Report on the 70th National High School Kendo Championship



Report: Teraoka Tomoyuki
Photography: Nishiguchi Kunihiko
Translation: Jouke van der Woude

For the past three years, they have devoted themselves to rigorous training with the hope of becoming the best in Japan. The culmination of their efforts, the Inter-High (officially known as the “All Japan High School Comprehensive Athletic Meet”), took place this year in Obihiro City, Hokkaido. In the men’s team competition, the formidable Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto) defeated Fukuoka Daiichi High School (Fukuoka) to reclaim the title. In the women’s team competition, Moriya High School (Ibaraki) achieved consecutive victories in spring and summer by defeating rival Meiho High School (Oita). In the men’s individual competition, Moriyasu Taiki from Fukuoka University Ohori High School (Fukuoka), who was unable to participate in the team competition, reached the top carrying the emotions of his teammates. In the women’s individual competition, Monden Rika, the captain of Nakamura Gakuen Girls’ High School (Fukuoka), shook off the feeling of defeat in the team competition and claimed the title of the best in Japan.

Men’s team: Kyushu dominance unleashed

This season’s men’s team competition was speculated to be open to any victor. The recurrent champions, Kyushu Gakuin, stumbled in the spring, leaving room for Fukuoka Ohori to claim the top spot. However, despite their success, Fukuoka Ohori couldn’t advance past the prefectural qualifiers, thus missing out on participating in this tournament. Even the national second-placed team, Nagasaki Nanzan High School (Nagasaki), fell in the prefectural qualifiers to Shimabara High School (Nagasaki). Moreover, the third-placed Shitennoji Higashi High School (Osaka) also missed out on the opportunity to compete, leaving only Saga Kenritsu Miyaki High School (Saga), a spring-place team, to participate in this tournament, which was somewhat an abnormal situation.

Within this context, the former year’s champions, Shimabara, were particularly noteworthy. Shimabara clashed with Ryukoku Toyama High School (Toyama) and Taisha High School (Shimane) in the D-League. While they secured a 1-0 victory against Ryukoku Toyama, the second match against Taisha resulted in a close battle of effective strikes, ending in a 1-2 defeat. Taisha managed to break through the league, terminating Shimabara’s bid for a consecutive victory.

Miyaki, the national third-place team, led by the highly acclaimed player Kitahara as their captain, had a strong start in the match against Kofu Commercial High School (Yamanashi) in the first round. However, the second match against Seibi High School (Gifu) saw a tough turn after the Fukusho-sen, leading to a challenging situation where they allowed a lead. It was only through Kitahara’s victory that they managed to break through the league. In the knockout first round against Hamana High School (Shizuoka), Hamana fought valiantly, securing two wins in the Chuken-sen. Heading to the final captain match, Kitahara found himself in a considerably tough situation and was pushed to battle under intense pressure. In an unexpected turn, he suffered two losses in a mere 19 seconds, shattering the hopes of being contenders for the championship.

The schools that advanced to the quarterfinals were Hamana, Taisha, Meioh High School (Akita), Fukuoka Daiichi, Kyushu Gakuin, Kochi High School (Kochi), Tokai University Urayasu High School (Chiba), and Mito Kiryo High School (Ibaraki). In the quarterfinals, while Kyushu Gakuin and Fukuoka Daiichi advanced without conceding a single Ippon, Taisha and Mito Kiryo secured their spots in the semifinals with comeback victories.

The semifinal between Taisha and Fukuoka Daiichi was a slugfest. Both teams took two wins and four individual victories each, leading to the decisive Daihyo-sen. Despite the advantage seemingly leaning toward Taisha’s Hatano, who had been winning his way up in individual matches, Fukuoka Daiichi’s sophomore captain, Tokunaga, rose to the occasion and claimed victory. The clash between Kyushu Gakuin and Mito Kiryo also ended with each team securing one win, heading to the deciding Daihyo-sen, which culminated in Ishida of Kyushu Gakuin snatching victory with a decisive strike, claiming the victory in the showdown of powerhouses.

Additionally, Uenomiya High School (Oskaka), led by player Kawai, who secured second place in the individual competition, was eliminated from the league stage despite a win and a draw against Hiroshima Minami High School (Hiroshima) and Tsuruga High School (Fukui). For the teams making their first appearances in this tournament, none managed to advance past the qualifying rounds.

First place: Kyushu Gakuin (Kumamoto)

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