Japan's fairytale run to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals was a highlight of last year's tournament but with the afterglow all..
Thousands laud Brave Blossoms in central Tokyo parade
SHOWS: TOKYO, JAPAN (DECEMBER 11, 2019) (FOREIGN POOL - ACCESS ALL) 1.
JAPAN PLAYERS, INCLUDING CAPTAIN, MICHAEL LEITCH (FRONT), WAVING AT CROWD 2.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPAN RUGBY UNION CAPTAIN, MICHAEL LEITCH, SAYING: "Thanks to everyone's efforts, we've managed to make a big impact on Japan, and I'm very happy about this." 3.
VARIOUS OF PLAYERS WAVING AT CROWD 4.
CROWD MEMBERS USING THEIR SMARTPHONES TO TAKE PICTURES 5.
VARIOUS OF SCRUMHALF, FUMIAKI TANAKA, IN TEARS DURING PARADE 6.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPAN RUGBY UNION SCRUMHALF, FUMIAKI TANAKA, SAYING: "In 2011, I was aggrieved that we had brought down the reputation of rugby in Japan.
But I'm so happy that so many people have gathered here today, really." 7.
VARIOUS OF PLAYERS POSING FOR A TEAM PHOTO STORY: Thousands of fans lined the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday (December 11) to cheer parading members of the Japan rugby union team who made history at their home World Cup earlier this year, reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.
As he did during the tournament, captain Michael Leitch led from the front as the players, dressed in black suit and ties, walked slowly along the parade route.
Event organisers said that approximately 50,000 fans lined the route, taking photographs and screaming the names of their favourite players.
The emotion of the occasion was all too much for scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka who, as a veteran of the 2011 World Cup when Japan finished without a win, broke down in tears as he reflected on how far his country has come.
During the Sept.
20 - Nov.
2 tournament, Japan beat tier-one nations Ireland and Scotland en route to topping Pool A and reaching the knockout stages for the first time, before being knocked out in the quarter-finals by eventual winners South Africa.