Imagine leaving everything you know to peruse your dreams in a new country. It’s a growing trend among Japanese women, who travel thousands of miles for chance at a coveted spot on a professional cheerleading team.
Far from the sidelines of a football field and very far from her home in Tokyo, Ayaka Fujiwara is steadfast in her cheerleading training.
Fujiwara left her family in Japan to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional cheerleader or sports dancer in the United States.
“It’s very exciting. I cannot experience this anywhere else in any other country,” said Fujiwara.
Fujiwara said becoming a cheerleader in America truly elevates Japanese women to celebrity status.
“It’s really extreme. Everyone dreams about it. Everybody wants to do it,” said Fujiwara.
There are a handful of Japanese women who have made United States squads, including Norkia Hosaka.
Since cheering for the Washington Redskins and San Jose Saber Cats, Hosaka has been featured on several major Japanese television networks. She is highly recognized in Japan.
Fujiwara said that would be a dream for her.
Aubrey Aquino with Going Pro Entertainment trains Fujiwara and said she is not surprised to see the number of Japanese women leaving it all to cheer here.
“They do go back and get billboards and all kinds of notoriety. There are so many women who want to do it. It is very shocking,” said Aquino.
Recently, Fujiwara did audition for a spot on the Heat dance team.
Although she did not make it this time, she’s confident there’s a team out there with a spot for her.
“I am just keep going. I will do my best, and big smile," said Fujiwara.