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IAAF World Relays Notebook - Day 2

Saturday May 11 2019

Senior citizens, aged over 70 years, play a game of football at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama on May 10, 2019. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

Senior citizens, aged over 70 years, play a game of football at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama on May 10, 2019. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Japanese are a friendly people


I was taken aback by the Japanese people’s humility and readiness to assist. It’s extremely unlikely for one to get completely lost in Japanese cities, thanks to the locals’ spirit of willingness to help.

As I sought a train ticket booth at the Shin-Yokohama Station, one of the attendants left his work station to walk me to a vending machine and, later, to my train platform as I looked for the train to Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka Station.

Then in Jiyugaoka, I asked a stranger for directions to the Kenyan embassy and was dumbfounded when he abandoned his trip and walked me for 10 minutes to the gate of the embassy at Yakumo, Meguru-ku. It’s rare to find such gems in Kenyan cities …

Women only trains: Keep off men!

Another striking observation is in Japan’s public transport system which has provision for train carriages reserved exclusively for women along with children, people with disability and their handlers.

The move is also part of Japan’s efforts to fight against sexual harassment and protect female passengers from unwarranted attention. Groping, or chikan in Japanese, is considered a serious offence with anyone found guilty liable to pay a fine of up to an equivalent of Sh500,000 or face a prison term.

Train companies prominently display which cabins are reserved for women and people with disability, and on which days and times they ply as exclusive cars as part of checking the groping population.

Tokyo Olympics tickets go on sale


Close to one year to the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the final countdown started in earnest yesterday with the launch of the tickets lottery for the Games on Friday.

The lottery, for Japan-based fans only, will run until 11.59pm on May 28 with the results set to be announced on June 20 this year and the winners required to pay for the tickets by July 2.

Some 7.8 million tickets will be available for the Games with 20 to 30 per cent reserved for people coming from outside Japan. Over 11,000 athletes are expected to compete in 33 sports during the July 24 to August 9 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Costs of tickets for the Games ranging between Sh12, 000 and Sh300, 000.

Senior citizens’ enjoying a football kickabout in town common sight here

I was impressed on Friday, as I strolled around Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, to see senior citizens featuring in a competitive game of football.

The veterans, aged over 70, passed with precision, played balls into open spaces and let go ferocious goal-bound shots with hardly any physical contact during the fixture.

In fact, the octogenarian referee’s whistle blew just for offsides, throw-ins and goal-kicks. Japan’s senior citizens keep themselves going by engaging in active sport, with the Japan Football Association running seniors leagues for players over 40, 50, 60 and 70 years of age.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that Japan has the world’s highest life expectancy at an average of 85.7 years, largely fuelled by the healthy, active lifestyles.