Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui were chosen among the 10 celebrities to decorate Japan’s traditional “hagoita” battledores.

Hagoita is an ornately decorated paddle used in a badminton-like game called “Hanetsuki” or shuttlecock — which is traditionally played by girls in Japan on New Year’s.

Beautifully decorated battledores are not used for playing the game; they save those for decorations and use plainer ones for competition.

In 1986, Kyugetsu, one of the Tokyo’s oldest doll makers in Asakusabashi began decorating “hagoita” with people who had made news during the past year. The decorators select 10 individuals; two from politics, five from sports, two from entertainment and one from overseas. They are decorated in seven “hagoitas.”

This year, Schwarzenegger was selected and titled “American Dream;” Matsui was referred to as “Triumphal Return from the Country of Goddess of Liberty.” Matsui played in all the Yankees games and helped the team win the American League championship. Pictured with Matsui is Japanese golfer Shigeki Maruyama who won the Chrysler Classic in October.

Others selected include:

Swimmer Kosuke Kitajima: Barcelona breaststroke winner in July.Sen-ichi Hoshino: Hanshin Tigers coach who lead the team to the Central League pennant.Sadaharu Oh: Daiei Hawks coach for the Pacific League pennantChosen from the political field are:

Politicians Kan Naoto and Ichiro Ozawa: leaders of the Democratic Party. The new party made big gains in the House of Representatives election in November.Entertainer Shin-nojo Ichikawa, a Kabuki actor, was chosen in the entertainment field.The annual “Hagoita Ichi (market)” will be held at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa in Tokyo Dec. 17-19. The wooden paddles sold are mostly decorated with Kabuki actors and prices range from $80 to $320. About 50 hagoita shops will be set up inside the compound of Sensoji temple. Every year, the fair attracts a half-million people. Take Ginza Line to Asakusa Station.

If you would like to buy Japanese dolls and hagoita, there are many wholesalers and retailers at Asakusabashi in Tokyo — JR Sobu Line to Asakusabashi Station (East Exit).

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