If you’ve been following the lead-up to the start of the Tokyo Olympics online, then chances are that your enthusiasm for the Games isn’t quite at its peak.
In the end, however, the Olympics are about athletics. So if you want to recapture some of that magic, then following some athletes from Japan — or any country for that matter — might be a way to recapture some Olympic spirit.
Here are some of the standout social media stars from the host nation worth keeping tabs on over the next few weeks:
Tomoa Narasaki (@tomoa_narasaki, Instagram): Tokyo 2020 marks the debut of sport climbing in the Olympics. What better way to introduce yourself to this new event than by watching a world champion grapple with handholds on Instagram. Narasaki holds multiple IFSC Climbing World Cup titles in bouldering as well as the Japanese record for speed climbing.
He also lays claim to a social media presence on Instagram and YouTube (Tomoa / Akeyo / Ikidai) that makes his sport look especially cool. If you need to educate yourself on this new sport, Narasaki is one to keep an eye on.
Nozomi Okuhara (Nozomi Okuhara Channel, YouTube): An athlete’s social media accounts should really start by offering a look into how they prepare and train for a big competition. A truly well-curated account, though, will dive into elements of preparation that you normally wouldn’t expect to see.
Badminton player Okuhara’s YouTube channel includes plenty of footage of her getting ready for tournaments, but it also features uploads devoted to cooking and how she spends her time between events. She complements these with equally active Instagram (@okuharanozomi) and Twitter (@nozomi_o11) accounts.
Ryota Yamagata (@y.ryo34, Instagram): Yamagata is a talented track and field athlete who’s known for being Japan’s fastest man. The reason his Instagram stands out, though, is because of all the fish on there — many of which he’s caught himself and then turned into meals. The captain of the country’s delegation at the Games, here’s hoping he reels in something good from his year’s sporting event.
Eri Yonamine (eriyonamine, Note): Credit to cyclist Eri Yonamine’s Twitter (@YonamineEri), written in English and giving us scenes from her life in Europe with light-hearted and humorous posts. It’s sure to charm cycling fans over the next two weeks of the Games.
She goes deeper into her experiences on the Japanese blogging platform Note, however, detailing her journey to Tokyo. Those entries are all in Japanese but, after seeing how hard she trains, you’ll surely have the urge to work hard and get your language skills to Olympic levels.
Risako Kawai (@risako_kawai, Instagram): Some athlete’s Instagram accounts feel forced, like staging areas for personal PR and opportunities for sponsorship posts. However, Olympic wrestler Kawai, a gold medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics, feels like a natural on the platform.
Her posts show her goofing off with coaches, getting her hair done and taking selfies with her team. It’s entertaining and, just as importantly, updated frequently. Honorable mention to her teammate Yui Susaki (@yui106301susaki), who mixes shots of training with trips to Disneyland.
Atsushi Arai (@a2desu, TikTok): There aren’t too many Japanese Olympians on TikTok, and those that are don’t offer up the kind of entertainment that the platform is known for.
Thank goodness for water polo player Arai, who engages in dances, challenges and other random fun stuff. Give him a follow and some likes, and hopefully your TikTok algorithm will start shifting to more Olympics-related content that will get you feeling sporty and full of spirit. For those who aren’t on TikTok, you can still check Arai out on YouTube.
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