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Path of Waseda Athletics

Waseda University is proud of the role that it has played in the development of athletics in Japan.
Now, what can Waseda University do in the future to further uplift athletics in Japan?
Also, how far can the potential of athletics be taken as part of university education?
We shall search for our future path by clarifying the current state of research activities and competitive athletics.

Tracks of our Predecessors

The more than 110 years of Waseda sports history can also be called the history of Japanese sports itself. Let’s reflect proudly upon the path walked by our predecessors.

Chronological Table of Waseda Sports
1895 Establishment of “Waseda Club”, the predecessor to athletic clubs.
1897 Establishment of an Athletic Department at Tokyo Senmon Gakko.
1901 Establishment of baseball team; first victory won in an intramural match against Gakushuin.
1903 1st Waseda-Keio baseball game. Keio wins.
1905 Waseda wins the 1st Waseda-Keio Regatta.
1914 Baseball league formed from the 3 universities of Waseda, Keio, and Meiji.
1922 Waseda wins first victory in the 3rd Kanto University Long-Distance Relay Race between Tokyo and Hakone.
1928 The 1st periodic Waseda-Keio rugby match is held.
1932 Mikio Oda (School of Commerce) wins the first ever gold medal for Japan when competing in the triple jump at the Amsterdam Olympics. In swimming, Katsuo Takaishi (School of Commerce) won a bronze medal in the 100 meter freestyle, and Nobuo Arai (Special School of Politic Science and Economics) and Hiroshi Yoneyama (First Waseda University Senior High School) both won silver medals in the 800 meter relay.
1936 At the Los Angeles Olympics, Chuhei Nanbu (graduate of Special Commerce School) won a gold medal in the triple jump and a bronze medal in the long jump. Shuhei Nishida (School of Science and Engineering) won a silver medal in vault, Toshio Irie (School of Science and Engineering) won a silver medal in 100 meter breaststroke swim, and Takashi Yokoyama (School of Commerce) won a gold medal in the 800 meter swim relay.
1942 At the Berlin Olympics, Shuhei Nishida won his second consecutive silver medal in vault. Shigeo Sugiura (Special School of Politic Science and Economics) won a gold medal in the 800 meter swim relay, and Shozo Makino (School of Commerce) won a bronze medal in the 400 meter freestyle swim.
1943 Waseda University Athletic Conference dissolved due to WWII.
1946 Final Waseda-Keio baseball game (game to see students off to the battlefront). Dissolution of the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League.
1960 Restarting of both the Athletic Conference and the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League.
1964 At the Rome Olympics, Tsuyoshi Yamanaka (School of Education) won a silver medal in the 400 meter freestyle swim, Yoshihiko Osaki (School of Commerce, II) won a silver medal in the 200 meter breaststroke swim and a bronze medal in the 400 meter medley relay.
1968 At the 18th Olympics, held in Tokyo, Yojiro Uetake (studying abroad in America at the time) won a gold medal in wrestling. In swimming, Kunihiro Iwasaki (School of Education) and Yukiaki Okabe (School of Political Science and Economics, II) won bronze medals in the 800 meter relay.
1978 At the Mexico Olympics, the Japanese soccer team, which held 5 Waseda students, won a bronze medal, and Kunishige Kamamoto (graduate of School of Commerce, II) was the leading point-getter during the Olympics. Takeshi Kato (graduate of School of Commerce, II) won a gold medal in comprehensive group gymnastics, and a bronze medal in floor exercises.
1984 Toshihiko Seko (School of Education) won the 13th Fukuoka International Marathon with the 2nd fastest time in history.
At the Los Angeles Olympics, Akira Ota (graduate of School of Education, currently Associate Professor at the School of Sports Science) won a gold medal in wrestling.
1992 At the Albertville Winter Olympics, Kenji Ogiwara (School of Human Sciences) and Takanori Kono (graduate of School of Human Sciences) won gold medals in the Nordic ski combined team event.
1994 At the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, Kenji Ogiwara and Takanori Kono won their 2nd consecutive gold medals in the Nordic ski combined team event.
2006 At the Torino Winter Olympics, Shizuka Arakawa (graduate of School of Education) won a gold medal in figure skating.
Main Performances of Waseda Sports in Recent Years
2002 For the first time in 52 years, achieved consecutive spring and autumn championships in the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League. Tsuyoshi Wada (School of Human Sciences) set a new league record by striking out at total of 476 batters.
2003 Won the National University Rugby Championships for the first time in 13 years (since 2003, 3 more championships were won for a total of 14 championships)
2007 Achieved consecutive spring and autumn championships in the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League, and won the All Japan University Baseball Championship Series for the first time in 33 years.
2008 At the 84th Round-Trip Long-Distance Relay Race between Tokyo and Hakone, won the return leg for the first time in 12 years and placed 2nd overall.
At the Beijing Olympics, Asami Kitagawa (School of Sports Science) set 4 consecutive new Japanese records in the 200 meter individual medley swim and finished in 6th place. Takuro Fujii (graduate of School of Sports Science) won a bronze medal in the 400 meter medley relay.

