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1964 Olympic cauldron returns 'home' to Saitama Pref. after touring disaster-hit areas

From left, Olympic medalist Koji Murofushi, local high school student Takuma Urabe and junior high student Rinka Hayashi are seen lighting the Olympic cauldron used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, on Oct. 6, 2019. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

KAWAGUCHI, Saitama -- A ceremony to commemorate the return of the Olympic cauldron, used for the 1964 Tokyo Games, was held here on Oct. 6 in this city north of Japan's capital where the torch was crafted.

At the ceremony, 2004 Athens Olympic hammer throw gold medalist Koji Murofushi and local children cleaned the cauldron before Kawaguchi Municipal High School third-year student and track and field athlete Takuma Urabe and Rinka Hayashi, a third-year student at the city's Kamiaoki Junior High School, lit the torch in front of JR Kawaguchi Station.

The cauldron, which measures 2.1 meters both in height and diameter and weighs approximately 4 metric tons, was created by local metal worker Mannosuke Suzuki and his son Bungo, both now deceased. It was set up in the then National Stadium for the 1958 Asian Games and was also used for the Summer Olympics six years later. The torch was removed from the stadium as the venue went under construction to rebuild it for the 2020 Games and has been on tour traveling around 2011 disaster-hit Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.

Mannosuke passed away while the cauldron was still in the making, and Bungo carried on his father's legacy. Bungo's younger brother Akishige, 84, who joined the ceremony, said, "I put my hands together in prayer thinking that my dad and brother were in the cauldron. Its return to its hometown sparks special feelings."

The cauldron will be on display in Kawaguchi until around March next year before it is taken to the new National Stadium to be mounted in front of the venue's east gate.

(Japanese original by Atsushi Suzuki, Kawaguchi Local Bureau)

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