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Japan’s 100th Hakone Ekiden Trophy Represents Late Artisan’s Wishes for Brighter Future

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nana Kanazashi, wife of the late traditional craftsman Katsuhiro, talks about the 100th Tokyo-Hakone Intercollegiate Ekiden trophy at the Hakone municipal government office in Kanagawa Prefecture.

HAKONE, Kanagawa — The new trophy for the 100th Tokyo-Hakone Intercollegiate Ekiden relay race set for Jan. 2 and 3 was handed over to the Hakone municipal government on Wednesday.

The trophy is crafted using Hakone Yosegizaiku woodcraft and is the final work of the late traditional craftsman Katsuhiro Kanazashi, who began making the trophies 27 years ago and died in July 2022 at the age of 82.

The trophy, which will be awarded to the first day’s winning team, represents the hope Kanazashi had for a brighter future.

The Hakone government had commissioned Kanazashi to create trophies for the annual relay since the 73rd race. However, after being diagnosed with a type of blood cancer nine years ago, he had been repeatedly hospitalized. Despite such challenges, he was determined to make the trophies up to the 100th race. Kanazashi had completed the main portion of what would be his final piece by around April 2022, and his disciples completed the base after his death.

The main part of the trophy is a circular object, which is 23.5 centimeters in diameter, and features a cloisonne pattern symbolizing peace, connection and happiness. The base features parting clouds that left the sunlight through.

“My husband was deeply pained by [Russia’s] aggression toward Ukraine and fervently wished for peace,” said Kanazashi’s wife Nana, 65.

Nana added that she and Kanazashi’s disciples will continue creating trophies for the relay.

The trophy for the 100th race will be on display at the Hakone Museum of History and Folklore through Wednesday and will be presented to the winning team by Hakone Mayor Hiroyuki Katsumata on Jan. 2 at the first day’s finish line at Ashinoko lake.