The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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A yo-yo dancing in the sky!
Aiming to be a world champion with skillful techniques and calm analysis!

Mr. Yohei Kagawa

Mr. Kagawa's white yo-yo flies freely through the sky, almost as if it is a living thing. Perhaps it isn't attached to a string? "The division I participate in is called 'off-string.' The string is simply wrapped around the center, and you perform for three minutes." Yo-yos have a long history, and there are vases from Ancient Greece made before 500 BC that show people playing with them. "Yo-yos have gone in and out of popularity in Japan, but in my case I was inspired to start by the 'Hyper Yo-Yo' that Bandai sold about twelve years ago."

Mr. Kagawa's fingers are very skillful, and he learned all sorts of techniques one after another. Once he gained more proficiency, he thought that he wanted to get better and learn more high-level tricks. "I'm naturally rather argumentative, so perhaps that's why I decided to get better as quickly as possible," he said, laughing. He studied and analyzed the hobby through DVDs and other materials, and also practiced. That's when he learned about a group of people with similar interests and started proactively participating. There's one thing he noticed as he moved forward, switching from district to national competitions. "You can only practice for so long. After thinking about the most effective way to practice, I thought that the most important thing was making fewer mistakes and not dropping the yo-yo. So how do you reduce your mistakes? The answer is simply accurately controlling the yo-yo with its string, but..." That's the most difficult thing. "Therefore, instead of imagining it falling towards a single point, I was conscious of handling it on an entire level plane." In other words, he decided to move in such a way that he could control his yo-yo in a wide scope. As a result, he rapidly decreased the number of times he dropped his yo-yo, and "became able to move in a balanced way," he said, smiling with satisfaction. "But if you knew how many times I messed up before I became able to do that...my floor at home is covered with marks from where I dropped my yo-yo, which made my mother cry," he said with a laugh.

Mr. Kagawa was initially interested in making things. "It sounds impertinent, but I've always wanted to leave proof of my life. I thought that I wanted to be involved in technological manufacturing, which is why I entered Waseda." Currently, he is part of the Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering's Quality Management Laboratory. His research deals with analysis for the highest quality electric razor, analyzing the sense of touching the buttons and shave quality. Doesn't this have something to do with learning yo-yo tricks? "Yes, it actually does. The process of investigating how to make something better is basically the same, whether it's quality research or yo-yos."

There are some moments when he hesitates to say "I love yo-yos!" "Until you actually see a trick being performed, it can sound kind of childish," he said, laughing sadly. But yo-yos are part of his personality, and are an important communication tool. "I like yo-yos, and I realized at Waseda that I need to share this without being embarrassed." He's currently working hard to refine his skills even further for the World Contest in August.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Yohei Kagawa

Born in 1986 in Tokyo. Graduated from Waseda University Senior High School and is currently a second year student in the Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering. In 2008, he took third place in the Off-String Division of the World Yo-Yo Contest. In 2009, he won the grand prize at the Off-String Division of the National Competition. In August, he will participate in an international competition held in Florida (the United States) and is aiming for the top prize. For people who want to know more about yo-yoing, he says "the comic book 'Fast Spinner' by Takashi Hashiguchi is great!"