Pin It

  • From Yorkshire to Yokohama

    Commodore Perry’s Black Ships sudden appearance in Edo Bay in 1853 heralded the end of two centuries of self-enforced Japanese isolationism. It also marked the beginning of a period of rapid modernisation, during which Japan would borrow and adapt many western ideas, eventually making them their own.
  • fter 1858 the fishing ports of Yokohama and Kobe grew rapidly as they became home to hundreds of British and American merchants, soldiers and sailors.
  • images/Timelines/1866.jpg

    In 1866 the Japan Times, an English language newspaper, printed a short article that announced the creation of a football team in the port of Yokohama. Playing mostly rugby rules, Yokohama Foot Ball Club became the first football club in all of Asia.
  • Rugby Missionaries

    Ginosuke Tanaka arrived in England in 1891 and enrolled at Leys School in Cambridgeshire and later Trinity Hall, Cambridge. From an early age he supplemented his education with sport. At his first school he was described as a ‘conscientious forward. At his best in the scrum.’
  • Edward Bramwell Clarke, an expatriate Englishman, was born and raised in Yokohama and had become childhood friends with Ginosuke. The two attended Cambridge University and on their return to Japan took up teaching posts at Keio University. Between them they introduced rugby to the students in 1899.

    Ginosuke Tanaka is remembered as ‘the father of Japanese rugby’.

    ‘I introduced Rugby to the men of my then classes at Keiogijiku because they seemed to have nothing to occupy them out of doors in the after summer and winter days. I thought if I could get them interested in rugger their hours during their free afternoons would not be so long and wearisome. My Japanese was too rough and ready, my vocabulary far too scant to explain the fine points of the game, so I asked my friend Tanaka Ginnosuke to come to my help, which he did with great readiness and enthusiasm, and so the game was started.’ – Edward Bramwell-Clarke
  • Brave Blossoms

    ‘I should like to see a system of inter-school or inter-collegiate sports, like those in England and America, established in Japan’ – Edward Bramwell Clarke

    In the early part of the 20th Century rugby spread from Keio to other universities and educational establishments.
  • Doshisha and Waseda Universities contested the first inter-university game in 1923 and regular inter-collegiate rugby followed. A generation of Japanese rugby pioneers came in to being. Prominent amongst this group was Shigeru Kayama. Kayama was the coach of Tokyo University RFC and in 1925 travelled to England where he represented Harlequins and Richmond.
  • In 1923 Kayama had explained the rules of rugby to Prince Chichibu, second son of Japanese emperor Taisho. Prince Chichibu visited Twickenham in 1925 and observed Kayama on the field. 

Pin It