A way to enjoy Olympics: collecting stamps

Jotaro Ueji, a former vice president of Mizuno Corp., has collected commemorative postage stamps for all 16 summer and winter Olympics since the 1988 Games in Seoul, amassing a vast collection of ingeniously designed stamps. (The Japan News/ANN)
Jotaro Ueji, a former vice president of Mizuno Corp., has collected commemorative postage stamps for all 16 summer and winter Olympics since the 1988 Games in Seoul, amassing a vast collection of ingeniously designed stamps. (The Japan News/ANN)

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) — Jotaro Ueji, a former vice president of Mizuno Corp., has collected commemorative postage stamps for all 16 summer and winter Olympics since the 1988 Games in Seoul, amassing a vast collection of ingeniously designed stamps.

“I want people to know this way of enjoying the Olympics exists,” said the 72-year-old, who has been involved in some capacity with each of the Olympics he has collected stamps for.

Ueji currently serves as a counselor to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is known as “Mr. Olympic” among people connected to the committee.

Stamps for the 1992 Albertville Winter Games depicted skiers and other athletes through simple designs, while the Sydney Harbor Bridge was featured on stamps for the 2000 Sydney Summer Games.

In addition to stamps that he bought in the host countries, or participating countries or regions, where they were issued, Ueji’s collection also includes stamps he obtained during his youth for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

He has so many now, he “can’t count them,” Ueji said.

Born in Hyogo Prefecture, Ueji became interested in collecting stamps from a young age. He has visited Olympic venues since the 1988 Seoul Games, buying sheets of stamps while representing Mizuno in such capacities as a player support officer and an organizing committee sponsor. He sometimes sent postcards bearing the stamps to friends.

“I wanted to convey the atmosphere [of the Olympic venues],” Ueji said. He has kept the stamp sheets he bought for preservation, rather than use, in good condition through such means as regularly exposing them to air.

Ueji was deeply involved in Tokyo’s bid to host the Games in 2020. He retired after serving as vice president and adviser at Mizuno, and since 2014 has actively participated in the organizing committee as a counselor.

“There are many ways to enjoy the Olympics other than participating as a player, watching in a stadium or supporting them from behind the scenes,” Ueji said.

He looks forward to collecting commemorative stamps for the second Tokyo Olympics.