International Women’s Day tribute to Ms Reiko Kitano

Reiko Kitano, Keiko Ochiai and Fumie Andoh (from left to right

Finally I found a Japanese Nenad Bach! The japanese parkinson table tennis championship was launched on 2008 at Kobe city. As far as we know, this is the world’s oldest table tennis tournament for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. It was born eleven years earlier than Nenad’s Parkinsons Wold Table Tennis Championships (PWTTC).

The question is who began the tournament?

Mis Reiko Kitano started “Ayumi no Kai”, which means “friends walking together” in 2005.

She used to be a good table tennis player. She recalled that she jumped with joy when she found the ping-pong table in the gymnasium of Kobe city welfare center. She took a license teaching physical exercise for disabled persons and introduced playing table tennis as a rehabilitation for the people with parkinson’s (PWP). For the first time in the history.

Playing table tennis, singing together in chorus, and walking were the main three programs for Ayumi no Kai. After Ayumi no Kai started with just a few PWP, Mis Kitano expanded her group not only in Hyogo, but also in Osaka and Wakayama prefectures. This is the prototype for JPTTC. She won back to back women‘s single championship in preliminary japanese tournament in 2006 at Tokyo, and 2007 at Nagoya.

She was eager to build a community for the PWP through playing table tennis. Unfortunately, she passed away by heart attack in the middle of the way to her dream. However, in the history of japanese parkinson table tennis, a lot of women carry on her dreams. A great example being Yuri Kato and Asako Katagiri who won the women’s doubles international tournament at the ITTF Parkinsons World Table Tennis Championships 2019. They played a very pivotal role in the history of the JPTTC. We can call it genealogy of Reiko Kitano.  

Contributed by: Hiromichi Kawai

Editor: Jacqueline Njeri

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