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Japanese Hajduk Split fan travels 9,500 km to watch them play in the cup final 

Japanese Hajduk Split fan travels 9,500 km to watch them play in the cup final 

Akihisa Wada (Photo credit: Private album/archive)

SPLIT, 26 May 2022 – One of the most passionate supporters of Croatian football club Hajduk Split in the world – Japanese Buddhist monk Akihisa Wada – has travelled over 9,500 just to watch them play in tonight’s Croatian Cup Final.

Aki, as his friends call him, has arrived in Split to watch his beloved Hajduk Split play Rijeka in the final of the Croatian Cup tonight at Poljud stadium. 

Aki, who will celebrate his birthday in Split the day after the final, has travelled over 9,500 km from his home in Yokohama just to watch the match, but the crazy thing is this is not the first time he has done it. 

Back in the summer of 2017, Aki made a 20,000 km round trip to watch Hajduk Split play Everton in the UEFA Europa League playoff in Split. 

Japanese Hajduk Split fan travels 9,500 km to watch them play in the cup final 

Aki before Hajduk played Everton in 2017 (Photo credit Private album)

“I fell in love with Croatia and Hajduk Split in 2006 when I watched Croatia play Japan at the World Cup which was held in Japan. I watched the match and I was amazed – it all started then”, he told us in an earlier interview.

After learning more about Croatian football online, he discovered Hajduk and their passionate fans – Torcida. And that sold him.

“I watched fešta (parties) that Torcida made in Split and was amazed. It blew me away and then one Japanese player, Masahiko Inoha, signed for Hajduk so the Japanese media started to write more about the club,” he added.

Aki’s wall gives away who he supporters (Photo credit: Private album)

Aki turned an admiration then into an obsession and he began learning the Croatian language at a University in Tokyo and helping at the office of the Croatian Tourist Board in the Japanese capital.

His first taste of watching Hajduk Split live at Poljud Stadium back in 2011, when Hajduk played Rijeka in a league match, got him completely hooked.

“I saw that in Split they were very kind and noble people. That just strengthened my love for Split and Hajduk,” he said.

Japanese Hajduk Split fan travels 9,500 km to watch them play in the cup final 

His car in Japan (Photo: Private album/archive)

Since then he has repeatedly made the long journey to Croatia to watch Hajduk play, even travelling around the country to see them in action He was also a guest of the club when it celebrated its 104th birthday in 2015.

He has learned all of Torcida’s chants and Hajduk songs and knows the meanings of them all. He even has the lyrics of the Croatian national anthem on his wall in Yokohama.

Aki, who owns countless Hajduk scarfs and kits, is hoping his club wins tonight so his birthday celebrations tomorrow will be even better.

Aki singing Hajduk songs in Split today  – Video here.

 

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