually slaps boke on the head when he says something stupid or rude), though famously aren’t particularly close away from work and don’t even know each other’s phone numbers. Their stroll down the carpet seemed to take forever, but nobody seemed to mind as the screams got louder. A short, but extremely well received appearance on the main stage was then followed by the closing ceremony.
Other notable guests included model and actress Sumire who joined in the fashion parade, Olympic bronze medal-winning speed skater Tomomi Okazaki and the skating Yasutoko brothers. Rising star Shunsuke Nagasaki produced a memorable routine on the trampoline, while three former Major Leaguers practiced pitching with local schoolchildren. The festivities ended with the illumination ceremony as the trees of central Osaka turned purple and gold. The city once again produced another spectacular event. The question now is who can they invite to better it next year?