At the end of February, Yuzuru Hanyu performed his solo show “The Gift” at the Tokyo Dome with a worldwide broadcast. And the other day he presented his new project, a three-day tour called “Notte stellata”.
The show took place at the Miyagi Sekisui Heim Super Arena, with a seating capacity of up to 7,000 people. All the tickets were sold out a few days in advance.
The name of the tour means “Starry Night” in Italian. The show was dedicated to the 12th anniversary of the “Great Earthquake” that occurred in Japan on March 11, 2011.
For those who don’t know, a reminder that Yuzuru Hanyu was training at his home rink in Sendai with others at the time of the earthquake when the ice around them began to crumble and collapse, with heavy ceiling lights falling from above.
The coaches led a group of young skaters crawling off the ice outside without even giving them time to remove their skates. The training rink and Yuzuru Hanyu’s home were damaged and destroyed, and for three days he lived with his family in the gymnasium of the local school, turned into an emergency shelter for displaced people. His family later moved from there to temporary housing.
At that point, Yuzuru Hanyu wanted to quit figure skating and join the rescue teams. But luckily, he met Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa, who saw great talent and potential in the young man. She told him upon meeting him that with his abilities he could use the best ways to help victims by raising money for them. The skater listened and over the next 6 months performed at 60 ice shows across Japan, raising money and using the show facilities to train before competitions because he had no other place to do it.
“On the day of the earthquake, the stars were beautiful. There was pitch blackness and starry skies on March 11. I felt the light of hope,” the skater recalled. The Starry Night Tour serves as a tribute to the Tohoku region of Japan, which was most affected by the devastating natural disaster.
This year, Yuzuru Hanyu made his first appearance before an audience on this date, March 11. His words, published in an NTV article:
“One year after the earthquake and every year on March 11, I secretly came to skate to pray for the repose of souls.”
Many commentators and figure skating fans note that Yuzuru Hanyu lost a lot of weight in preparation for this show.
The show began with the iconic and beloved by many Olympic demonstration number “Swan”. The costume looked exactly like the one in Pyeongchang 2018. Incredible plasticity, musicality, ballet hands resembling fluttering swan wings, mesmerizing from the first movements.
On the ice Yuzuru Hanyu was soaring over the ice like a swan in human form. The speedy spins in original positions, dizzying twizzles, jewelry work with the skate, each movement was performed in tune with the music, each note was masterfully played. Everyone in the audience held their breath during his performance.
If at the last show “The Gift” Yuzuru Hanyu performed solo, here he invited other famous people from the world of figure skating. For example, American Jason Brown, choreographer and former figure skater She-Lynn Burn, Rika Hongo, Keiji Tanaka, Mura Takahito, Satoko Miahara and Violetta Afanasieva were among the active skaters invited.
And in the final number of the first division, Yuzuru Hanyu appeared with three-time Olympic gymnastics champion Kohei Uchimura.
While Yuzuru Hanyu was skating on ice, Uchimura was doing floor exercises on a special gymnastics mat. Watching two great men on the same stage is an unbelievable experience.
The most striking moment was when Yuzuru Hanyu did his signature spinning movement and Kouhei was spinning on the apparatus at the same time. The audience also saw a magnificent wheel on the ice performed by Yuzuru Hanyu.
In the second part, Yuzuru Hanyu performed his familiar Haru yo, Koi (“Spring, Come!”) routine, adding a projection of sakura petals on the ice, a symbol of Asian spring and the five main wishes of good luck, prosperity, longevity, joy and peace.
The figure skater has been performing this number periodically since 2020, but each performance is special and heartfelt in its own way. A very gentle number, in which you feel the breath of spring, see how nature wakes up, hear the streams flowing, and the soul blooms with the cherry blossoms.
“Swan” and “Haru yo, Koi” are some of the most iconic performances of Yuzuru Hanyu’s career. Many fans were happy to see them again on the ice. The collection of masterpiece rolls has noticeably expanded in recent days. If you watch carefully, you can notice that the same number skater skates a little differently every time. Not with memorized movements, but with his soul.
The show was intense and thought-out to the smallest detail. In addition to solo numbers, there were several general appearances on the ice. The choreographer was David Wilson, whom Yuzuru Hanyu had also worked closely with during his career. Many fans remembered the skaters’ common number to the hit of BTS – Dynamite.
But even more impressed Yuzuru Hanyu, who started to dance during the final act, when the other dancers did a lap of honor and thanked the audience. The bombshell dance stirred up the audience, so much so that even the restrained Japanese could not sit still and reacted with stormy applause and cheers.
This unexpected performance once again showed us how different Yuzuru Hanyu can be on ice. Only he can change from a nice, gentle swan to a bold, mischievous boy with a fiery dance at the snap of a finger.
Despite the fact that the figure skater retired from the big sport, he continues to maintain excellent form. He’s still as thin, sonorous, and light as ever, so you could just show up at the start tomorrow and skate on the same level as other athletes. Yuzuru Hanyu has amazing spinning and the easiest triple axel that he can do with practically no training and can even do with his eyes closed. Although, perhaps, it is at the show where he can reveal all his talents to the fullest extent, where there is absolute freedom of action, instead of a limiting set of rules and a set of mandatory elements.
After the show, Yuzuru Hanyu took to the ice to give a poignant closing speech. The figure skater said that in the past, this very spot where the show was held was a morgue. So Yuzuru Hanyu often touched the ice here and conveyed his feelings. He thought a lot about how appropriate and right it was for him to place the ice here:
“However, by holding the Notte Stellata here today also for people who were not affected by the earthquake, and those people who felt pain after the earthquake, and also for those who, after seeing the news of the earthquake, felt pain, I would like, even if a little, but that at a time like this they would all also be able to feel hope and warmth. And thinking about it, I live. And the fact that I was able to speak before you all in this arena today, I wish I could be sure that it carried at least a little meaning for you. For taking the time to do this, thank you very much!”
Yuzuru Hanyu also reminded the audience that we should treasure every minute of our lives. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, so we have to cherish what we have. To be happy and not lose faith. Especially now when there is turmoil and other scary things going on in the world.
“We don’t really know what’s going to happen. Right now… The situation in our world is not peaceful at all. There are a lot of bullets flying. But with all that said, I hope that, if only for a little while, the days come to you where you can feel peace and warmth. These March 11 stars, called Notte Stellata, always wish you happiness, peace and warmth. Thank you so much for today.
Please take care of yourselves until the very, very end. The life you have now will not necessarily be tomorrow. The happiness that you have now will not necessarily be tomorrow. Of this I have found certainty. So responsibly live the life you have now, the time you have now – live them happily, please. Thank you very much! Take care, please!”
After the final show, Yuzuru Hanyu will have a “quiet and ordinary day. But the skater promised to continue training hard and working hard so that viewers will want to watch Yuzuru Hanyu skate again. He admitted that he feels happy when he can share a piece of himself with others, give hope, warmth or evoke other emotions through his skating.
“Even if I have to sacrifice my happiness, I will do everything in my power to keep moving forward, carrying everything like Hanyu Yuzuru, so you can watch me skate again. So please keep cheering for me.
I feel happy enough if I can give you hope, sadness, affection, etc. when you watch me skate and feel something through my skating.
So from here on out, I will continue to make my decisions for my riding.
Please have faith in me.”