Blow darts just a breeze for old Japanese folk

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In the concrete jungle of Tokyo, some 600 retirees have gathered to fight for supremacy – with blow darts. The ancient Borneo rain forest tradition of blow darting is picking up new fans thousands of kilometres away in Japan, where it is a rapidly growing sport among the nation’s elderly. In just five years, nationwide membership in a blow dart club has tripled, on target to hit 30,000 members this year. The average age of enthusiasts is 70. “Older people are really getting into it because it’s easy for anyone to do – whether your legs are playing up, you’re confined to a wheelchair or missing an arm,” said Nobuhiko Yamada, a blow darting instructor. Though popular culture has placed blow darting – or “fukiya,” as it’s known in Japanese – among the arsenal of ninjas and night time assassinations, actual historical records of it are few. The popularity of the sport is likely to grow still further, given Japan’s rapidly greying population. By 2060, the number of people aged 65 or older is expected to hit 35 million. The sport is especially popular among Japanese men, who tend to be a bit lost after devoting their lives to their jobs.