*Only major Olympic records have been listed.
Athletes that were currently Waseda Students at the time of their performance have the school name listed in parenthesis. Athletes that were alumni at the time are listed as graduates.
Reference Documentation: “A Century of Waseda Sports” (Published by Waseda University)

Commemorative photograph of victory in the 1st Waseda-Keio Regatta. The 1st Waseda-Keio Regatta was held due to a letter of challenge sent from the Waseda Rowing Club to the Keio Rowing Club. Waseda won a victory over Keio. (From "A Century of Waseda Sports")

Track and field athletes/swimmers leave by boat to the Los Angeles Olympics, to which Waseda sent 39 representatives. It is said that the athletes trained even while on the boat. (Private collection)

The "Final Waseda-Keio Baseball Game" (game to see students off to the battlefront) was held on October 16th, the day before mobilization of students, at a time when it had become apparent that Japan was losing in WWII. After the game, it is said that Waseda sang "Wakaki-chi", Keio's supporting song and Keio sang "Miyako-no-Seihoku (Northwest of City)", Waseda's school song. Everyone then joined together for a chorus of "Umiyukaba" that filled the stadium. (From the collection of the Waseda University Archives.)

Pitcher Yuki Saito (School of Education) contributed to consecutive spring and autumn championships by posting a total of 8 wins in the spring and autumn leagues. Saito took the mound in 3 games of the 56th All Japan University Baseball Championship Series: the 2nd game, the semi-final game, and the championship game. Saito contributed to Waseda's first championship in 33 years by recording 2 wins, and he was selected as the Series Most Outstanding Player.

Messages from Alumni

We received messages from 3 people who, as Waseda alumni and as athletes, had a major effect on the development of sports in Japan, and who also performed as professional athletes.

I want us to realize that people grow through education.

Tatsuro Hirooka  Graduated from the School of Education in 1954

The Waseda University Baseball Team was established by Professor Isoo Abe. “The Spirit of the Waseda University Baseball Team” is a work written by Professor Suishu Tobita, an alumnus of the baseball team and a former manager who is called the father of the Waseda baseball team. His work contains the following passage: “A uniform should be given only to those who understand the philosophy of Waseda and also possess skill in baseball”. Members of the team were strictly schooled to protect the traditions of their predecessors, to value their duty as students, to take pride in their role as an athlete, and to put forth their best effort every day. This was also true when I was a member of the Waseda baseball team. I hope that current members of all the athletic clubs at Waseda will remain free from the commercialism that prevails in this age. It is my wish that they respect the tradition of each team, take pride in their being a Waseda athlete, and work diligently in their life as a student.

