Nakatsue & Cameroon

Oita Nakatsue Cameroon2

For a rural community barely known of in the rest of Oita, Nakatsue drew enormous national attention during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It hosted the Republic of Cameroon’s national football team, which used this quiet, rural village deep in the mountains of Oita on the border with Kumamoto Prefecture, as its base camp. The Cameroonian team arrived late in the early hours of the morning and the scenes shown on TV of the locals, young and old who had waited up all night, waving the Cameroon national flag warmly and enthusiastically welcoming their guests became an instant and popular phenomenon: an event that is still reminisced about to this day by the Japanese who remember their World Cup.

The 1,300 villagers of Nakatsue, many for whom had never seen a football match before, adopted the African team as their own. The then village mayor, Yasumu Sakamoto, always sporting the Cameroonian national colours, was subsequently a regular guest on national news programs and became a household name. Today, the connection with Cameroon is celebrated through a display and specially created, delicious curry dish at the Michi-no-eki at the Taio-Kinzan gold mine.

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