The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Aomori! You can watch every moment of the flame's historic journey to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games on 23 July 2021 via the dedicated Tokyo 2020 live stream, as well as following the highlights as they happen via our blog, below.
11 June, 19:40 (JST): Olympic champion’s nod to the future
Four-time Olympic Wrestling champion ICHO Kaori started training in Hachinohe Club, a wrestling school located in the city of the same name. Icho strongly believes that her unique childhood allowed her to become an international (and world-renowned) athlete. Every time she returns to her hometown to train the new generation of wrestlers, Icho sees a ‘refreshing and nostalgic to see the sparkle in their eyes’.
Icho dreams about creating the perfect environment where children will be able to experience that zest of competing around the globe. As a torchbearer, she would like to pay tribute to his fellow Hachinohe City residents. Icho, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for Tokyo 2020, believes the Olympic Games will be an important event for the development of the sporting world, and she aims to create a better sporting world for the next generation.
Before we say goodbye to Aomori, let's remember Icho's greatest moments at the Olympic Games.
Japan's Kaori Icho becomes the first woman to win individual golds at four consecutive Olympics, taking gold in women's freestyle wrestling.
11 June 19:15, (JST): Former Olympian turned local hero
OGASAWARA Tadashi, competed in the team pursuit event during the Montreal 1976 Games, is still grateful to the people of Hachinohe for all their support. He’s currently a member of various groups including the Aomori Cycling Federation, Hachinohe Area Youth Police Volunteers and Choja Area Youth Life Guidance Council.
I hope that becoming a torchbearer will be one of the ways in which I can repay the people who have helped me in the past.
11 June, 19:00 (JST): London gold medallist runs for her family
OBARA (née Sakamoto) Hitomi, who was born and raised in Hachinohe, started wrestling during her third year of primary school. Her father was a big sports fan and because of her active nature as a child, OBARA soon followed her brother’s footsteps and entered the wrestling world becoming one of the best of all-time.
She credits her family, coaches and friends for her achievements at the London 2012 Games, where she won gold in the 48kg on her Olympic debut. Although she was able to win, it was not an easy road having missed out on selection for Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, after which she contemplated retirement. But it was those close to her who encouraged her not to give up.
11 June, 18:14 (JST): Oh the serenity
Forming part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, Lake Towada is the largest caldera lake on Honshu. While the summer season has just begun, the lake is a popular koyo (red leaves) destination during autumn – actually it’s considered one of the most beautiful sights in Japan. As we take in the beauty of Lake Towada on this Friday afternoon, make sure to keep an eye out for Otome no Zo Statue, crafted in 1953 in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Lake Towada Park’s designation as a National Park, and Ogurojinja Ebisu Shrine, which sits in the middle of the lake.
11 June, 17:40 (JST): Unique torch poses and bright smiles
Well our time in Aomori Prefecture (our 37th prefecture) comes to end tonight in Hachinohe but before then lets take a look back on some of the best moments from today.
11 June, 17:20 (JST): A fiery celebration
Summer is definitely here and that means enjoying some of the best ‘matsuri’ festivals in town. Whilst most of these festivals will be scaled-down due to COVID-19, this year’s Nebuta matsuri or Japanese fire festival in Aomori could still be quite a stunning spectacle with its huge lantern floats and street parades that light up the summer nights.
While we have to wait until August to enjoy the festival, one of the founders of Aomori Nebuta Festival dancer’s group, GOTO Kouji, is actually here today as a torchbearer for Hashikami Town doing what he does best, highlighting the beauty of this Aomori tradition to the whole world.
And check this out!
11 June, 17:08 (JST): Like father, like daughter
ISHIOKA Asami’s father ran as a torchbearer in Tokyo 1964 and while he couldn’t do it a repeat this year in a second home Olympics, it’s now Ishikoka’s turn to carry the flame for Aomori Prefecture, making the Olympic torch relay true family tradition. Aside from fulfilling a family wish, she is also running today in the hopes that she could promote the very best of Japan to the world and build good relations with other countries.
11 June, 17:06 (JST): Running along the Kofunato Coast
It’s time to take in the breathtaking views of the Konfunato Coast, which forms part of the Sanriku Fukko National Park that stretches from Aomori Prefecture into Iwate Prefecture. This afternoon the Olympic flame will make its way up the almost 4km stretch of the coastline – known for being the place to watch the prefecture’s first sunrise. And it’s SAWAYA Takeru, who’s holding the Olympic flame in his right hand, that will get us underway for this leg. By participating, he wants show his love for his family and Aomori.
I want to run with a smile on my face, holding the torch with gratitude and love for Aomori Prefecture! My goal is to one day run the torch relay with my entire family!
11 June, 15:45 (JST): The City of Art
Before we arrive at our next destination later this afternoon, and in case you missed it, during our first stop of the day in Towada City the Olympic flame passed by the Towadashi Gendai Bijutsukan (Towada Art Center). The museum is part of the city's effort to transform itself into a 'City of Art'.
Opening in 2008, the museum houses over 20 permanent modern art installations made by the likes of Jeong Hwa Choi and Yoko Ono with each piece was created exclusively for the Towada Art Center.
Located on the Kanchogai Dori - selected as one of the 100 best streets of Japan - the exhibits outside the museum attempt to seamlessly blend into the surroundings. In fact, the street the museum sits on had become deserted overtime due to depopulation but the Towada Art Center has brought an influx of tourism to the area, bringing life back to the town as well as becoming a source of pride for Towada City.
11 June, 14:45 (JST): Meet MURASHITA Koichi
With the residents of Aomori Prefecture having the shortest life expectancy in Japan, MURASHITA Koichi has been conducting a large-scale medical survey project, the Iwaki Health Promotion Project, in the hope of finding a solution. Taking part of the Olympic Torch Relay on Day 1 of its journey through Aomori Prefecture, Murashita hopes that the torch relay will be an opportunity to publicise this ambitious and home-grown project.
Find out more about Murashita’s work HERE
11 June, 10:45 (JST): Two Olympic Games in a lifetime
Unlike Fujita, our first torchbearer, racehorse owner SUWA Toyozo was a high school student when the Tokyo 1964 Games took place and can still recall the vivid memories watching the lighting of the Olympic torch almost 57 years ago. While back then he was just a spectator, today he is truly embracing the spirit of the Olympics by becoming a full-fledged torchbearer for his city!
I wanted to experience that same feeling for myself, so I applied. I would also like to share the joy of running in the Tokyo Olympics with the people of my home town of Aomori.
It gives me the greatest joy to be a part of the Olympics twice in my lifetime.
11 June, 10:20 (JST): A neurosurgeon and cancer survivor becomes a torchbearer
FUJITA Seiichiro's birth was wrapped up in Olympic spirit as he was born just a few days before the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964. Now with destiny truly playing its part, Fujita, who is now 56-years-old has become a torchbearer for his hometown of Towada City. And this isn’t the first time he has served his local community. Fujita works as the only neurosurgeon in the Mutsu-Shimokita area, treating families in Aomori. Fujita, who is a cancer survivor, also dedicates his run to provide hope for those who are battling cancer.
11 June, 10:00 (JST): Welcome to Aomori Prefecture!
The Olympic flame is currently making its way through Aomori Prefecture. After arriving in the prefecture yesterday, today the Torch Relay will begin from Towada City before travelling through Oirase Town, Hashikami Town and Towada City (once again) to visit the famous Lake Towada then finishing the day in Hachinohe City.
Fun fact: Aomori is known for its apples
You can watch all of the day's action unfold live right here on Tokyo 2020.