Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics in Japan (Team Routine)

Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics -- although it originated in Japan and has more than 60 years history in this country, this unique, beautiful and thrilling sport is struggling to survive. Currently there are about 1,300 players involved in this sport. Compared to baseball or football, the number is extremely small. One of the reasons for its sluggish growth is that there is no world cup or Olympic games for MRG. There were some attempts trying to introduce MRG to countries outside Japan, but it may well be said that it is almost exclusively within Japan that we can see their performances in competitions or events.

One of the rare and valuable opportunities that people who live outside Japan can watch their performance is Gymnaestrada hosted by FIG (International Gymnastics Federation). In the following video, MRG team from Kokushikan University (Tokyo) amazed the audience at Gymnaestrada 2015 in Helsinki, Finland last week.

Here's another MRG performance from FIG 125th anniversary Gala in Geneva, 2006.

Amazingly, they were high school students of Aomori Yamada high school. Their coach, Mr. Sakae Arakawa, a leading figure in MRG in Japan wrote in his book that they had all recognized the possible impact of their performance on the future of MRG; it was a long-awaited opportunity to show officers or other athletes how marvelous MRG could be. If they could impress them, it would possibly mean that they took a further step toward spreading this sport across the globe. Under such pressure, they did show incredible artistry in movements called "toshu", and their flips in perfect synchronization with music were met with rapturous applause.

Among these boys is the future Cirque du Soleil performer, Naruhito Tonosaki. He is now on the road for "Varekai", where five MRG performers from different MRG team (Aomori Universitiy, Hanazono University, Kokushikan University) compose the "synchronized tumbling" act.

Another "must-see" masterpiece performed by high school students is this:

They were Ibara high school students in Okayama. Ibara has been one of the best high school teams for the past decade with its unbelievable flexibility, originality and creativity.

With the next inter-highschool and inter-college athletic competition coming in August, I have a lot more to report. Next article will cover individual performances -- a great showcase of wide variety of talents.

[Follow me on Twitter @ma2mo10at_n to keep informed of any updates.]