Title:JAPAN: Senior citizens compete in national bodybuilding competition
Date:22nd September 2009
Summary:TOKYO, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 20, 2009) (REUTERS)
74-YEAR-OLD JAPANESE BODYBUILDER, TSUTOMU TOSAKA, WALKING ON STAGE AT JAPAN'S MASTERS BODYBUILDING COMPETITION 2009
TOSAKA AND OTHER SENIOR BODYBUILDERS POSING ON STAGE
TOSAKA AND SENIOR BODYBUILDER POSING
TOSAKA TIGHTENING MUSCLE AND POSING
MORE OF TOSAKA POSING
TOSAKA AND OTHER SENIOR BODYBUILDERS POSING
TOSAKA TIGHTENING MUSCLE AND POSING
TOSAKA, WEARING 1ST PLACE MEDAL, STANDING ON STAGE
TOSAKA POSING ON WINNER'S STAGE
For Tsutomu Tosaka, age is just a number when it comes to looking young and healthy.
At one of Japan's biggest bodybuilding competitions, the 74-year-old Tosaka was happy to show off his muscles as he walked proudly across the stage.
Tosaka and his fellow senior bodybuilders clenched their muscles in front of a much younger audience in Tokyo on Sunday (September 20), a day ahead of Japan's Day of Respect for the Elderly.
Tosaka won first place last year amongst other super senior citizens who are 70-years-old and above, and returned on stage to win another title at this year's Japan Masters Bodybuilding competition joining more than a hundred proud bodybuilders from all walks of life.
The competitors are judged on their muscle conditions and poses - both in group and solo performances.
Tosaka's younger colleagues introduced him to bodybuilding as he participated in a competition as an audience member when he was in his forties.
After hearing about a senior competition being held in Tokyo, Tosaka decided to compete in the masters league in 1998.
Since then, Tosaka has landed first place in various tiers including the over 50, 60, 65 and 70-year-old category.
Tosaka says he worked even harder for this year's competition as a younger rival came close to stealing his crown.
"I was nervous until I heard the final result and I was more relieved than excited. The guy who came in second place goes to my gym and he's been working out a lot lately. He's also two years younger, so I really wasn't sure if I would win till the last minute!" Tosaka told Reuters backstage after the competition.
The annual competition began more than 20 years ago but this year, a group of senior citizens who are 75-years-old and older, will also join the competition.
Tosaka says he plans to join this group.
"From next year, I'm going to join a group of people who are over 75 and they are very competitive, so I really need to work harder. But more importantly, I'd like to tell all senior citizens that anyone can stay young and healthy if you exercise from time to time."
Japan, home of 40,000 centenarians, has the second largest elderly population who are aged 100 and up, behind the United States, which now has more than 96,000, though their population is more than double Japan's, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Japan boasts the longest life expectancy in the world, with experts citing healthy diet, high quality health care and a tradition of active pensioners as factors in the phenomenon.
Tosaka spends most of his day and week weight-lifting and toning his muscle at a small sports gym in Tokyo.
He started weight-lifting 50 years ago, but according to Tosaka, there was no such thing as a bodybuilder when he was young.
Asked if he has any other secrets to being young and healthy besides his workout routines, he replied: "Dressing up in style and going out several nights a week. Hearing people say things like 'you look great' or 'you look young' really motivates me to work out!"