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Japanese Soccer Personalities


Japan Football Hall of Fame

1st group of inductees, 2005
1st group of inductees, 2005
Born in Oita Prefecture on February 15, 1906.
Graduated from Tokyo Imperial University.
Worked as students' representative and as office director of the Faculty of Agriculture at Tokyo Imperial University. After the Second World War, takes posts of instructor and professor at University of Tokyo, and professor at Shibaura Institute of Technology.
First director of the Nursing Division in the Medical Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Appears as a member of the Japanese national team at the 7th Far Eastern Championship Games (1925, Manila), 8th Far Eastern Championship Games (1927, Shanghai), and 9th Far Eastern Championship Games (1930, Tokyo). Takes role of captain at the 9th Games and leads Japan to its first title.
Undertakes role of coach at 11th Olympic Games (1936, Berlin).
Appointed as manager of Japanese national team in 1951. Earns right to compete in 16th Olympic Games (1956, Melbourne). Also active as international referee between 1951 and 1957.
Combines roles by donning whistle at 16th Olympic Games (1956, Melbourne).
Accompanies Japanese national team to several international tournaments as team director and executive, including role as director of Japanese team at the 6th Asian Games (1970, Bangkok).
Devoted efforts to develop Japan Football Association as member of the board for 45 years from 1929 to 1974. Appointed as first chairman of directors in 1948.
Also sat on the board of Japan Sports Association.
Awarded Blue Medal of Honour in 1976, and 3rd Class Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1976.
Passes away in 1980.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum


Short for his surname, Shigemaru Takenokoshi's friends knew him as "Noko", while I and his other juniors addressed him with the more respectful "Noko-san".

Born in the city of Usuki in Oita Prefecture, Takenokoshi transferred to Dalian First Junior High School (Dalian at the time being under Japanese rule) during his second year under the old schooling system, and it was here that he came to learn and become obsessed with soccer. His passion grew at the old Yamaguchi High School (now Yamaguchi University), and he appeared at the 1st All-Japan High School Football Tournament (former Inter-High, in 1923), where his school lost in the final to Shigeyoshi Suzuki's Waseda High School.

Here, Takenokoshi learned that the level of soccer at Waseda High School had been advanced under the coaching of Kyaw Din from Burma (now Myanmar), and went on to accompany him as apprentice on his coaching tour of Japan, becoming a practitioner of Kyaw Din's "How to Play Football".

In 1925, Takenokoshi entered the University of Tokyo, and it was from this year that the golden age for the university began.

In 1927, he was added to the Japanese national team at the 8th Far Eastern Championship Games to provide reinforcement to the Waseda WMW team that had been victorious in the national preliminaries, and played in the tournament in Shanghai to help Japan to a 2-1 win over the Philippines – its first ever victory in an international soccer match. Japan's first goal was scored by the captain, Shigeyoshi Suzuki, but it was Noko-san who added the second.

The combination of Suzuki and Takenokoshi became manager and captain-coach respectively at the 9th Far Eastern Championship Games in 1930. With a victory over the Philippines and a 3-3 draw with the Republic of China, Japan shared the honour with the latter of being champions of East Asia.

Later, Noko-san would play a key role in the technical field at the Japan Football Association (JFA), leading Japan as coach of the national team to dramatically come from behind and record a miraculous 3-2 victory against Sweden at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and playing an important leadership role during the period of recovery after the Second World War. He would also contribute greatly to Japan's successes at the Tokyo (1964) and Mexico City (1968) Olympic Games by assisting the reinforcement of the national team – inviting Dettmar Cramer to Japan in 1960 when head of the technical committee for the Tokyo Games, and appointing the young Ken Naganuma and Shunichiro Okano as manager and coach of the side, respectively.

Takenokoshi devoted himself to the highest level of technical skill acquisition in Japan, and had a broad perspective over soccer across the globe. He promoted "speedy, short-passing attacking, high work rate, and mental toughness to take advantage of our nimbleness" as a means for the Japanese national team to succeed on the international stage.

From his days as a player to his time as a manager, and the 45 years he spent on the board of the JFA, Noko-san's 74 years were one long tale of soccer. The passion that he always showed meant that many stories about him are remembered to this day. His juniors would relish these stories, and would recall Noko-san's attitude to concentrate on technical aspects from their early devotion to soccer as youngsters and on throughout their careers.


  • 15 February 1906 - Born in Oita Prefecture.
  • 1929 - Graduates from the University of Tokyo. Represents the Japanese national football team in the Far Eastern Championship Games throughout the late Taisho Period and early Showa Period (i.e. 1920s and early 1930s), captaining the victorious team in 1930. Appointed to the board of the Japan Football Association.
  • 1936 - Coaches the national team at the Berlin Olympics.
  • 1948 - Appointed as chairman of directors of the Japan Football Association (serving until 1974). During his time at the helm, also serves as Japanese team director at the 1953 World Student Games, and as manager at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. Overseas the incorporation of the Japan Football Association as an independent corporate entity in 1974, before retiring from his position. Serves as advisor to the JFA until his death. Also served as students' consultant and Faculty of Agriculture office director at the University of Tokyo, where he additionally held teaching and professorship positions in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
  • 1967 - Awarded Blue Ribbon Medal of Honour.
  • 6 October 1980 - Passes away.
  • 27 May 2005 - Elected into the Japan Hall of Fame as part of the first group of inductees.