The bronze statue in front of the building catches the eyes of passers-by on Hakusan Dori. This is Kodokan, the center of Judo founded by Judo practitioner and educator, Jigoro Kano. Kodokan sends Judo experts to regions both inside and outside of Japan to share knowledge, techniques and refereeing skills.
A lot of trainees from all over the world come to the main dojo of Kodokan and practice Judo every day. There is a section where English speaking staff arrange a private lesson by experts or a practice at the main dojo for trainees from other countries. Many instructors are fluent in English and can teach Judo in English. There are also lodging rooms inside Kodokan, and anyone who practices Judo can use them.
In addition, Kodokan has great facilities such as Museum and Library that anyone interested in Judo can use. Kodokan Judo Museum is comprised of Historical Materials Display Room, Hall of Judo Luminaries and Jigoro Kano Memorial Hall and displays documents and photographs that show the history and development of Kodokan.
The calligraphy hung in the front of Historical Materials Display Room that says “With no disturbance in mind, feel the wonder of nature and without intentional actions, pursue the essence of changes” was brushed by Kaishu Katsu. Kaishu Katsu was deeply impressed when he saw the founder Jigoro Kano perform kata, so he brushed this calligraphy and gave it to Kano as a gift. You’ll find other materials that show the history of Kodokan Judo including the very first enrollment book and training uniforms of Shiro Saigo (Shida), a Judo practitioner who is said to be the model of the main character in the novel called “Sanshiro Sugata.”
In adjacent Hall of Judo Luminaries, you’ll find photographs and brief biographies of 19 Judo practitioners who made contributions to the development of Judo. Great achievements of such individuals as Shiro Saigo and 10th dan Yoshitsugu Yamashita, who was the Judo instructor of US President Theodore Roosevelt, are celebrated. Further in the back, you’ll find Jigoro Kano Memorial Hall where documents, photographs and artifacts related to Jigoro Kano are displayed. His Judo uniform, which looks like it was torn and mended a number of times, and two calligraphies that represent Kodokan principles of "Seiryoku-Zenyo" (maximum efficient use of energy) and "Jita-Kyoei" (mutual prosperity) show his genuine passion toward Judo.
There is a souvenir shop on the first floor of the Kodokan International Judo Center where they sell various unique items found only here including Japanese hand towels and Judo uniforms. Please stop by the shop if you get a chance.
Jan 2017 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi
Kodokan Judo Museum and Library 1-16-30, Kasuga, Bunkyo-Ku, Tokyo Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 Closed: On Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, during summer vacation and around New Year’s Day Admission: Free