As of April 8, the Olympic flame has made its way through seven of Japan's 47 prefectures. Below are a few of the torch relay's most notable moments from its time in Aichi (Apr. 5-6) and Mie (Apr. 7-8).
Torchbearers come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, but it's not often you see one who's a robot. When Goto Akihito received the flame in Anjo City during the Aichi leg of the relay, a metallic companion of his rolled up to help carry it.
Later on that day, there was also an instance of a torchbearer who has an impairment with his legs participating in the relay through the aid of a telepresence robot (pictured at the top of this article).
While touring through Aichi, the relay visited the city of Handa, which holds a festival every April to celebrate the coming of spring. Chintoro boats are a traditional part of the celebration, so naturally the flame got to hitch a ride on one. Although these decorated boats are normally reserved for men only during the festival, that policy was amended for the relay to allow women to board as well.
The next day, during the Mie leg, the flame sailed once more — this time aboard a ferry on its way to the towns of Toba and Toshijima.
An Olympic wresting legend
Japan has long been the dominant country in women's wrestling, and the prefecture of Mie has produced two of those stars. Saori Yoshida is one of the sport's legends, having earned 13 world titles and three straight Olympic gold medals before her stunning loss to American Helen Maroulis in the 2016 Olympic final. She is from Mie, as is rising star Sara Dosho. Dosho won 69kg gold at her Olympic debut in 2016 (at age 21) and will try to repeat as champion in Tokyo.
Yoshida, who announced her retirement in 2019, participated in the torch relay when it came through Mie, running through a sports complex that was named after her. She then got to pass the flame off to her mother Yukiyo, who happened to be the next torchbearer.
Other notable torchbearers this week included a pair of Japanese designers who played a role in these Olympics. Hiromura Masaaki, who led the design process for the sport pictograms, carried the torch on the second day of the Aichi leg, and Kawanishi Junichi, who designed the medals, took a turn during the Mie leg.
The torch relay will continue on to Wakayama (Apr. 9-10) and Nara (Apr. 11-12) before arriving in Osaka. Due to local COVID-19 protocols, the Osaka leg of the relay will be largely scaled back. At the request of the local government, organizers agreed to move the relay off public roads and will instead hold a spectator-free event at a local park.
View the full schedule for the torch relay