Olympic athletes from Shiga Prefecture in Rio de Janeiro


Updated: Aug. 20, 2016

The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in Brazil will be held on August 5–21, 2016 (Paralympics on Sept. 7–18). Out of 300+ Olympic athletes from Japan, the following Olympians are from Shiga Prefecture. To see when they will appear, click on “Olympic schedule” (NBC website). This link will also give the athlete’s results as they come in.

KIRYU Yoshihide (桐生祥秀), Track (Men’s 100 meters)

Kiryu (b. 1995) is one of Japan’s major track stars and native of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. A top-notch sprinter since 2013. He’s often in the news. Started running from when he attended Minami Junior High School in Hikone. His record time in the 100 m is 10.01 sec. and 9.87 sec. His track mates like Aska CAMBRIDGE are also awesome runners and it’s impossible to say who will prevail in Rio.

English bio | Japanese bio | Twitter | Olympic schedule & result

OTA Yuki (太田 雄貴), Fencing

Hailing from Otsu, Ota (b. 1985) won the national fencing championship while in elementary school and junior high. He went on to win the national high school championships (Inter-High School Championship) three years in a row. Graduated from Doshisha University. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he became the first Japanese to make it to the finals in fencing and brought home a silver medal. He gained national attention for winning the team silver medal at London. Then in Sept. 2013, he was in the spotlight again as a member of the JOC trying to get the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo. When “Tokyo 2020” was announced, his joyful face made national headlines. At the 2015 World Fencing Championships, he won the gold medal in the Men’s foil event. Ota is ranked No. 1 in the world as of the 2015-16 season.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

Kimura Saori at London 2012. (By Gary Howden from Brighton, United Kingdom)

Toray Arrows: KIMURA Saori, SAKODA Saori, TASHIRO Kanami (木村沙織、迫田さおり、田代 佳奈美), Women’s volleyball

Three members of the Otsu-based Toray Arrows women’s volleyball team will be in Rio. Both Kimura (b. 1986) and Sakoda (b. 1987) played in the London Olympics where they won the bronze medal. Tashiro (b. 1991) is from Ritto, Shiga. Influenced by her mom who played, she started playing volleyball from 1st grade and joined Toray Arrows in 2009. Meanwhile, the 185 cm-tall Kimura will be the national team’s captain in Rio. She will be the first Japanese volleyball player to play in four consecutive Olympic games. A real veteran and major volleyball star. The Japan women’s national volleyball team (Hinotori Nippon, 火の鳥NIPPON) is currently ranked 5th in the world. The Toray Arrows belong to the V.Premier League, Japan’s top volleyball league. The team is owned by Toray Industries, a major textile maker with factories in Shiga. Their home court is Toray Arena in Otsu.

English bio (Wikipedia): Kimura | Sakoda | Tashiro
Japanese bio (Wikipedia): Kimura | Sakoda | Tashiro
Japanese bio (Arrows): Kimura | SakodaTashiro
Facebook | Website (English) | Olympic schedule & result

INUI Yukiko (乾 友紀子), Duet synchronized swimming

Inui Yukiko (b. 1990) is an Omi-Hachiman native who started synchronized swimming from the 1st grade. At age 16, she placed 3rd in the solo competition at the Junior World Championships. Graduated from Omi Kyodaisha High School in Omi-Hachiman and Ritsumeikan University. Together with her duet partner KOBAYASHI Chisa (小林千紗), she won the national championship for duet synchronized swimming in 2009 and placed 3rd in the World Cup in 2010. The pair competed together in the 2012 London Olympics and placed 5th. Wish her luck in Rio for a medal.

English bio Japanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

NISHIMURA Ayaka (西村 綾加), Women’s Hockey

Ayaka and Minami (from Maibara's website).

Ayaka and Minami (Photo: Maibara website).

