The life of Jigoro Kano

Jigoro Kano and the Olympics

A first big step into the world

A first big step into the world

Japan's national team for her first Olympiad participation had only two members. Both would compete only in track and field events: the 100-meters, 400-meters, and the marathon. Although they fared poorly at the games, it marked a big first step into the world for Japan sports. It was during this Olympiad that Jigoro first met Baron de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, and the baron inquired about Judo. Jigoro explained that Judo was a martial art which stressed the efficient use of one's mental and physical energies, and involved extensive training designed to improve one's mind and body, thereby perfecting one's character while leading to the perfecting of others as well. The baron, a fervent advocate of the mutual prosperity of mankind, found these concepts to be concordant to his own ideals, and a friendship was formed between the two men based on a deep mutual understanding.

Reference: [Past Olympiads in which Japan participated] (5th to 11th Olympiads)

Year Olympiad Site and Japanese Team Size Medals Won
1912

5th Olympiad, Stockholm, Sweden; Japan's first participation

Team size: 2 members (track-and-field only)

 
1916 6th Olympiad was canceled due to WWI.  
1920

7th Olympiad, Antwerp, Belgium

Team size: 15 members

Silver medals
Tennis (2 medals)
1924

8th Olympiad, Paris, France

Team size: 20 members

Bronze medals
Wrestling (1 medal)
○Placed highly (top eight)
6 events
1928

9th Olympiad, Amsterdam, Holland

Team size: 43 members, including 1 woman

Gold medals
Hop, skip, and jump
Swimming (breaststroke)
Silver medals
Women's 800-meters
Bronze medals
Swimming (100-meters freestyle)
1932

10th Olympiad, Los Angeles, USA

Team size: 131 members

Gold medals
Hop, skip, and jump
Equestrian (Individual jumping)
Swimming (200-meters breaststroke)
Swimmers won gold medals in 5 of the 6 events.
Silver medals
Pole vault
1936

11th Olympiad, Berlin, Germany

Team size: 179 members, including 17 women

Gold medals
Hop, skip, and jump
Marathon
Swimming (200-meters breaststroke)
Women's swimming (200-meters breaststroke)
Silver medalsBronze medals
Pole vault