WIDER IMAGE ‘Try anything’: Japan’s silver-haired cheer-dancing squad

David J. Holcomb

Pompoms rustle and silver footwear flash as “Japan Pom Pom” tactics, transferring to a lively cheer dance defeat. With users ages 60 to 89, they’re no common squad.

But don’t you dare contact them grannies.

“Right at the begin, we were not pretty happy about being referred to as ‘granny cheer dancers,'” claims Fumie Takino, the bubbly, energetic 89-calendar year-outdated who launched Japan Pom Pom – average age, 72 several years – extra than 25 a long time ago.

(Open https://reut.rs/3testUq in an external browser to see a photograph bundle of Japan Pom Pom.)

At a current weekly follow, resumed soon after a yr off, mask-putting on users checked temperatures right before stretching, then moved into their dance routines – socially distanced, of training course.

However most wore sweatpants and t-shirts with a glittery “Japan Pom Pom”, for performances they don sequined, mini-skirted cheer costumes. For just one regime, Takino wears a leather-based biker jacket and shades in a different, all activity silver wigs.

“It is really dancing shifting your physique is awesome,” she mentioned. “And the costumes are unbelievably showy. Some individuals sign up for just so they can use them.”

Originally began with five people today 26 decades in the past just after Takino saw an abroad senior cheer squad in the information, the team now has 17 energetic members. Members, all older than 55, must move auditions.

Now the team is highlighted in government pamphlets about lively seniors, appears periodically in Television set reviews, and performs in preferred charity shows.

Fumie Takino, 89, founder of a senior cheer squad termed Japan Pom Pom, and other users pose for commemorative pictures just before filming a dance program for an on the net efficiency in Tokyo, Japan, April 12, 2021. “It is dancing relocating your overall body is awesome,” Takino explained. “And the costumes are unbelievably showy. Some people today sign up for just so they can dress in them.” REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan, a person of the world’s most speedily ageing nations, with just about 30{8fbaae1bd749f41dfbc78ee17dd04a5d6ed95f74dc0ab42c17aab038a1ade32b} of its inhabitants more mature than 65, is acknowledged for the longevity of its seniors. But acceptance of the squad took time in a country with preset notions about senior life.

“We went to a senior-citizens club, and they really didn’t like us. They didn’t smile even at the time. ‘Japanese gals, putting on matters like that, at their ages!'” Takino recalls. “Now, I think about 50 percent of people today are alright with us and fifty percent nevertheless cannot accept us.”

Customers comment about the enhance from practicing jointly and Takino’s optimistic outlook.

“As our leader states, test nearly anything,” reported Tami Shimada, 69. “If you are fascinated in a thing, neglect about your age, overlook about folks declaring it is really no fantastic for that motive … I think that prospects to a motive to dwell.”

Takino, who has a few grandchildren and a few good-grandchildren, with yet another on the way, methods what she preaches.

She’s experimented with scuba-diving, parasailing, ukulele and sky-diving, which she calls “the greatest,” and received a master’s diploma in the U.S. in her 50s. Now she also scientific studies Spanish, attends a dance course for seniors and requires walks. She’s obsessed with laptop solitaire.

Every single night time, she drinks a smaller beer, and states an appendectomy has been her only well being concern so significantly.

Takino can’t feel she’ll be 90 up coming 12 months, but reluctantly confesses she isn’t going to imagine she’ll continue to be cheering at 100, while the team wants her to.

“The very last three or 4 several years I have started to come to feel drained a great deal far more quickly. Then obtaining to be residence for the reason that of the pandemic genuinely meant my endurance fell. I never really feel just about anything although I’m practising, but then the following working day I feel rather fatigued,” she reported. “I neglect anything though I am dancing.”

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Concepts.

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