Yurika Nozawa has been learning kendo for five years
Q: What made you start kendo?
A: I thought my elder brother Yuta looked good when he was doing it, so I started going to practices at Onuma Elementary School when I was in the first grade.
Q: How often do you practice?
A: There are three practices a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I don't like missing a session, so I'm almost never absent. In fact, it's my parents who worry and tell me "it's all right to rest a little if it's too hard."
Yurika attacks an opening in her opponent's defense.
Q: Have you changed at all since beginning kendo?
A: Well, I've probably become mentally tougher. Now I tease my elder brothers about their kendo skills.
Q: What has given you the most pleasure in practicing kendo?
A: When I was in second grade, I entered a city tournament and won the section for first and second graders. My two older brothers, Yuta and Kota, had not finished high in this tournament, so my father was even more delighted than me. He bought me a bamboo sword guard as a reward. Transparent purple. A really nice one.
Yurika helps her friends put on their facemasks
Q: Do you think you will continue kendo after entering middle school?
A: Of course. I have a rival called Nao Tsuchiya. She's very good at faking a hit to the men [face] and actually striking the kote [forearm]. When I was in fifth grade, I lost to her in the final of the city tournament when she hit my forearm. Nao lives some distance away, so we'll be going to different junior high schools, but we both say that we'll be joining our school clubs, so I'm looking forward to competing with her again.