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‘Macho’ photo contest hopes to boost demolition industry’s image, draw more workers

Chunichi Shimbun

An unprecedented online photo contest highlighting demolition workers was held recently to raise public awareness of their profession in a chronically understaffed industry.

The wrecking ball industry is struggling to find workers because many people have the impression that it is a tough job, so demolition workers rolled up their sleeves to show their mettle and provided the Macho Photo Contest for Demolition Workers with 68 photos.

Many of the men took their shirts off and demonstrated bulging arms, big chests and six pack abs in various poses.

Others wore a suit and tie while conducting paperwork, and another posed with his child near the driver’s seat of a heavy-duty machine, to give viewers a glimpse of their daily life.

Nagoya-based Crassone Co., which manages websites related to housing and construction, held the contest from February to April.

Overseeing the competition was a panel of six judges that included a manga artist and a magazine editor.

The results were announced in early May and the overall winner was Yusuke Nagasaka, 27, from Hekinan, Aichi Prefecture, who works for a demolition company based in nearby Anjo.

Until five years ago, Nagasaka was a member of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s elite paratrooper squad, where he had to undergo strict training.

The judges praised Nagasaka for having a “striking body with his wide chest and thick neck.”

When he joined his current company, he carried six to seven kawara (roof tiles) — a total of around 20 kg — up and down the scaffolding all day long.

Nagasaka maintains his physique through his job alone, and does not work out at a gym.

Both his father and grandfather were demolition workers and he had always admired his father’s vocation.

When Nagasaka was young, he often watched his father work tirelessly as sweat poured down his back.

“Regardless of the temperature, come rain or shine, we are there working. It’s a tough job, but it has a lot of pull, such as the sense of unity that I share with my colleagues and the sense of achievement we feel when we have finished a job,” Nagasaka explained.

He took part in the contest at the recommendation of his supervisor.

“Now I can proudly show my 1-year-old son that I am doing a cool job,” he said happily.

“It is a physically demanding job, but they do not get a lot of money for it, so many young people quit not long after joining the company,” an industry insider said. “The current workers are aging and we’re having difficulty getting enough manpower.”

One of the judges, manga artist Sadayoshi Ishii, drew pictures for a story about a demolition worker that ran in a manga magazine.

“This industry has an image of being rough, but (the contest had) many cheerful and funny photos, so I think that will change people’s perception,” Ishii, 58, said.

The photos can be viewed at http://crassone.jp/photocon_photo/ .

While Nagasaka was the overall winner, the best smile award was given to Kenji Takahashi, 38, of Gifu; the “dandy” award went to Kadir Akdeniz, a 40-year-old Turkish resident of Nagoya; the most “likes” award went to Masato Nakashima, 36, of Nagoya; and the best muscles prize was won by Yukihito Hida, 32, of Ome, western Tokyo.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published May 27.