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Name: Yasuo Hazaki
Age: 66
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Professor of social science
Likes: Praise
Dislikes: Abuse


1. What do you miss most about Japan when you are overseas? I miss the sound of Japanese being spoken. I was once sent a tape of girls speaking Japanese when I was overseas — it was cute and marvelous.

2. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “Seiseidōdō” (fair and square). In the spirit of detachment, it’s best to confront everything honestly, without fear.

3. What’s your favorite phrase in any language?Odoru ahō ni miru ahō. Dōse ahō nara odoranya son son” (Literally, “There are two fools: one of them is dancing, the other one is watching. If you’re a fool, why not dance?”). It’s part of a refrain of the traditional Awa Odori dance in Tokushima. I try to always keep this in my mind.

4. If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone from history, who would it be? I would like to spend time with my ancestor, Mitsunao Hazaki. He was the chief of a powerful clan in Gifu Prefecture 600 years ago and the first man to call himself Hazaki.

5. What song best describes your work ethic? Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero.” It increases tempo gradually until it reaches a glorious climax.

6. What do you think about while standing on the train? I’m always trying to guess who is going to get off the train first from what’s going on around me.

7. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? When I was working for National Children’s Castle (in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward), my children were young. One day, they asked me to stop playing with other kids and spend more time with them. This completely baffled me.

8. You launched the International Onigokko Association in 2010 to spur global interest in onigokko (team tag). What first attracted you to the sport? Watching people who don’t usually enjoy sports realize how wonderful the game is.

9. Please explain onigokko to someone who has never heard of it before in a single sentence. Once upon a time, there was a demon who loved to chase mischievous kids.

10. Can anyone play? I think everyone can enjoy playing it but, ultimately, it depends on the individual.

11. Can you divulge any secret tips to playing the game? Don’t forget your sense of humor, make sure you have fun and use your wisdom.

12. What kind of equipment/sportswear do you need to play onigokko? Basically nothing. Players should wear a sports shirt that is a tight fit on their body in order to help the referees determine whether or not they are touched.

13. What does Tokyo need to do to make the 2020 Games successful? Wash the rust out of the golden Olympic principles and remember the city’s former day in the sun.

14. What more be done to promote onigokko? Coaches should be educated, focusing on the ways in which participants can enjoy it. It would also help to be supported by media outlets nationwide.

15. If you could play onigokko against any country in the world, which one would you compete against? Italy. I was once invited to participate in the World Cup of Nascondino (Italian for “hide and seek”).

16. You say onigokko unites people and allows communities to become stronger. Besides sports, what do you think brings people closer? People can feel closer to each other by communicating thoughtfully.

17. Why did you choose onigokko, not other traditional games such as kakurenbo (hide and seek) or oshikura manjū (a type of shoving competition)? Onigokko is the king of games — kakurenbo or oshikura manju can both be played in the same way.

18. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? A tiger. A tiger is good at climbing trees and swimming, and it fights strategically. A tiger is also better in one-on-one fights.

19. What do you dream of doing after you retire? I want to live as a hermit on top of a mountain, eating nothing and watching the world go by below me peacefully.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Even if you don’t think you are special, you should always have your own ambition.

The International Onigokko Association will hold its fourth national competition on Monday. For more information, visit bit.ly/1Km6JIl.

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