The Olympic Torch Relay is underway in Kagoshima! 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.
28 April, 17:30 (JST): The Niagara of the East
After a trip through a number of cities and towns in Kagoshima Prefecture, the Olympic torch made it to the glorious Sogi Falls Park in Isa City. Ideal for relaxation and exploration, the Falls are often referred to as the 'Niagara of the East'. The park, which can be enjoyed all year around, is popular for its fall foliage in Autumn and cherry blossoms in the Spring.
But it wasn't the Falls that stole the spotlight this afternoon. Junior high school student TAKENO Isana carried the Olympic torch through a limestone tunnel which beautifully illuminated the flame.
28 April, 16:00 (JST): Embodying #StrongerTogether
It was after the postponement of the Olympic Games, torchbearer Director, an alias for the torchbearer, discovered he had lung and liver cancer. But thankfully surgery last November was a success.
Today whilst he runs with the Olympic flame in Hioki City for his wife and son, who both have genetic diseases, he also wants to bring courage to those also suffering with illnesses.
"I want to give courage and energy to those who are facing many illnesses and those who are trying hard to overcome injuries and other problems.
He wants to continue to live his life and strive to make as many people smile every day.
28 April, 15:00 (JST): Re-living the moments
With our time in Kagoshima Prefecture is coming to an end this evening, lets look back on how Day 2 of the Olympic Torch Relay has gone so far.
28 April, 12:00 (JST): A musical melody
Ahead of our next stop of Satsumasendai City, let's take a look back on a performance from a local orchestra in sunny Amami City yesterday.
28 April, 10:00 (JST): A hope for the future
After quitting smoking at 40, KUMASAKI Tetsuya made the decision to start running marathons. Tackling 2km seemed tough at first but now he's running ultramarathons, which are over 42km. He has also been a vision impaired guide runner for the last six years, taking part in the Tokyo Marathon, Izumi Crane Marathon and Kagoshima Marathon, along with other races across Kyushu.
Currently working in a child care centre, Kumasaki hopes that the children he cares for now and others will become future the leaders of the 21st century who will have the desire to take on challenges whilst supporting and caring for each other.
28 April, 9:30 (JST): Generation to generation
It was almost 57-years ago when IWASHITA Ayane's grandfather ran as the final torchbearer in Kagoshima Prefecture for the Tokyo 1964 Games. Sadly, Ayane would never have the chance to meet her grandfather, who passed away at 36-years-old. However, the memories of her grandfather weren't ever far away as her grandmother's house was decorated with photos and even a torch. This year she also entered the same high-school her grandfather attended and where he was the captain of the baseball team.
When I become a torchbearer, I would like my grandfather in heaven to see me running.
Nearly 57-years ago, IWASHITA Ayane's grandfather carried the Olympic flame in Kagoshima Prefecture and today the high school student begun the torch relay in Izumi City.
27 April, 15:30 (JST): Koinobori flags are up
The locals have started displaying these colourful koinobori (carp) flags up in front of their homes, with Kodomo no hi (Children's Day) to be celebrated all over Japan on 5 May. In Japan, a carp symbolises strength because of its ability to swim up a waterfall.
Parents celebrate this day to wish their kids success and advancement in life and they do it in a variety of ways. Within their homes, families also display samurai helmets, samurai dolls, all symbolising courage and strength whilst they eat rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves and bean paste or dumplings.
27 April, 14:00 (JST): Minami Osumi town's scenic sites
SHIRAISHI Yakumo, our torchbearer from Minami Osumi, brought us around the town's most scenic sites, starting off from the beach and taking us up to Cape Sata's observatory Park which has one of the most breathtaking views of islands like Tanegashima and Yakushima islands.
FUN FACT: It also boasts of Japan's oldest lighthouse which was built and designed in the Meiji period.
Nestled in southern most part of the island of Kyushu, Minamiosumi Town, which was only formed in 2005, saw the Olympic flame pass through some of Japan's most beautiful seaside views.
27 April, 13:30 (JST): A cardiologist lifts up our hearts in Amami City
TASHIRO Atsushi made the rounds today this time as a torchbearer in Amami City. Tashiro is the only cardiologist in Tokunoshima island, where 20,000 people currently live.
Aside from being committed to providing high medical care to his people, Tashiro believes his work as a cardiologist allows him to 'protect the heart of the island'.
Tashiro is also an avid runner and participates in an annual Tokunoshima Triathlon where his patients and their families cheer for him every year. Today, he continues to lift people's hearts whilst carrying the torch in Kagoshima.
27 April, 11:15 (JST): Drum roll please!
KAWAHARA Ryota has swapped his drumming sticks for the Olympic torch today in Kanoya City, Kagoshima Prefecture. A member of the taiko team in Tarumi City, Kawahara has been ambassador of Japanese culture through his performances both in Japan and abroad. When he's not working, he also volunteers to perform with his group at facilities for people with impairments.
Did you know that taiko drumming is also known as 'the heartbeat of Japan'? It's an art form that has existed for centuries and used mainly for religious rituals. Today, taiko drumming forms part of the Japanese culture and has evolved into the spectacular performances we see today.
27 April, 10:30 (JST): Former firefighter turned social worker joins Kagoshima relay
TAKAYASU Shigeyuki spent 38 years of his life working as a firefighter in Tokyo, but after retiring he still wanted to continue dedicating his life to the community.
For a time, he was a youth football (soccer) coach for local Tokyo-based club Sakura SC before returning to his native Kagoshima, where he became a social education instruction for the Shibushi City Board of Education teaching classes to senior citizens and enriching their lives in their retirement age.
Today, our unsung hero dedicates this torch relay to everyone he has encountered in his illustrious career in community service and hopes that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 will be 'the light we see at the end of the tunnel."
27 April, 09:00 (JST): A salute to a nurse firefighter
Kagoshima Prefecture kicks off its Olympic relay at Shibushiko Park with torchbearer YASUKAWA Akemi - a local nurse and a female firefighter who has been taking care of men and women of all ages in Shibushi City. As a nurse, Yasukawa knows that the whole world can win the battle against COVID-19. 'I am sure that we will regain our smiles and the Olympics will be a great success," she said.
Accompanied by children runners, Yasukawa's indomitable spirit shines through as she is currently battling cancer herself and is bent on overcoming the disease.
YASUKAWA Akemi, a nurse and firefighter, spirit shone through as she got the Olympic Torch Relay in Kagoshima Prefecture underway.
27 April, 08:30 (JST): A Kagoshima singer expressing her true self
One of the torchbearers who will be participating in the Kagoshima leg of the relay is TAKAMORi Rika, a transgender performer who goes under the name of 'Riu'. Despite a lack of opportunities and activities dedicated to the LGBT+ community in Kagoshima, as compared to a city like Tokyo, Takamori is proud that she is able to express herself, saying: "Because I was born like this, I get to meet people and experience life. I want to express myself honestly. I made that decision and started performing live."
For more on Takamori's journey and reasons for becoming a torchbearer, read here.
27 April, 08:24 (JST): Welcome to Shibushi City!
Welcome to the first day of the Olympic Torch Relay in Kagoshima! The flame will begin its journey in Shibushi City and from there make its way to Kanoya City, Amami City, Minamiosumi Town, Kirishima City and Aira City, before ending the day in Kagoshima City.
You can watch all of the day's action unfold live right here on Tokyo 2020.