Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Armless, legless cheerleader celebrates coming-of-age

A 20-year-old Japanese woman with no limbs celebrated her coming-of-age ceremony with friends over the weekend. Ami Sano, 20, was born without limbs. She has only three toes on a partly-formed left foot, which she uses to get by in her everyday life. Sano belongs to the cheerleading club at Toyokawa High School in Aichi Prefecture.

In the autumn of 2009, Sano published a memoir titled "Teashi-no-nai Cheerleader" (cheerleader without limbs) and released a poetry book titled "Akiramenaide" (don't give up) in autumn last year. While making a living as an office clerk, Sano also works as an assistant at a local FM radio station and speaks at lectures.

She is also taking voice training lessons twice a week as she hopes to use her voice in a job as a professional narrator or MC in the future. On Jan. 9, Sano participated in a coming-of-age ceremony at a local sports centre, wearing a traditional kimono and taking commemorative photographs with her classmates from junior high school.

"I want to climb the staircase of adulthood, step by step," a smiling Sano said. Her mother, Hatsumi, said, "We had some difficult times, but I believe those experiences helped my daughter become a person with a kind heart. Twenty years sounds long, but it went by in a flash."

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