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Nagoya group looks to spread jump rope ‘culture’ to the world

Chunichi Shimbun

In Aichi Prefecture, the nation’s top producing region of jump ropes, efforts are being made to promote the sport at home and abroad.

Japan Jump Rope Project (JJRP), a nonprofit organization based in Nagoya’s Moriyama Ward, has applied to designate July 8 as Rope Day. It has also donated jump ropes to schools overseas and to disaster-hit regions.

In mid-March, the organization held the first Jump Rope Summit and the National Jump Rope Speed Contest in Nagoya.

The group also plans to utilize jump ropes for preventive care and international exchanges, as well as forming an idol group of rope jumpers.

“It was the moment when a jump rope drastically changed a person’s life,” said 34-year-old Hiroyuki Katayama at the summit held in Nagoya’s Naka Ward, as he shared the story of the time when he delivered 1,210 jump ropes to an elementary school in Nepal.

The ropes he delivered to Nepal are meant for beginners and make a loud sound when they hit the floor. He recounted how he saw a blind girl learn how to play just by listening to the sound.

A member of JJRP, Katayama runs the jump rope school Roco in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

At the end of the summit, the estimated 50 participants adopted a joint declaration with the goal of further expanding the popularity and potential uses of jump ropes.

JJRP was established in the summer of 2013 with roughly 30 members. They asked Beltec Co., a jump rope manufacturer based in Moriyama, to let them borrow a small corner of the company’s factory in order to plan visits to elementary schools and teach jump rope techniques, organize a class to make jump ropes, and conduct other activities.

After the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes last April, the group visited evacuation shelters in the area and distributed 200 jump ropes to cheer the children up.

The group is also researching other ways of using jump ropes, such as incorporating dance moves and music as an exercise routine, or developing moves so that those who are bedridden can also enjoy the exercise.

There are also an increasing number of children freestyling to light music on their jump ropes and creating their own original dances.

“There are children with great techniques who outshine adults,” said Keiko Suzuki, 55, chairman of JJRP. “I want to gather such children and form an idol group.”

A day after the summit, the National Jump Rope Speed Contest was held at Nagoya’s Higashi Ward under two categories: Single Rope, which counts the number of jumps made in 30 seconds, and Double Dutch, where participants jump on two long jump ropes turning in opposite directions.

Approximately 70 elementary school students from around the country who passed the preliminary rounds participated to the passionate cheers of supporters.

“Jump ropes have always been played and loved by everyone and the style has not changed even to this day,” said Wakato Hayashi, 37, vice head of the organization.

“I think it can be called a ‘culture’ and this culture is something I want to spread (to the rest of the world) from Nagoya.”

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on April 1.