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The Buddhist Priest Aiming for Kayak Olympic Gold | Day Jobs

The Buddhist Priest Aiming for Kayak Olympic Gold | Day Jobs

PRIEST, JAPAN) When I’m on the water,
in my canoe, I feel secure. I feel I can be truly myself. My name is Kazuki Yazawa. My name as a monk
is Kyoei Yazawa. I’ve competed in canoe slalom
three times at the Olympics, Beijing, London and Rio. I have been practising
canoeing since I was a child. The fun part is paddling
in strong currents – it feels like riding
nature’s rollercoaster. (NAGANO, JAPAN) I started after watching my father canoeing on the river. My father told me, “There is a big event which is
called the Olympics “and only selected athletes
from around the world “can take part.” Reaching the Olympics
became my goal. I worked hard
to qualify for Beijing. There was a gentleman, who had been the chairman
of Nagano Canoe Association, who did a lot to help me. He thought about how he could
provide an environment… ..for me to focus on my
Olympic training for London, such as finding sponsors. Then, I thought
I want to be like him, someone who can help people. He was a monk
at the Zenkoji monastery. So, I thought, I also want
to be a monk there too. In the summer,
the earliest we get up is 4.30 for a service
that starts at 5.30. We prepare so we’ll be ready
for the morning prayers. We have breakfast
just after 8.00. Then until 15:00, if anybody wishes
to hold a service, I will recite prayers for them. Canoe slalom is
a sport which involves going through gates
in very strong currents. How the boat moves
in relation to my movement is very important. The current changes
the boat’s movement. So, I always have to be
planning ahead. I sense those things
through my body or see them with my eyes. There is no canoe slalom
facility in Nagano. So I train on a flat surface
like a lake. When a member of the public
comes to the monastery, we write them a blessing. Balance is an important
part of calligraphy. I’m focusing on
how to write the characters so they are
more evenly balanced. It is the same as canoeing, in that if you do it
over and over, it gradually becomes
a part of you. So it’s all down to
the effort you put into it. I do some administrative work for the temple until 15.00. After that I have
time for myself. It’s then that
I practise canoeing, go to the gym or go for a run. I then eat dinner,
often with friends… ..and then go to bed
around 23.00. My child lives in Tokyo and we
asked them to send us tickets to see Mr Yazawa
when they are on sale. I will do my best, so please
come and support me. We are looking forward to it. I hope we will be
fit enough to be there. – You’re in the Tokyo Olympics?
– You’ve got to want it! – Shall I go?
– Sure, go ahead. Well, if he doesn’t qualify,
then you’ll go. What’s the difference between
slalom and the other one? – Slalom and sprint?
– Yes. The location and boat
are both different. – Different location?
– Yes. – The one on the Sai-River?
– Sprint. – The one not on the Sai-River?
– Slalom. I see. – You’ve lost me there.
– Me too. The event where you
only go straight, is sprint. – When you go like this?
– Slalom. It’s a very expensive
sport for me. One canoe can cost between 350,000 and 400,000
Japanese Yen. If you include
the helmet and paddle, it can cost
nearly 500,000 Yen. Plus, you have to buy
the wetsuit. I don’t have a sponsor
to give me a free canoe, a paddle or a suit. Tomorrow will be my final day
at the Daikanjin temple. I have a strong desire to win
an Olympic medal in Tokyo. When I thought about
how I can make this possible, I realised
that life at Daikanjin would make this very difficult. I’m moving to Aomori, so I’m loading my belongings
in my van. I’ve have found life here
really fulfilling. Obviously I’m going to miss it. I’m crying, I’m crying. Don’t go. – I don’t want you to go.
– Stop it. Seriously, don’t go. I’ll come back. I have to think about what I’m going to do
when I stop being an athlete. The village of Nishimeye
in the Aomori Prefecture have offered me a job with the council. This will allow me
to focus on my sport and give me peace of mind that I can make a living
when I finish competing.


I've never heard of the sport because the Olympics has a wide array of events but what fascinates me most are the athletes and where they come from and the story they have from humble beginnings to Olympic Gold dream. Best of luck to Kazuki! Honestly, its a unique adventure.

Good luck!! The back stories only make the Olympics more exciting for me. You can be an average Joe one day, champion of the world, standing on the platform, hearing your Anthem the next. Now that's human drama I can watch

How does a Buddhist priest not have sponsors? The amount of free publicity in Japan nvm Asia including goodwill would be worth it.

What a wonderful video. Touching story, amazing landscapes. And her photo in Brazil almost in the end. I wish all the best to Kazuki Yazawa.

It's so nice to see how Olympic athletes come from such different backgrounds and professions.
I admire you for your dedication despite the financial difficulties!

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