Masaaki SUWA : Paraplegic Canoeist / Koto Ward Office
“Make the opportunities given to people to come in contact with Nature, their communities and fellow human beings.”
Early in the morning on Saturdays and Sundays, a number of canoes are seen coming and going at the Nakagawa river Canoe training area. This is the training site of the Koto Ward Para-Canoe Team. The vivacious reverberating shouts being directed at his fellow canoe rowers is that of Mr. Masaaki Suwa.
When he was a child, Mr. Suswa wanted to become a dinosaur researcher. Throughout his childhood, with his heart continuously throbbing to learn about everything in creation, he was totally engrossed in turning the pages of the encyclopedia for knowledge. His curiosity and thirst for knowledge have remained unchanged to this day. His weekends are spent, visiting the museums and geo-parks of various regions.
Since his graduation from Tokyo University of Technology, he has been working at the Koto Ward Office. Belonging to the Department of Civil Engineering, he is a specialist in landscaping in Koto Ward, the vegetation and the living creatures of the city.
Even though it was as recent as 2014 when he took up para-canoeing, his inborn competitive spirit and his intensive training, mostly on weekends, enabled him to grow rapidly. He placed 7th in the VA Category at the 2016 World Championships. Even though he failed to be selected for the overseas team dispatched in 2017, he has continued to be optimistic. "I see this as being given the opportunity to further improve myself." He has been dedicating himself to improving the right-left balance of operation and muscular strength.
Mr. Suwa is expected to play an active part in the Tokyo Paralympic Games. He hopes to be an inspiration to other persons with disabilities. "It would be wonderful if places are created for all people, including those with disabilities, to enjoy canoeing and if opportunities are given to many people to come into contact with Nature, their communities and their fellow human beings."
In addition to working for the Ward and para-canoeing, he has been the President of the NPO Corporation TUDC (Tokyo Universal Design Communicators), and preparing the training programs that provide the participants the experience to acquire an understanding of universal design. He has also been creating the maps for walking tours in the city, as well as conducting countless trials to implement the tours. He wants to bring about a world in which people no longer consider disabilities as something negative, but as special features.
Anticipating the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, his eyes are even more focused on the future.
ADDRESS: 9-10 Ojima, Koto, Tokyo, Japan [Nakagawa river Canoe training area]
*The dates for practice are irregular. Please be careful not to disturb other pedestrians when you are observing the practice.