Ayaka (b. 1989) is from Maibara (Ibuki). Yay! She started playing hockey after seeing her older brother and sister play. (Maibara is a hockey hotbed.) She has been playing for the Hiroshima-based Coca-Cola West Red Sparks hockey team since 2012. She appeared in the 2015 World League semi-finals.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule & result

SHIMIZU Minami (清水 美並), Women’s Hockey

There’s not one, but two Olympian women hockey players from Maibara. And both are from Ibuki. How about that. I’ve heard that the folks in Ibuki are making a big deal out of this. Minami (b. 1993) graduated from Ibuki High School and plays for the Sony HC BRAVIA Ladies hockey team based in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture. She’s actually one of nine players from Sony HC BRAVIA going to Rio to play on Japan’s women’s hockey team (dubbed “Sakura Japan”). Her position is FW. What a thrill it must be for both of them to be in Rio. Something that will bond them for the rest of their lives.

English bioJapanese bioFacebook | Olympic schedule & result

ISEDA Megumi (伊勢田 愛), Women’s Windsurfing

Charming girl (b. 1987) from Takashima, Shiga Prefecture. The kanji character for her first name is pronounced “Megumi” instead of “Ai.” Interesting that her father ran a windsurfing shop in Takashima so she was exposed to the sport since childhood. But ironically, she didn’t care for it until she went to college. While at Doshisha University, she won the All Japan collegiate championship. She qualified for the Rio Olympics by placing 21st at the 2015 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships held in Oman. She always practiced windsurfing on Lake Biwa and wants to promote windsurfing at Biwako. While practicing in Rio in July, a school of dolphins surprised (welcomed?) her.

English bioJapanese bioBlog | Olympic schedule & result

KAZUNO Kenta (数野 健太), Badminton

Native of Otsu, Kazuno (b. 1985) attended Hie-zan High School and Nihon Univ. He specializes in badminton doubles. Joined UNYSIS in 2008. He won the mixed doubles at the 2015 All Japan Championships. He also won the Osaka International Challenge doubles three times in a row, won the Polish Open Men’s Doubles in 2015 (with Yamada Kazushi), and won the Malaysia Masters Men’s Doubles (with Yamada Kazushi). He is the captain of Japan’s badminton team in Rio. Let’s see if he can continue his winning streak in Rio.

English bioJapanese bioFacebook | Olympic schedule & result

HAYAKAWA Kenichi (早川 賢一), Badminton

Another badminton Olympian from Otsu. Hayakawa (b. 1986) has been playing badminton since elementary school. Attended Hie-zan High School and Nihon Univ. Like Kazuno Kenta, he belongs to UNYSIS and specializes in badminton doubles. Men’s doubles runner-up (with Endo Hiroyuki) at the 2016 All England Super Series Premier.

English bioJapanese bioOlympic schedule & result

*Marathon runner KITAJIMA Hisanori (北島寿典) was born in Koka, Shiga, but moved to Maebashi, Gunma as an infant.

KIMURA Keiichi (木村 敬一), Paralympics Swimming

Born in Ritto in 1990, Keiichi has been totally blind since age 2. From 4th grade, he took up swimming. He made the Japanese Olympic team in Beijing in 2008 and in London 2012. In London, he won the silver medal for the 100 m breaststroke and bronze for the 100 m butterfly. Rio will be his third consecutive Paralympics.

English bioJapanese bio | Olympic schedule

MIYAJI Mitsuhide (宮路 満英), Paralympics Equestrian

Last but not least is an amazing story and struggle behind 58-year-old Miyaji Mitsuhide joining the Paralympics for the first time. Originally from Kagoshima, Miyaji is a former race horse trainer at the Ritto Training Center and lives in Konan. In 2005, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side and affected his speech. As part of his rehabilitation, he took up equestrian activities. With much struggle and support from his wife, he got good enough to enter the Rio Paralympics.

English bio | Japanese bio | Twitter | Facebook | Video | Olympic schedule

GOOD LUCK to all the athletes in Rio!!

