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By Sheri Cioroslan | May 26, 2014, 5 p.m. (ET)

Hikosuke Tamasu

How the Ravages of War Inspired the Beloved Hikosuke Tamasu

Yesterday the focus was on how the ITTF encouraged the Japanese Table Tennis Association to bid for the 2014 World Team Championships as a means of boosting the mood of the country after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

Today we will begin to honor some of the all-time greatest Japanese contributors to our sport and learn about how the ravages of war inspired the much beloved Hikosuke Tamasu.

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima as a means of expediting the conclusion of World War II.  As recorded in the book Songs of Friendship, Hikosuke Tamasu, who was then a Japanese soldier, was just 2 kilometers away with his army unit.  Dazed but not injured, they were dispatched to assist the victims.   They witnessed the terrible devastation firsthand.

Tamasu recalled, “It was during this work that I felt a spirit of God intended me to do something on peace in Japan and overseas.  I was puzzled, but the feeling persisted.”

As Japan’s #2 player before the war, Tamasu founded a family business manufacturing table tennis equipment in 1946.  He added, “I felt this was to be the field in which I was destined to assist with world peace.  After three years I adopted the company name, Butterfly, because the butterfly is an image of peace throughout the world.  You associate the butterfly with beautiful things, flowers, trees and friendship.”

During his lifetime, Mr. Tamasu traveled the world promoting his brand.  He learned to sing folk songs and anthems in the hosting country’s language wherever he went.  Personally identifying with our sport, he said, “Table tennis is my life, and my job is to promote it ahead of other sporting codes, and use table tennis to create peace and friendship throughout the world.”

Nearly 60 years later, the brand retains similar imagery: “Players are flowers in [the] table tennis world and they are the very enchantment of table tennis; we would like to be butterflies flying around the flowers providing them the essential needs in the table tennis world.”

Tomorrow: The Special Invitation to Tour Butterfly Japan