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Traditional Japanese doll maker Kyugetsu Co. unveiled Thursday colorful wooden hagoita battledores featuring nine people who attracted widespread public attention this year, including Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga who took office in September.

Hagoita are used in hanetsuki, a traditional Japanese game that is similar to badminton and played mainly during the New Year holidays.

This year, a total of seven hagoita were produced for the annual exhibition, other public figures adorning the paddles include U.S. President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, who faced off in a close presidential election, and professional shogi player Sota Fujii, the youngest-ever holder of any two of the eight major titles for the Japanese board game.

An employee of Kyugetsu displays hagoita wooden battledores decorated with images of U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, at the company's showroom in Tokyo on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI
An employee of Kyugetsu displays hagoita wooden battledores decorated with images of U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, at the company’s showroom in Tokyo on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI

Also appearing on the paddles are Masato Sakai, the actor who performs the leading role in hit television drama Hanzawa Naoki, and swimmer Rikako Ikee, who returned to competition after a battle with leukemia.

“We struggled with the selection of people for this year’s hagoita as the year began with the coronavirus, but I am glad we were able to reveal them,” Kyugetsu board director Susumu Watanabe, 66, said. “We put into the paddles our wishes that the coronavirus epidemic will end as soon as possible and cheerful topics will increase next year.”

The hagoita-unveiling event, held at Kyugetsu’s headquarters in Tokyo, was the 35th of its kind. The company makes the special hagoita as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the paddles.

After being exhibited at the headquarters until Friday, the hagoita will be on display at department stores around the country.

An employee of Kyugetsu displays hagoita wooden battledores featuring people who attracted public attention in 2020. | AFP-JIJI
An employee of Kyugetsu displays hagoita wooden battledores featuring people who attracted public attention in 2020. | AFP-JIJI

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