HAMADA Yutaro: Hyogo torchbearer who uses comedy to inspire people with impairments 

HAMADA Yutaro
HAMADA Yutaro

Yutaro is in his seventh year as a comic storyteller with a visual impairment. He mainly performs at the comic theatres in Osaka's Namba area. In 2018, he won a famous solo grand prix tournament for comedians. He says he owes his achievement to the audience who comes to the theatres and to the fans who support him.

After he was named champion, he found that more people recognised him and talked to him. He says, "It makes me realise that I made all these people smile!" He especially remembers encountering a person with the same visual impairment, who approached Yutaro and told him, "I was really impressed. You gave me courage." That was when Yutaro realised that his performances can also encourage people with an impairment. "Thanks to the people who come to see me perform, I can continue working on the stage. I hope I can give something back by running as a torchbearer."

Yutaro is determined to fulfil his role in the Olympic Torch Relay, not as a torchbearer with an impairment but as a torchbearer representing the Japanese people.

What is important when you perform as a comic storyteller?

Speaking in words that the audience can understand and relate to. Telling stories that I personally think are funny. Oh, and telling the story until the end, no matter how badly I have to go to the loo (haha).

When you're on stage, are there any challenges or difficulties you encounter because of your visual impairment?

I don't have any difficulties because of my visual impairment when I perform, but if I had to say, I wouldn't know what to do if a raging bull got up from the audience and suddenly rushed onto the stage!

What are the attractions of Hyogo Prefecture? Is there any particular place that is special to you?

There are many sightseeing destinations where you can enjoy nature, such as Mt. Rokko. Wherever I run during the torch relay is going to become a special place for me.

Please give a message to your fans who always come to see you

I crave Kobe beef!