Japan’s Yoshifumi Nakano last month marked his 13th appearance in the Tour de France—as a masseur.

Nakano, 43, is the first Japanese masseur to take part in the world’s most prestigious cycling race.

When he was a first-year high school student, a documentary on the Tour de France sparked his interest in cycling as a sport … Twenty-seven years after he watched the documentary, Nakano fits in perfectly with the racing world’s elite.

Oil massage is the most popular therapy in Europe. But Nakano’s Japanese-style massage, including “shiatsu” (finger-pressure therapy), acupuncture and traditional “anma” massage techniques, helped him win over his teammates.

The Asahi Shimbun, Asia and Japan, Aug. 4, 2013