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May 2002

I Held the World Cup!


Kids in Japan got their hands on one of the most famous trophies in the world, the soccer World Cup, during the trophy's tour of the 10 Japanese World Cup host cities in March.


The trophy kicked off its tour at Prime Minister Jun'ichiro Koizumi's official residence on March 8. The Prime Minister picked up the 36-cm (14-inch) tall 18-carat gold trophy and said, "It's a lot heavier than I expected." The trophy is solid gold and weighs nearly five kilograms!

The trophy went to Yokohama the next day, where about 45,000 people gathered to see it. Rei Fujii, a second grader, held the trophy and said, "I hope I can become a soccer player and win the trophy some day!" Of course, there were too many people for everyone to hold it that day, but nobody was disappointed because there was a lot of other entertainment on too.



About 340 students from nine local elementary schools put on a show where they taught everyone about the cultures of the five foreign countries that will be playing in Yokohama - Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Ecuador, and Croatia - and sang the national anthems and folk songs of those countries. About 100 students from Sengendai and Nishimae Elementary Schools also gave a great performance of a Russian folk dance.

In Kashima City on March 24 students from Mikasa Elementary School sang the Nigerian national anthem during the trophy's visit. They also delighted the crowd by holding an English interview with life-size dolls of two Nigerian players. The kids at Namino Elementary wanted to sing the national anthem of Croatia but couldn't find a CD with it on, so instead they read out a message of support they had written in Croatian.

event in Rifu

event in Rifu

On March 31 the cup made its way to Sendai and into the hands of kids there. At an event to welcome the trophy, kids from six elementary schools in the town of Rifu, where Miyagi Stadium is located, went on stage to present what they had learned in the "one school, three countries" program. As well as speaking about topics like the food and cooking of the countries, some students put on traditional Ecuadorean costumes and performed a dance from Ecuador. Before the event, some schools had invited people from Ecuador and Costa Rica to visit and show them how to dance, so they were able to put on a great show for everyone.

The famous cup finished the Japanese leg of its tour in Sapporo on April 7 and flew to Korea, where it will tour the 10 Korean host cities, ending in Seoul for the start of the World Cup on May 31.

Photos: (Top) Kids get their hands on the World Cup (Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun); (second) Kids at Mikasa Elementary introduce Nigeria (the sign says Naijeria, Nigeria in Japanese); (third) Kids at Toyosato Elementary send a message of support to the German team (both Kashima City); (fourth) Kids perform on stage in Sendai; (bottom) Dancing the Macarena in Sendai (both Rifu Town).

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