Playing alongside teammates four decades younger than himself, 62-year-old former Japan rugby international Toshiro Yoshino exemplifies the will and passion to defy aging.

Part of the Japan squad for the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 in New Zealand and Australia, Yoshino ran out to the competitive pitch for the first time in years last October for Tokyo-based Waseda Club in the sixth-tier Top East League Group C.

Toshiro Yoshino in action for Waseda Club during a competitive match in Tokyo on Nov. 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Toshiro Yoshino)(Kyodo)

"I can give my all because I love it like mad. I want to carry on as long as my body moves," said Yoshino, who played for Suntory, now Tokyo Sungoliath, until he was 38.

His time at the club was up when the company transferred him to Osaka in 1999, but Yoshino asked reporters not to use the word retirement. After a spell at a club competing locally in the Kansai region of western Japan, he joined Waseda Club upon his return to Tokyo.

While his minutes on the pitch diminished as he entered his 40s and 50s, the idea of hanging up his boots never came across.

"It's fun just being with your mates. I've not for once thought about quitting," said Yoshino, who made his comeback appearance with the team's number of players on the wane.

Coming on late as a replacement wing, the 176-centimeter, 68-kilogram Yoshino made tackles fearlessly, despite the significant age gap between himself and other players. During a match the following month, he showed he still has the footwork.

Working out in the gym for an hour six days a week on top of the weekly team training, Yoshino says keeping himself fit is his norm, like "brushing teeth."

The veteran took inspiration from seeing Japanese football icon Kazuyoshi Miura making headlines for moving to Oliveirense in the Portuguese second tier as a 56-year-old in early February, while acknowledging the difference between being professional and amateur.

"I think Kazu-san likes the sport, like myself," said Yoshino, seeing the positive side in carrying on as an amateur.

"Professionals have contracts, while I can (continue) as long as I don't give up," he said.

Yoshino, whose outstanding physique was recently splashed across an entire magazine page, still has a burning desire to continue improving as a rugby player.

"I want to be a little bit better at it tomorrow. Rugby's playing style is changing every day," he said.

Former Japan rugby player Toshiro Yoshino poses in Tokyo on Feb. 4, 2023. (Kyodo)