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Japan Pom Pom

© Laura Liverani/Prospekt

'As you grow older, your self-image does not age with you. You think your face is still the one you had when you were 30 years younger'
[Fumie Takino, cheerleader]

Japan Pom Pom is a team of senior cheerleaders based in Tokyo. Decided to stand against age stereotypes, now 89 year old Fumie Takino founded the pom pom squad in 1996. Today the group counts around 30 members, aged from 65 to 85 years old. They train weekly at a local senior centre and perform yearly at various venues and occasions, ranging from sports to charity events. The pom dancers have performed at nursing homes, participated in international cheerleading competitions. and raised millions of yens for charity after the 2011 earthquake. In 2016 they celebrated their 20th anniversary. Their popularity seems to be growing, as they appear frequently on Japanese television and are featured in both national and international media.

As one of the fastest aging societies in the world, today Japan is facing unprecedented social and economic challenges which are at the centre of the public debate. Raising awareness on aging while fundraising for charities is the main mission of the cheerleading squad. However, keeping fit and having fun is also one of the reasons why the ladies get together. In addition, according to founder Fumie Takino, they have an excuse to wear miniskirts and glitters that most people would consider inappropriate for their age. Japan Pom Pom members have a training uniform with their own designed logo, while their individual costumes are especially sourced from the US.

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