Osaka people: Police tokuren captain, Teramoto Shoji (35)
(The following is a quick translation on a newspaper piece on the hugely popular Teramoto Shoji. The article was published in Osaka version of the Mainichi Shinbun on the 18th of January 2011. The picture at the top of the article is by George and was taken in the Osaka Budosai in 2008. Teramoto is on the left..)
Emitting authority – the quest for strength
“Kendo has no end point, no final destination”
Working as Japanese captain in the 2009 world championships, he took the top position in the team and individual competitions. Even now, however, he is still seeking to polish his spirit, technique, and body: Osaka special police kendo team captain, Teramoto Shoji (35).
On the 30th of August 2009, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Japan won the mens team competition in the World Kendo Championships. Team captain Teramoto went over to his team mate and cried on his shoulder. “Its not easy being the captain. Rather than happiness, I feel relief that I was able to carry out my responsibilities.”
From the first world kendo championships until the one prior to Brazil – Taiwan in 2006 – Japan had never failed to win (Japan took male and female individuals as well as the females team competition. They were beaten by America in the mens competition and had to settle for third place). At a time when the Japanese team performance received many criticisms, Teramoto was selected as team captain.
Teramoto was born in April 1975 in Kumamoto prefecture. At that time his father (66) was in the construction industry and his mother (60) a housewife. Impressed by seeing his cousin doing kendo, he started when he was in 1st year of primary school (6yrs old). Having to shoulder the burden of his sons kendo costs his pessimistic father said to him “If you are going to do kendo, do it seriously. Don’t do it half-hearted then quit!” From the start, Teramoto was resolved to do his best at kendo, and he still holds his fathers words close to his heart even now.
In 1998 he entered the police force. At 183cm’s and with a strong body the shihan (of Osaka tokuren) saw his future promise and worked to have him join the squad. Compared with other team members who had won lots of shiai in their school and university kendo careers, he had an unremarkable past and was a complete unknown.
“I left my parents in my hometown, resolved my will, and joined. I didn’t want to end my kendo career as just another ‘normal’ kenshi.”
From this feeling he became a “keiko mushi” (a term used in Japan to mean someone who does lots of keiko at different places). Teramoto would try to find free time and go to other dojo and practise as much as he could. The squad manager at the time – Ishida Yoji – recognised that Teramoto was inquiring deeply into how to become strong.
Teramoto has won the All Japan kendo championships. In 2006 and 7 he was part of Osaka team that won the police championships two years in a row. From 2008 he became the team captain but there has already been talk of his retirement as he’s already reached the retirement age (34 is the normal age tokuren are retired). However Teramoto wants “to become stronger. I want to show this (in shiai).” Recapturing the police championship title is his goal for this year. With a mind on winning – “I want to drink delicious sake (after winning)!” – this years preparations have begun.
He lives with his wife (Mai, 35, who he met at the police kendo club), his daughter Suzuna (8), and his son Takeyori (4). In their daily life recently there has been a welcome change: His daughter Suzuna, who has always said “I don’t want to do kendo” suddenly changed her mind and said “I want to do kendo.” “Before she changed her mind again I bought her kendo equipment” said Teramoto, and – for a moment – his usual kenshi face turned into that of a normal father.
The Online version of this article (Japanese) can be seen here.