Japan Olympic Team Facebook | JOC (English)

Shiga History Jan.-Mar. 2014

Chronology of Shiga Prefecture’s news bits for January-March 2014 (according to the year, month, day, and time posted at Japan time).

Originally posted on Twitter under Shiga Headlines by Philbert Ono. Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters including spaces and links (shortened by Twitter).

Taga Taisha

Taga Taisha on Jan. 1, 2014.

2014/1/1 11:31 Happy New Year 2014! Visited Taga Taisha today. Lot more crowded than before. Sacred dances were nice too. http://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=138
2014/1/4 4:56 During Jan. 1-3, 2014, Taga Taisha saw 490,000 worshippers (5,000 more than last year), Omi Jingu 150,000, and Nagahama Hachimangu 150,000.
2014/1/7 15:33 Hikone’s official mascot, Hiko-nyan, received 12,352 New Year’s postcards from all over Japan and even Taiwan during Jan. 1-6, 2014.
2014/1/8 4:39 Very pretty rendition of Biwako Shuko no Uta, Shiga’s most famous song. Sung by a choir called Harmonia Ensemble. http://t.co/QyfCXmhLR9
2014/1/12 11:44 My comprehensive video about Lake Biwa’s endemic fish and microscopic life. 琵琶湖博物館 http://t.co/FOdugpiUkn
2014/1/14 16:41 Hikone Higashi High School newspaper aims to connect with Fukushima Pref. – The Japan News http://t.co/aHc4gFVZKv
2014/1/15 14:08 Kansai region’s first roundabout circular intersection opened today in Tatsuta, Moriyama for a trial until late Mar. http://t.co/CAaZH61wpL
2014/1/16 14:01 Construction of Niu Dam in Nagahama to be canceled as per the Kinki Regional Development Bureau’s decision to improve river systems instead.
2014/1/16 14:12 Himeno Kaoruko 姫野カオルコ, from Koka, has won the prestigious Naoki Prize for her novel, “Showa no Inu” 「昭和の犬」 (Dog of the Showa Era).
2014/1/19 14:17 The Kuroda Kanbee Expo opened today in Nagahama. Held in concert with this year’s NHK Taiga Drama called Gunshi Kanbee. 黒田官兵衛博覧会 軍師官兵衛
2014/1/20 17:22 Moguls skier Miki Ito from Hino and halfpipe snowboarder Rana Okada from Otsu will represent Japan at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
2014/1/24 14:26 Led by fraud and auto theft, the number of crimes in Shiga in 2013 increased by 2% to 15,448 over 2012 amid an average crime rate of -4.4%.
2014/1/28 12:12 To curb the declining no. of visitors (360,000 in 2013), Lake Biwa Museum’s exhibits will have a major overhaul for its 20th anniv. in 2016.
2014/1/28 12:23 Pay cuts for most of the 17,000 Shiga Pref. employees (police, teachers, etc.) since 2003 will be abolished at the end of this fiscal year.
2014/1/30 11:59 Flu and viral gastroenteritis warnings issued in Shiga. Higashi-Omi, Koka, & Otsu have the most flu patients. Wash your hands, avoid crowds.
2014/2/2 14:06 Breakfast for ¥100 at Ritsumeikan University’s Kusatsu campus a hit among students. The day’s most important meal. http://t.co/aXumtIQHJ7
