Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan seniors find joy in cheerleading

Japan seniors find joy in cheerleading

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of the Japanese senior cheerleading squad ‘Japan Pom Pom’ take part in a practice in Tokyo on Monday, as the city hosts the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. AFP

Japan seniors find joy in cheerleading

Cheering is frowned upon at the virus-postponed Olympics, but training continues at a Tokyo gym for an energetic squad of cheerleaders whose average age is 70.

To the beat of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, Fumie Takino, 89, twirled and waved her pompoms as her fellow cheerleaders showed off their standing splits.

“Members suffer from leg or back pain, but they’re working hard,” said Takino, who founded the senior cheerleading squad “Japan Pom Pom” when she was 64 years old.

There is a strict selection process for members, who must be over 55, and have to pass an audition and three-month trial period.

All applicants must also have “self-proclaimed good looks”, the squad stipulates.

They are currently rehearsing for their 25th-anniversary show, which was postponed until next year because of the pandemic.

Takino said it was once difficult to share her hobby with others, who didn’t see the appeal of senior cheerleading at first.

“I couldn’t say I was doing cheerleading . . . I struggled a lot.”

Their original sparkly costumes with a mini-skirt weren’t so popular either, she recalls.

But as the squad became better known and attracted the attention of local media, views about them changed, Takino said.

“There are many other groups like us . . . I think [senior cheerleading] has started to be widely accepted.”

Japan has the world’s oldest population, with around 28 per cent of the population aged 65 or over, according to the government.

Cheerleading is a fun way to stay fit for the “Japan Pom Pom” girls, who get together once a week for a rigorous two-hour practice with almost no break.

Masako Matsuoka, a 73-year-old member of the squad, said the activity is her “ikigai” – Japanese for purpose in life.

“It’s fun to do something different in your everyday life,” she explained.


  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.