Journal-ONE | Japan competitive judo -Komatsu Limited womens' Judo team

Click here to read Japanese article.

What supports Judo as a sport in Japan?

“the Summer Olympic Games”, it is a sports event once in four years drawing worldwide attention. In 2024, the “Olympic year” has come which Japanese people follow the number of medals players would get.

“The competitive judo” accomplished winning 12 medals including 9 gold medals in “Tokyo Olympic” (hereinafter “Tokyo 2020”), and bringing cheer and smiles. A medal rush with Judo is expected in “Paris Olympic” this summer as well.

Journal-ONE | Miku Takaichi  won the women's 63 kg gold medal at the December 2022 Tokyo Grand Slam.

Miku Takaichi won the women’s 63 kg class gold medal at the December 2022 Tokyo Grand Slam.-Photo by Journal-ONE

Looking at both men and women Judo players by 14 classes qualified as representatives for the Paris Olympic, most of them are players belonging to business teams. Here is a question coming up. What kind of environment surrounding these business teams that support Japanese Judo sports maintaining the world’s top-level is to practice?

To clear up this question, the Journal-ONE editorial department could interview and come into a practice of “Komatsu Women’s Judo Team” on 2/29 which was a leap day. We could find a wonderful relationship with a solid bond between players there and employees on Komatsu who support the team.

Komatsu Sousi dojo which does not look like Dojo but an architecture.

Going up a hill for five minutes from a certain station in Tokyo, a beautiful building with a harmony of wood-pattern and stones like a museum came into view. We thought the place we were heading to was Judo hall, but…
Once we approached its entrance, we could find that the door plate said “Komatsu Women Judo Club Sousi dojo”. Hearing it is a four-story hall, we were overwhelmed by its stylish exterior, which was completely different from what we had expected. It did not look like a four story constructure but was a really tall building. Its spacious entrance, seen from a glass gate, had been built like a museum. Shiny championship cups and other decorations on display shelves on the entrance walls told us the achievements of this historic and good business team, which had been founded in 1991.

Journal-ONE | Sousi dojo Buildings owned by Komatsu Limited

Sousi dojo Buildings owned by Komatsu Limited-Photo by Journal-ONE

Besides entrance doors, we found Komatsu’s symbolic “Yellow heavy construction equipment’s toy cars” that everyone knows, such as a cane truck and a dump truck. These may remind boys of the time you were playing with.

As we went to the elevator at the back of the entrance, we saw that the other side of the display shelves I mentioned earlier was also made of glass.

Journak-ONE | Many trophies displayed in the entrance hall of Sousi dojo

Many trophies displayed in the entrance hall-Photo bu Jourmal-ONE

Inside it was a large meeting room and care room. The care room was so magnificent that it looked like a large hospital, and we could tell at a glance that it had created a perfect environment for the powerful Komatsu Women’s Judo Club athletes to practice with no concerns.

More surprising Judo Hall floor

Although Komatsu Soushi Dojo was completed in May 2019, it is clean and beautiful inside and looks like it was newly built. The spacious dojo is a 256 tatami mats room! The white walls surrounding three match fields are cushioned to soften the players’ collisions if you look closely. The kamidana is placed so high that it cannot be seen unless you raise your eyes considerably above it, but the height of the ceiling, which is even higher than the kamidana, is 6 meters high! There is also a training room with a fully equipped training machine in the room right next door. We are amazed at the wonderful environment we have seen so far.

Journal-ONE | The training room of Sousi dojo has good facilities.

The training room of Sousi dojo has good facilities-Photo by Journal-ONE

Atsuko Nakamura who is 6th dan and an adviser to coach players said, “After completion of the building, covid pandemic had started, but we started to welcome foreign teams from last year. We are planning to practice with France and Chinese players here next week. Here is N. DORJPUREV who came from Mongolia individually to join practice today.”

While we were amazed by the fact of this wonderful dojo opening for players from other countries, Nakamura said “In accord with the teaching of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, “Jita-Kyouei”, we help each other to improve ourselves and each other. On the contrary, when we travel to Europe, they allow us to practice in their dojo!”

Journal-ONE | The Advisor of Komatsu Judo Team  Atsuko Nakamura has 6th dan

The Advisor of Komatsu Judo Team Atsuko Nakamura has 6th dan-Photo by Journal-ONE

The teaching of “Seiryoku-Zenyo” and “Jita-Kyouei” taught by Mr. Haruki Uemura, president of Kodokan, which is the holy place of Judo, is practiced not only by Japanese business teams but also by club teams in many countries around the world.

Nakamura went on to say, “Our Soushi Dojo is a great facility that is comparable to club team facilities in other countries. Club team activities are very popular overseas, and their facilities are really great as well. “Paris Saint-Germain” in France is known for their soccer team, but they actually have a judo team as well. Teddy Riner, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 100 kg weight class, is a member of the team.We really appreciate the company’s cooperation in providing us with facilities that can compete with such a big club.”

Journal-ONE | Judo | Komatsu womens' Judo Club, intensive practice in a short period of time.

Komatsu womens’ Judo Club, intensive practice in a short period of time-Photo by Journal-ONE

We, that is Journal-ONE editorial staff, realized how popular Judo is in Europe, and thought it would be nicer if Judo matches of Japanese business teams with great players were much more exciting.

Heat from practice is a replacement for heater

On the day, Mina Komiyama and Akiho Yonekawa, who would join the company this spring, also joined a practice, and the team members warmed up their bodies according to music. After stretching in a relaxed atmosphere, the team quickly shifted into high gear.