Furthermore, I would like university athletics to realize the importance of developing students through education instead of focusing on recruiting skilled athletes to win contests. It is necessary to realize the wonder of “man being the lord of creation”. For that purpose, we must consider what must be done and what is required. The reform of human beings is required. In the process until now, too many passive ideas have entered our subconscious without our knowing. We must rid ourselves of these things. We must begin to replace the passive with the active, or, in other words, we must begin to renew the elements of our conception. By becoming an active person, the nervous system works more vigorously and correctly, and health is achieved. When this happens, a different world can be seen. In this way, education contains powerful energy. The ability or failure to realize this is the difference between leading a fulfilling lifestyle as a student and as an athlete, or leading a lifestyle of regret.

Tatsuro Hirooka

During his time at Waseda University, Hirooka created a name for himself as a star player in the Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League. He was a member of the Yomiuri Giants during his playing days. After retirement as a player, he served as a fielding coach, head coach and manager for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the Yakult Swallows, and the Seibu Lions. He led Yakult and Seibu to league championships and victory in the Japan Series. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Confront the Unknown Future without Anxiety

Kenji Ogiwara Graduated from the School of Human Sciences in 1992

The 4 years that I spent as a student at Waseda University remain fresh in my mind even now. In particular, the time I spent as a member of the ski team is a precious memory. I led a disciplined lifestyle during the 4 years that I spent living in the dormitory of the ski team. Also, I became captain of the ski team when in my senior year, and worked to unite our team in pursuit of team goals, such as victory in the intercollegiate championships.

These experiences continue to be of value to me in my current work, and also in my lifestyle itself.

Furthermore, my experiences at Waseda University had a great influence on my later activities as a professional skier. During my senior year, I was able to win a gold medal in the Albertville Olympics, which were the first Olympics in which I competed. This medal was a reward for the original training regimen that I created and followed with my seniors on the ski team, and gave me confidence that I was capable of anything if I made an effort. Without a doubt, this experience led to my success after graduation, including my consecutive gold medal at the Olympics, as well as to my victories in the World Championships and World Cup.

I hope that everyone at Waseda values their current initiatives and puts forth their best efforts. If you commit yourself to what you are doing, then you can face an unknown future without anxiety.

Kenji Ogiwara

Ogiwara won gold medals in 2 consecutive Olympics as an athlete in the Nordic combined team event. He also won the individual category of the World Cup a total of 3 times. After retirement from his career as an athlete, Ogawara has performed volunteer activities to teach the fun of skiing to children. Won his first election to the Upper House in July of 2004. He is currently actively working to promote sports, resolve education issues, and solve environmental problems.

There was something that Attracted the Hearts of People

Takamichi Sasaki  Graduated from the School of Human Sciences in 2006

The thing which I learned best by participating in sports at Waseda University is the “importance of setting a goal and strictly following the process to achieve that goal”. This is the philosophy of victory and the secret to success. While it may seem to be a conventional idea, that kind of culture existed at Waseda. I am now a professional rugby player for the Suntory Sungoliaths, but what I seek through my play does not differ significantly from the time when I was a student at Waseda. Only my goals have changed.

The things that we have done move the hearts of many people. These are the experiences that remain in my heart even now, after graduation, not the act of winning or losing a game. Without intention, there was something in these experiences that attracted the hearts of people. Now that I have graduated from university, I would like to become a person who can intentionally create this kind of feeling, and I am working my hardest every day.

Waseda was also an opportunity for me to learn the happiness of the environment which I was in and the number of people who supported me. Students have the special privilege of receiving that solid support and devoting themselves wholeheartedly to study and sports. Do not waste this special time in your life, do not lose sight of your goals, and work as hard as possible. As an alumnus of Waseda, I truly support everyone’s activities!

Takamichi Sasaki

Sasaki served as captain of the Waseda University Rugby Team during their championship season in 2005. He now plays for the Suntory Sungoliath in the Japan Rugby Top League. He is also a member of the Japanese national team, and served as the youngest game captain in history at the game with Australia during the 2007 Rugby World Cup (France tournament).