Manami Ito – Japanese Superwoman!

Manami Ito – Japanese Superwoman!

The power of determination! Manami Ito is a Japanese nurse, violinist & former Paralympian swimmer who lost her arm in a car accident. She plays the violin beautifully with a specially designed prosthetic arm & stole the show at the Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony.

She is the first qualified nurse in Japan to have a prosthetic arm and has defied the doubters by continuing her work and playing music.

The 39 year old doesn’t let her disability define her: “There were always people who told me: ‘No, you can’t do it. It’s impossible,'”

Every time I faced that kind of wall, I thought to myself: ‘They are saying that because no one has done it before. So I will do it’.”

She struggled in the dark days after her accident at age 20 and contemplated not leaving the house: “I thought I would confine myself at home for the rest of my life,” she admits.

“I didn’t want my friends or neighbours to see my body, I didn’t want them to know what happened to me.”

Ito’s family had encouraged her to play the violin as a child and with the basics in place, she decided to give the instrument a try after her accident.

She originally taped the violin bow to her foot but eventually received a special prosthetic arm that enabled her to create magic with her violin.

Buoyed with confidence, she reignited her other childhood passion – swimming, and went on to swim at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 and London 2012, reaching the finals three times.

It was a harrowing time for her to reveal the scars to the world but it became cathartic:

“I never wanted anybody to look at my scars, the scars were the most vulnerable part of my body,” she said.

“But I began to think about exposing them to the world because otherwise, I would never be strong.”

“I want to show to the world that just because no one else has done it, it doesn’t mean I can’t do it,”

“What is normal can be different for each person and family.”

A salute to Manami for showing us a key life lesson – to do what you can with what you have.


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Patrick Skene

Patrick Skene is a founder and Chief Creative Officer of Cultural Pulse. Patrick works with over 100 communities and creates compelling content for clients to engage with them. He is a storyteller, marketer, writer and author of ‘The Big O, The Life & Times of Olsen Filipaina‘ which has gone into reprint. His stories on the intersection of sport, history and culture have been published by The Guardian Australia, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and Inside Sport. He is currently the proud coach of the Rockdale Raiders Under 8B1’s football team.