kodokan in japan

can anyone please give me any information or tips on going to the kodokan and training. I'm a brown belt and i'm thinking of going to japan. It would also be nice to hear of anyones past expreriences at the kodokan. Thank You

the Kodokan would be a great fit for you. you dont really need anybody to vouch for yo uthere, you can just find out their class schedule for those who are under black belt and show up. there is a fee, but its not that much considering that you will be in the truest home of judo. the coahces there are always awesome too.

i would just remind you that at someplace like the Kodokan you must absolutley, without a doubt know the etiquette of judo. dont go there and forget to bow into the dojo and onto the mat or use a simple head nod for what should be a bow, etc.. etc..

smiling however, is permitted. =)

thanks for the reply josh.


i'm 25, canadian and planning to be there for around a month. I don't really consider myself extremely competitive like for example joshua resnick but do want to train hard. I guess my priorities on the trip would be to experience japan and train judo. I wouldn't consider it a trip strictly to train. Thanks

i hate to say it, but this fella isnt ready to go to someplace like tokai or tsukba. there is just no way in hell that a brown belt should be going someplace like that to train with those guys. it would be the worst experiece he could possibly have.

they most likley would want anything to do with him-- the players that is. they'd leave him on the sideline for an eternity becuase they flat out wouldnt trust his abilities. there is no reason for anybdoy who is not already a top-level youth or very competitive senior to be going to any of the major universities in japan.

he absolutely should go to the kodokan. once he is there and people can weigh his abilities for themselves he can go ahead and see if other places like Keio University (which is not a top-tier judo school but more like an ivy leage school) would be okay for him.

i wouldnt bother telling him about training with the -national team practices at the Kodokan-- he would not be allowed to train with them. at best he could sit above and watch them train, but he isnt gonna be allowed to participate at all. and, thats a good thing.

dont get ahead of yourself and please dont take my words as anything cruel. the last thing anybody wants is for you to go there and get blasted into eternity. go to the proper practices at the kodokan and see how you do. once there then maybe you can find other places to train as well-- but, by all means, you are not ready to go to places like Tokai, Tsukuba, Nitaidai, Kokushikan, IBU, Meiji, Tenri, Chou, or the other top-flight universities for judo. you would honestly either hate the experience or get hurt.

admittedly, you are not an extremely competive person. so dont go looking for those who are in a foreign land. when i go to those universities i get creamed day in and day out, even the best in the world go to those places and get whipped on or injured. you will be able to find a dojo to train at every night if you wish, but first things first, go to the kodokan.


My advice. If you want to go to KDK, talk to your instructor. They will probably know somebody who has contacts at KDK, and can get you in contact with someone there who can help you out a little bit. My experience there was ok. It was cool to be on the top floor at Kodokan, but obviously was just one of the gaijin. I went while I was on vacation in Japan. To be honest, I had a better time training in Kyoto at Ritsumeikan University. Ritsu is not a top judo university, but that didn't matter to me anyway. The students there were much more welcoming and willing to work with me, and there was some learning rather than just randori the whole time. Although randori was a large part of the workout.

I can't speak on the high level universities that Josh and SuperMario are talking about, but from what I understand, you have to be careful where you go for reasons that they both state.

Good luck

I don't think i'll be heading out to those big universities anytime soon. It sounds like the kodokan is my best bet to train initially. Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. I had a similar injury to your with the MCL, can you recommend a knee brace that is legal in tournaments.

When you went to the less competitive universities did you just show up or was it by a connection? I don't think that I would have the balls to just show up at some uni and start training without intro. Thanks

wow, you seem to have a lot of experience being and training in japan. Any cool training stories? Thanks for all the information.

Isn't there a foreign speaking class in Kodokan? I remember reading something like that on their site


I had introductions for both Kodokan and Ritsumeikan. It's best if you have an introduction no matter where you go. That way you at least have an idea of who to talk to and when to show up for class/randori. The nice thing is, that if you talk to some of your senseis you'll probably find a connection.

Arriving in Japan was a huge shock for me since I really didn't speak much Japanese except "eigo wakarimasu ka (do you speak english?) lol :-). Be prepared to feel totally helpless at first. Luckily I had a japanese friend that arrived to Tokyo about an hour before me and my wife and he helped us. At any rate, If you plan to fly into Narita airport there are shuttle busses that go into tokyo. I think the ride was around $15 US.

