Iwate Pref. metal behind midfielder Tanaka’s mettle

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ao Tanaka, center, holds a letter of appreciation given to him by Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso, left, with a display of Nambu Tekki ironware presented to him in the foreground on Wednesday in Tokyo.

Samurai Blue midfielder Ao Tanaka, 24, is a man of iron in the soccer world, as he incorporated Nambu Tekki ironware into his conditioning.

When Tanaka mentioned his unusual health hack on television, it sparked a surge of interest in the ironware, which is a traditional craft of Iwate Prefecture.

Iwate Prefecture presented a letter of appreciation Wednesday to Tanaka in Tokyo on Wednesday, along with a Nambu Tekki kettle. The prefecture’s Nambu Tekki association also gave him a pot and frying pan.

Last year, when Tanaka joined a team in Germany’s second division, he was bothered by the difficulty of finding iron-rich foods in that country. He then started using a Nambu Tekki kettle and improved the numbers on his blood test results, he said.

“I had an image that ironware was difficult to take care of, but in fact it’s very easy,” Tanaka said. “I’ve been able to maintain my condition in a stress-free way.”

Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso asked Tanaka to continue to promote the ironware, saying, “I want people in Japan and overseas to use Nambu Tekki.”

Tanaka replied with a laugh, “I don’t want to recommend it to other players, to be honest, because we are competing with each other.”