Leaving out the two players in the center of the tatami mats, the left of team members and men coaches lined up in a row. As we watched with curiosity about how the practice would start, suddenly one of the players in the line stepped forward and started to fight by grappling with each other! They moved forward from the line one after another and continued to throw more and more at each other! One player after another came out, and a total of 12 sets of the grappling practice were completed. Watching closely, we saw that all the grappling techniques were different. It turned out to be a warm-up exercise with all the different techniques.

Journal-ONE | Izumi Mao who won the Grand Prix in Tunis in 2018 do Randori.

Izumi Mao who won the Grand Prix in Tunis in 2018 do Randori-Photo by Journal-ONE

The following practice was Randori. They were working with players of different ranks and with the men’s coach, each of whom seemed to have their own points for improvement. In the four minutes which was the same length as match time, they tried the same techniques and kumite over and over again, talking with their opponents and carefully working on their issues.

Yoshiyuki Matsuoka who is 8th dan and a head coach gave out advice to players practicing individually and separately. It was amazing to see how he gave different advice to each player as several pairs of players were playing at the same time.

Journal-ONE | General Manager Yoshiyuki Matsuoka represented Japan at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles

General Manager Yoshiyuki Matsuoka represented Japan at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles-Photo by Journal-ONE

After one set of four-minute practice, some players went on to the next consecutive randori. The Journal-ONE editorial staff also participated in a beginner’s practice at Kodokan once, and even one minute of practice was very tiring. Not to mention, it must be unbelievably tough to be in constant motion for four minutes, and then to be in a new set for another four minutes. The cold winter air of the Judo Hall was becoming warm and filled with the enthusiasm of the athletes.

Working on their own challenges

Rin Eguchi who is the youngest member of the team, is in the 57Kg weight class, said that she had been told by her senior that it was important to build up more physical strength, and she has been working on it. She is an apprentice of Yuki Arikawa, is 6th dan and was our instructor at Kodokan, who has been teaching her since she was a small child!

Journal-ONE | Rin Eguchi who is the youngest member of the team

Rin Eguchi who is the youngest member of the team-Photo by Journal-ONE

Advisor Nakamura encouraged Eguchi, who kept moving for eight minutes, “Never give up!”. In actual matches, a “golden score” overtime is used, in which the match continues until one of the players wins with more than a valid point first. This kind of practice to develop physical strength and concentration is important for matches lasting nearly eight minutes, which are often seen in matches in major tournaments where the players are very competitive.

Wakaba Tomita, who is in the 78 Kg weight class, repeatedly tackled men’s coaches into their chest. She was engaged in randori, discussing how to break her opponent down. She gradually got out of breath but was encouraging herself with her own strong words.

Journal-ONE | Wakaba Tomita, who is in the 78 Kg weight class

Wakaba Tomita, who is in the 78 Kg weight class-Photo by Journal-ONE

Two hours for practicing finished. It really flew by. Through this interview, we saw the Komatsu Women’s Judo Team members improving themselves with a high level of awareness, and we could clearly see that the existence of a business team is the key to raising the level of competitive judo in Japan and producing many athletes who are competitive on the world stage.
Komatsu women judo club with many outstanding players
Wakaharu Tomita who has won numerous medals in major international competitions such as the 19th Asian Championships (Hangzhou, China) held last fall, the World Championships, and Grand Slams, is one of the players who train at Komatsu Judo Club.

Tomita said that her mother had played softball and she also had been wanting to play sports. One day, she thought Judo was cool when she watched a TV program about Ryoko Tamura winning six World Championships in a row on TV and started judo after that. She went to the same high school as her mother (Saitama Sakae High School). She told us that her family is happy to support her as she continues to practice judo by belonging to Komatsu Women’s Judo Club.

In the 78Kg-plus weight class, where bigger fighters use their physiques to carry the match, she is 166 cm tall and looked relatively small. However, her speedy footwork and the many techniques she used one after another out of this practice was rare in the heaviest weight classes.

Journal-ONE | Wakaba Tomita, who is in the 78 Kg weight class

Wakaba Tomita, who is in the 78 Kg weight class-Photo by Journal-ONE

Tomita said cheerfully, “A strong point of mine is that I am not intimidated by players bigger and taller than me. I am able to keep the game moving with my techniques!” She also mentioned that she attributed her ability to her company’s support.
Komatsu’s attractiveness by Tomita
She thanked many Komatsu employees who had come to cheer her on at every match. She also told us that she refreshes herself by spending time with her dog.

Journal-ONE | Judoka Tomita said playing with his dog on his days off is refreshing

Tomita said playing with his dog on his days off is refreshing.-Photo by Journal-ONE

She had lived in a dormitory since middle school, so she wanted to have a dog one day. Now she has a Shiba Inu dog called “Momiji”. She said that she was born in spring and her name is Wakaba, and the dog was born in fall and their name is Momiji. Both of them are good friends with each other named after leaves.

She told her supportive company members that she was going to perform well in the national competitions, aiming to be selected to represent her country and win first place at the world championship as her resolution this year.

I hope now you understand that Komatsu Women’s Judo Club has great practice in this great environment.
Special contents will be continued
In articles tagged as Paris Olympic, Journal-ONE is preparing special contents to introduce the wonderful members of the Komatsu Women’s Judo Club.

Journal-ONE | Judo | Komatsu womens' Judo Club at Soushi dojo

Komatsu womens’ Judo Club at Soushi dojo-Photo by Jouurnal-ONE

In the next article, we will focus on the bond between the players and the Komatsu company that supports them, based on interviews with the players.

This is an article that will make not only judo fans but also others smile at top athletes’ charming real faces.

Please look forward to it!

Sousi dojo
  • Itabashi-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Coverage and text:
Journal ONE(Editorial department)

Recommended Articles