Last month marked 55 years since the Tohoku University Rowing Club represented Japan at the 1960 Olympics held in Italy. While the team broke the 6 minute wall for the 2000 metre race - a longtime Japanese goal - they missed out on qualifying for the final by a narrow margin.
This year also signifies 400 years since Sendai's renowned samurai lord Date Masamune, sent his personal retainer on Japan's first diplomatic mission to Europe. The journey lasted seven years, with the ultimate goal of reaching the Vatican to pay respects.
On July 30, as part of the celebrations to commemorate the two milestones, a friendly rematch between Japan and Italy's men's eight rowing teams took place on Lake Albano, in Castel Gandolfo.
In temperatures of over 30℃, alumni from Tohoku University's Rowing Club took up their oars to vindicate the loss from all those years ago.
"It's a wonderful feeling to re-connect with the event after 55 years, in the context of Japan's 400 year-old diplomatic relations," said Kenro Chiba, the former captain of the men's eight team.
With an average age of 67.7 years, team members wore replicas of the original uniform donned by the olympic contestants. A lively gathering was held after the race, and a letter from Tohoku University's president Satomi was presented to Sapienza University of Rome.
The two universities formed a university-level academic exchange in 1990, and Sapienza University currently has over 700 students studying Japanese language and culture.
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