2014/2/6 13:35 Visitors to Mt. Ibuki will start paying ¥300 on weekends and holidays this May-Nov. 2014. To help maintain hiking trails, toilets, & flora.
2014/2/6 15:55 Miki Ito had to skip the Women’s Moguls Qualifying Run 1 at Sochi today due to a flare-up of her injured right knee. http://t.co/pOTtYOT39v
2014/2/7 13:29 Sadly, Miki Ito is unable to compete at Sochi due to her injured right knee. She withdrew from the Women’s Moguls Qualifying Runs 1 and 2.
2014/2/12 18:36 Otsu native Rana Okada 岡田良菜 placed 5th in the ladies’ halfpipe at the Sochi Olympics. The highest ever for a Japanese in this event.
2014/2/24 15:43 Kumamoto’s Kumamon is Japan’s most popular mascot with 156,462 FB likes, overtaking Hiko-nyan’s 47,678 likes. https://t.co/qxHmhzilA0
2014/2/25 13:28 Enryakuji’s main hall, Konpon Chudo (National Treasure), to be renovated from 2016. Last renovated in 1955. http://t.co/0l1TG3CMet
2014/2/28 2:25 Shigaraki Kogen Railway aims to reopen in Dec. 2014 after starting repairs in March. Buses currently ply between Kibukawa-Shigaraki.
2014/2/28 8:46 Feb. 26: Notogawa High School students in Higashi-Omi marked Pink Shirt Day by wearing pink “No Bullying” T-shirts at a nursery school.
2014/3/1 10:40 The hundreds of tons of radioactive wood chips abandoned along Kamo River in Takashima last April was finally removed on Feb. 26.
2014/3/3 2:25 Mar. 2: Ethiopian Bazu Worku won the 69th Lake Biwa Marathon in 2 hr 9 min 10 sec. Satoru Sasaki 佐々木悟 was 2nd, and Yuki Kawauchi 川内優輝 3rd.
2014/3/3 2:41 Mar. 1: Amphibious bus tours start in Nagahama. 45-min. tour from Otabisho for ¥2,800. Tours held daily 9 am-5 pm. http://t.co/w0U1VMOWgM
2014/3/6 9:47 The movie, 偉大なる、しゅららぼん (Idai na Shurara Bon), filmed in Shiga, will open on Mar. 8. Buy advance tickets by the 7th.qVzUdl
2014/3/6 13:07 The Shozu-no-Sato Committee 針江生水の郷委員会 in Harie has won the top Ecotourism Grand Prize エコツーリズム大賞 sponsored by the Japan Ecotourism Society.e Japan Ecotourism Society.
2014/3/8 6:34 The movie, 偉大なる、しゅららぼん (Idai na Shurara Bon), filmed in Shiga, opened today. Main stars appeared at Marunouchi Toei theater at 2 pm in Tokyo.
2014/3/14 11:39 Cultural Affairs Agency recommending Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri as one of 30 float festivals for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. 無形文化遺産
2014/3/19 11:11 My movie review of Idai Naru, Shurarabon filmed in Shiga. しゅららぼん http://t.co/ZrgF46sNR8
2014/3/27 9:14 Gov. Yukiko Kada still has not announced whether she would seek reelection on July 13, 2014, election day.
2014/3/27 9:22 Kusatsu, having Shiga’s highest rate of bicycle thefts, is Japan’s 2nd city to have a law requiring bicyclists to lock their bicycles.
2014/3/28 12:34 2.06 mil tourists visited Hikone in 2013, 30,000 more than in 2012. One-third of them gave Hiko-nyan as the main reason for visiting.
2014/3/30 14:20 Mitsui Outlet Park in Ryuo and other shopping malls were busy this weekend as shoppers try to beat the 8% tax hike starting on April 1.

