[Center News] Press Release for GO Journal! Creative Director Ninagawa and Rio Medalist Tsuji Attend
The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center launched GO Journal, a free magazine aimed to communicate the excitement of para sports, the performance of para athletes, and the culture surrounding the para sports community. The center held a press release at Ginza Tsutaya Books to celebrate the publication of the first issue.
The press release was held in an attractive high-ceiling space surrounded by tall bookcases, with photos from the first issue featuring Sae Tsuji (short distance athletics), Atsushi Yamamoto (long jump) and Kazuki Takahashi (boccia) sporting his signature mushroom cut hairstyle.
(Back row from left) Nobuyuki Asaba, Corporate Officer and Department Manager of Dai Nippon Printing ; Yasushi Yamawaki, Chairman of the Paralympic Support Center; Masaaki Nakamura, Rugby World Cup/Olympic and Paralympic Promotion Project Sub Chief and Managing Executive Officer of Canon. (Front row from left) Shunichi Suzuki, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games; Mika Ninagawa, Creative Director of GO Journal; Sae Tsuji; Kazuki Takahashi; Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
An innovative magazine aimed to increase para sports fans
Ninagawa: "I feel very emotional, but this is just the start."
The press release started with words of gratitude from Yasushi Yamawaki, Chairman of the Paralympic Support Center, to Mika Ninagawa, the magazine's creative director. "GO Journal offers substantial content that is both fashionable and trendy. We have never seen anything like it before. Thank you for creating such an innovative artistic magazine."
Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and top advisor to the Paralympic Support Center, also attended the conference. He appealed to the many members of the press with the words, "We are working hard towards 2020, but there are still many obstacles to overcome. For example, there are hardly any hotels in Tokyo that are completely wheelchair friendly. I hope you take this opportunity to become interested in this topic (of problems surrounding people with disabilities)."
The day also kicked off the "GO Journal First Issue Para Athlete Photography Exhibition " (admission free, limited number of GO Journal first issue to be offered to visitors). The exhibition is a Cabinet Secretariat trial research project for the "Basic Policy for Promoting the Olympic and Paralympic Games " and will be held until Monday, December 27, at Ginza Tsutaya Books. Shunichi Suzuki, Minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, said, "The public still shows greater interest in the Olympics. We must promote a better understanding of the Paralympics within the next three years. This art magazine shows an aspect of para athletes that differs from the image held by the general public, and I believe this will help promote an understanding of para sports."
A talk show and boccia trial session to communicate the deep appeal of para sports
TV announcer Nakai holding the first issue
The next part was a talk show by Creative Director Ninagawa and Tsuji, Rio Paralympic medalist in athletics and cover girl of the first issue.
Emcee Miho Nakai (TV announcer) started the talk by asking Ninagawa her thoughts on the completion of GO Journal. Ninagawa said she is very pleased: "It came out more stunning than I thought. The paper has a nice weight to it, and I think people will want to keep it." She also talked about her creative process: "I want people who are not interested in para sports to pick this up. It can be from simple curiosity, just wanting to know what it is. I created it hoping that it can help in promoting (an interest in para sports)."
Multiple photographers contributed to the magazine, and the cover of the commemorable first issue is a photograph taken by Ninagawa herself. She says she "fell in love" with Tsuji at the Rio airport on her way to attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games last year.
Tsuji says she never experienced this type of "fashion" photo shoot, but "Mika and the other staff members helped to bring out my natural self. It was a lot of fun and I would love to do it again." She is very satisfied with the results: "For the photo on the cover, I was told to imagine a gold medal in front of me and focus on it. It combines everything, including my mental state during competitions, a fashionable feel, and Mika's unique sensibility."
When asked about her ambitions for Tokyo, Tsuji answered, "I want a gold medal. I want to see the Japanese flag and hear the Japanese anthem, and discover a new self."
The talk show had a moment that exposed Tsuji's "internal strength," which is what Ninagawa says she fell in love with.
When asked if she usually wears prosthetics, Tsuji unequivocally answered, "I have been living like this since the day I was born, even tying my hair and shoelaces. There are things I can do because I am like this. I would be the same, whether wearing a fake arm or not. On the other hand, I want to be accepted for who I am. I have no intention of changing (for example using technologically advanced myoelectric prosthetics)."
Ninagawa talked about episodes from the photo shoot. "I had thought carefully about the balance of how to show her prosthetic, for example with complex clothing. But the non-existence of her hand became irrelevant and in the end I forgot all about it. All in all, she was awesome."
Takahashi, Japanese representative at the Rio Paralympics in boccia, next came on stage for a boccia trial session. Ninagawa had never played the game, but Tsuji says she had held boccia balls before and threw an impressive shot. Then came a demonstration from Takahashi.
Takahashi said, "It is a universal sport that anyone can play, but the appeal is when you try it and find out how difficult and complex it can be."
Takahashi's classification is for athletes with the most severe disabilities, and he uses a ramp to roll the ball. He gave instructions on the ramp's placing and angle to his assistant ("A little to the left, a little more, now to the right...") and rolled the ball right up to the target ball. The crowd was impressed with his athlete's persistence and accurate aim.
November 29 marked 1,000 days to the Tokyo Paralympics. Ninagawa ended the talk with the words, "My job is to continue putting out quality content."
A demonstration by Takahashi, highlighting the fun of boccia
Ginza Tsutaya Books was packed with members of the press.
GO Journal is an A3 size, tabloid format free magazine scheduled to be issued twice a year. It will be available at Tsutaya bookstores (Ginza, Daikanyama, Nakameguro, Kyoto Okazaki, Umeda, Hiroshima T-SITE, Ropponmatsu) and other locations. Translations into Chinese, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian will be available on nippon.com, a multi-language website subsidized by the Nippon Foundation.
We sincerely hope people will see the appeal of the athletes through GO Journal and the "First Issue Para Athlete Photography Exhibition."
text&photo by Parasapo