Anyway, however you do it, try to get in touch with somebody before going to train anywhere. It will help.


i think he should go to the kodokan, here's why:

1. its the HOME of judo. its the one place that everybody who loves judo should go, period.
2. he can have fun there. the randori, though not the best in the world, is a good time. i know i enjoyed my experience there and he most likely would too.
3. places like Keio and Waseda would be far better for him than Tsukuba as well. to be very honest with you, i know the coach as Keio very well, his son went to SJSU and he comes here for 2 or 3 months every year, and i can promise that he'd be open and helpful to a foreign visitor-- far more than Okada would have time for considering he has several players who are in the top-tier of Japan's judo team.
4. he is going to japan anyways, he might as well find a way to enjoy it with some FUN judo-- not get creamed and learn to hate it.

SuperMario - where do you train? Are you in the Philadelphia area? Are you still doing judo?

gundam0 where are you from? I'm also a Canadian judoka and ikkyu. Back in 2002 i lived and trained at Keio for about 3 months, and on my business trips to Japan since then (since I cant make it out to Keio during the day when they have practice), I've been to the Kodokan for the randori class.

I think SuperMarioSak is pretty good at being an info source, but not to knock what he's saying too much, i dont think he was really taking into account what you're describing what you want and need. Josh is more on track. But hey, ultimately its up to you to decide.

I appreciate all the info that everyone has given. I already sent an email to the Kodokan asking for some info, so hopefully they will respond. I'll be living in Toronto starting next week. How did you find the randori at the Kodokan? do you think its easy to live there without knowing the language fluently?

i dont speak a lick of japanese. is it easy, not particularly, but youll get along fine. just be patient and take a transliteration book with ya.

one of those books with japanese words spelled in english letters.

hey i recieved detailed info from the kodokan and it sounds easy enough to participate in the randori sessions. I do have a question about the randori sessions. Can anyone describe how the randori session go. Is it formal, do people just start warming up on their own etc etc. The reason i'm asking is that i wouldn't want to disrespect anyone while i'm there by missing to do something.

This has been a very informative thread. On a related note, would any of your reccomend any japanese-language tapes and CD's that you've used and found helpful? Thanks!


gundam0, you'll be in T.O.? Cool. Alot of clubs to choose from, so feel free to ask.

regarding training at Kodokan, randori free practice costs about 800 Yen (about $10 Cdn last time i was there, last October). First you register with the Int'l Division on the main floor, let them know when you'll be coming to class and they'll introduce you to the Sensei. The $40 lifetime Kodokan memebrship was optional -- depends how long you're staying.

on the changeroom floor, i think it was the 4th floor? ... you pay your 800 yen, and there's a changeroom specifically for foreigners. after you change, head up to the main dojo. remember to bow in, bow to shomen, and find the head sensei on the floor and bow to him as well. it usually helps to ask other foreigners re: etiquette.

As for practice, warm-up by yourself, then ask people for uchikomi or randori practice. fairly informal. if you want to do groundwork, thats ok too, but just stay off to the side where people aren't doing tachiwaza.

skill wise, i felt that the high school and university judoka i trained with at Keio were much more difficult to deal with ... probably cause they're still young and do it f/t!! while the Kodokan seems to attract people that want to continue judo post university as well as new beginners (but not in the RFP class). In the RFP class, skill levels will vary, but i found it good training. BTW: only ikkyu and yudansha in the RFP class. Also, pay attention to who's there as there's often nat'l level people or teams visiting from other countries participating in the RFP -- so careful not to ask to randori with people far above your skill level! In any case, they'll usually be by themselves off to their own part of the dojo.

mario, that was a great tutorial.
i wish somebody had done that for me before i went to japan to train, i wouldnt have been such an idiot then. =)
and, i sure as hell would suggest going there with a nice haircut and shaved face. i went with the biggest mop-flop haircut and a beard similar to grizley adams.. lmao, thats what ya get when you are a dopey 18 year old kid who is just there for the hell of it. when i finally got to kokushikan university they took me to get a haircut the day after i arrived. it was hilarious.

wow that is some detailed info. thanks. have all of you traveled and trained at the kodokan by yourself. the reason i'm asking is that i might have to travel by myself. did any of you find it easy to tour the surrounding areas by yourself? again thanks for all the info

how was the training at kokushikan?
its awesome. its as good as anywhere youll get in japan-- outside of tokai, but thats mainly becuase of all the international players they get there IMHO. they have some of the top players in japan-- with several of their guys generally being in the top 5.

saito is the head coach there and he is really friendly to the foreigners, not to mention he really doesnt forget a face too often. it is also about 1/2 as much as tokai or the other universities people generally go to.

yup travelled there by myself, didn't speak much nihongo b4 i went either. basically karate and judo terms only! hahahah!

in any case, Tokyo is fairly easy to get around sans Japanese lessons. Have fun and try it out. you wont regret it!

BTW: i'm off to Japan on a b-trip next week and I'll be packing my gi. I'll be in Tokyo Feb 19-22 and should be there again in late March and again in June. If you're heading over any of those times, drop me a line.