Click here for Shiga History Apr.-June 2014.

Miki Ito wins World Cup dual moguls


Congratulations to Miki Ito who won the World Cup dual moguls event today (Feb. 24, 2013) in Inawashiro, Fukushima. She is from Hino, Shiga Prefecture. It is her first freestyle moguls World Cup victory.

Dual moguls has two skiers compete against each other on each run. Ito, along with Aiko Uemura and Junko Hoshino, advanced to the final round of 16 competitors. For her final run, she beat an American to win the World Cup. She is gunning to appear in the Winter Olympics.


Nionoumi, sumo wrestler from Shiga Prefecture

Went to see sumo on January 25, 2013, the 13th day of the New Year’s sumo tournament at the Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo. I finally saw Nionoumi (鳰の湖), Shiga’s only sekitori (a sumo wrestler in the second-highest Juryo or highest Makunouchi/Makuuchi Division). He was ranked West Juryo No. 14.

It’s been two years since Nionoumi (pronounced Nio-no-umi) first made it to the Juryo Division. He has since been going down and up in the ranks. At this month’s New Year’s tournament in Tokyo, he ended with a decent 8 wins and 7 losses. Since he was already ranked at the bottom of the Juryo Division, it looks like he will retain his rank or be slightly promoted in Juryo for the next tourney in March in Osaka.

This is good news. The difference between Juryo and the lower Makushita Division is huge. There used to always be a Shiga sumo wrestler in the top Makunouchi Division, but not anymore. At least we got one in Juryo who will hopefully get back up to Makunouchi.

Born in 1986 as Shinji Tanaka (田中 真二), Nionoumi is from Otsu and a graduate of Ojiyama Junior High School. He practiced judo as a child and became quite formidable, becoming one of the top 16 junior high school finalists in a national judo tournament. After graduating from junior high school, he entered Kitanoumi Stable run by former Yokozuna Kitanoumi (one of the greatest yokozuna ever) and current chairman of the Japan Sumo Association. Nionoumi made his sumo debut in March 2002. At 175 cm and 148 kg, he’s kind of small for a sumo wrestler and looks somewhat stocky.

His ring name “Nionoumi” means, “Lake of Little Grebes.” This is Lake Biwa’s nickname which stems from the lake’s numerous water fowl including the Little Grebe which is Shiga’s official bird. I think it’s a great ring name. It also retains part of his stablemaster’s ring name of Kitanoumi (Lake of the North 北の湖) which refers to scenic Lake Toya in Hokkaido where Kitanoumi grew up and has his Yokozuna Kitanoumi Memorial Hall museum.

Nionoumi (right) is pushed out by Oiwato on Jan. 25, 2013, the tournament’s 13th day. Video of this bout: http://youtu.be/VPxD8mbxgDk

Nionoumi was first promoted to Juryo in Jan. 2011. But his Juryo debut ended disastrously with 5 wins and 10 losses and he was demoted back to Makushita. After two tourneys in Makushita, he climbed back up to Juryo in Sept. 2011. In Jan. 2012, he even made it to the top Makunouchi/Makuuchi Division as Maegashira No. 16. Unfortunately, his Makunouchi debut ended terribly with 5 wins and 10 losses which demoted him back to Juryo. He has since been struggling in Juryo. Let’s hope that he will keep winning in 2013.

Meanwhile, we have three other sumo wrestlers from Shiga in the lower sumo divisions. In Sandanme, there’s Koryuyama (b. 1979 甲龍山) from Koka and Naniwaryu (b. 1982 浪花竜) from Otsu. And in Jonidan, Tomonofuji (b. 1977 智ノ富士) from Ritto. Although they are already in their 30s (which is quite old for a sumo wrestler), good luck to them as well.

Links: Nionoumi Bio | Koryuyama Bio | Naniwaryu Bio | Tomonofuji Bio

Koryuyama (right) is quickly defeated by Tamanotaka (left) on Jan. 25, 2013, the tournament’s 13th day.

Naniwaryu (right) is pushed out by Nishiyama on Jan. 25, 2013, the tournament’s 13th day.

*Updates: Koryuyama retired at the end of the March 2013 tournament in Osaka. His highest rank was Sandanme 26 with 354 wins, 362 losses, and 33 absences in his career. Also, a new sumo wrestler from Otsu named Kotomiyakura (琴宮倉) appeared in his first tournament in May 2013 in Tokyo

Although Nionomumi did well up to May 2013, he did poorly in July (1-14) and got demoted to Makushita. As of Nov. 2013, he was ranked West Makushita No. 5.

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