Photo: Courtesy Tokiko Yoshihara-Lepik
From Japan to the Ice Capades
My name is Tokiko and I turned 79 years old last Halloween. My life story starts in the year 1940 in Japan, near the start of the Second World War. My father, who was an educator, taught his family to “make a positive experience at this unbelievably difficult time.”
Besides teaching school, my father managed to farm and grow vegetables and fruits. He also raised chickens and goats.
When I was eight years old, my father took me to the ice skating arena in Osaka, Japan, along with his students, in order to teach us all to skate. By the time I was 10, I had become a national junior athletic champion. I continued skating competitively until finishing my schooling at age 21. In school, I studied psychology, philosophy, Japanese literature and life coaching skills. I have also studied Zazen meditation and yoga.
As I was finishing my schooling, I was offered a three-year contract to skate with the American ice show, the Ice Capades, from 1962 to 1965. With my parents’ understanding and permission, I joined the show, which took me to 26 cities in the United States, two cities in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), as well as travelling to Australia. It was a great experience in learning about different cultures and people. It became a bit easier after I started to understand English better.
When the show performed in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens, I promised myself I’d return one day, as I loved the city.
Later, I had a chance to meet my future husband in Toronto and we carried on a long distance relationship for two years. We eventually married in Japan in 1965, then moved to Ontario to settle down and raise our family. We lived a happy and meaningful life together for 42 years.
Over the years, my passion has been to help people stay active and keep their mind and bodies connected. I taught figure skating for 31 years and also coached yoga.
These days, I enjoy coaching yoga at the seniors’ centre and am involved with “live well classes,” both of which are great as preventive medicine. I hope to show people of all ages that you are never too old to be involved in activities that you enjoy!
This random act of small town kindness will warm your heart!