The Kodokan Judo Institute (Kodokan) represents the origin of Judo that was started by Kano Jigoro Shihan (professor) in 1882 and that has spread in about 200 countries and regions in the world. Kodokan was present at the Paris Grand Slam to display judo as a part of Japanese culture. IJF Media had a chat with Kodokan President, Mr. Haruki Uemura, and the Director of the Kodokan Museum, Mr. Murata Naoki.

“Kodokan has an important mission, i.e. to transfer judo properly to the next generation”, explains Haruki Uemura. “That’s the reason we are present here. That’s our mission and we will continue to do this, to teach judo properly. Now and in the future.”

“In Paris, with this exhibition we wanted to introduce Japanese culture and judo is being an important part of it. The Paris Grand Slam is a great opportunity to share this history to the world. Judo was born in Japan, but nowadays, judo is spread all over the world. Here, we had good results with the competition. But it is satisfying to notice that judo strongly grows worldwide, and many strong athletes are competing from all over the world. Judo culture has spread around the world as a global culture.”

Indeed, on the occasion of this Grand Slam, the Organizing Committee also celebrates the 160th anniversary of the relationship between France and Japan. This celebration was very noticeable with the Kodokan exhibition in the competition venue. The exhibition is called Japonism, a terminology which often refers to the incorporation of either iconography or concepts of Japanese art into European art and design.

Uemura Haruki, President of the Kodokan

“Japonism is one of the events of the Japanese Government, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to introduce Japanese culture to the world,” explained Murata Naoki, Director of the Kodokan Museum. Paris was chosen as the perfect location. Judo is one of the tools to present Japonism, like Ikebana (flower arrangement) or Kabuki (classical Japanese dance drama).”

Sport is a universal language and is therefore a great tool. “After the industrial revolution, working class people could spend more time on leisure. So, sport became a way of relaxing and spending one’s free time. Hence, the purpose of sport is enjoyment. However, judo is more than a sport. It’s a lifestyle. Japanese people will not pretend judo is only sport. It’s much more. So, if we as Japanese are confronted with the nomination of judo as a sport, we always find it a little bit strange. But indeed, globally, judo is a big sport and also one of the main events in the Olympic Games. With Japonism, we want to show the world that judo is more than a sport. We want to stress also the other aspects that are entangled with judo,” stated de Museum Director.

Murata Naoki, Director of the Kodokan Museum

The Exhibition

“With this modest exhibition we try to explain what judo is and how it is intertwined with Japanese culture,” said Murata Naoki. Besides a video explaining the history of judo, in a second room the Director of the Kodokan Museum showcased four important and unique artifacts of the museum which are valuable pieces of its collection.


There is a rule written by the founding father of judo Jigoro Kano, i.e. a draft of Randori-no-kata. Jigoro Kano founded the Kodokan on June 5th, 1882. It says that the Randori-no-kata (form of techniques for practice) which consists of 15 Naga-waza (throwing techniques) and the same amount of Katame-waza (ground techniques) was established around 1884. Basic movements of judo.

Scrolls of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu (Roll of Heaven, Roll of Earth and Roll of Man)

Jigoro Kano studied two styles of Ju Jitsu: the Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and the Kito-ryu. The first one was founded in the early 19th century by Iso Masatari and provided great inspiration to Kano when founding the Kodokan Judo. In 1879, he received from his master Hachinosuke Fukuda these scrolls which are a symbol of license of Tenjin Shinyo-ryu.


The third exhibit item consists of a Katana (long sword), a Wakizashi (short sword) and a Tanto (dagger) which were used by the Samurai. In ancient times Samurai learned four skills, i.e. archery, horse-riding, sword fighting and of course martial arts.

Judo’s Credo

Last exhibition piece are two scrolls with the credo of judo as proclaimed by its founder Jigoro Kano: Jita Kyoei (Mutual welfare and benefit) and Seiryoku Zenyo (Maximum efficiency). Jigoro Kano used only four letters to communicate the values of judo. “The shorter the better and easier to spread the message,” says Murata Naoki. “The efficient use of the mental and physical strength of judo, that’s the message. Those two principles by Kano represent the spirit of judo.”

Interesting to know is that in 1909 Jigoro Kano became the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee. His ideas of wellness of body and mind for the youth was a message well accepted by Pierre de Coubertin.

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