The wonderful world of the University of Tokyo's sports facilities

The overriding image of the University of Tokyo may be of a university dedicated to academic excellence, but the University also possesses a wealth of sporting facilities and training grounds. Here we introduce just a small selection of these facilities, the existence of which may come as a surprise to some. We also report on some of the problems facing the University of Tokyo's sporting facilities.

An expansive all-purpose sports facility

Kemigawa Athletic and Sports Ground

Kemigawa Athletic and Sports Ground

Kemigawa Athletics and Sports Ground covers approximately 330,000 square meters, in which you can find five soccer pitches, eight tennis courts, a rugby pitch, American football pitch, baseball field, a cross-country course and gymnasiums. It is also home to Kemigawa Seminar House, which can accommodate 180 overnight guests. Kemigawa has close ties with the sporting world, having hosted practice sessions of the Japan National Football Team, and also has an Olympic history, having served as the cross-country venue for the modern pentathlon at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The grounds can be used by non-university organizations (reservation required) and charges for use are minimal. Between sporting activities visitors can admire the beauty of the Chiba Oga lotus blossoms that were recreated from seeds discovered within the grounds at Kemigawa.

Recreation facilities open to alumni

Sportia

Sportia is the name given to the association of hostels run by the Athletic Foundation of the University of Tokyo. There are four hostels in total, which are available for the use of students, university staff members and alumni and their families. All of the hostels have a variety of unique features: the Yamanaka hostel was beautifully remodeled and refurbished in 2009 thanks to a donation from Mr. Susumu Naito, Chairman of Rinnai Corporation; the Heda hostel has a Japanese-style single scull boat that is available for the use of guests; the Shimokamo hostel features a hot-spring bath with water flowing directly from the spring source; and the Norikura hostel is a simple mountain lodge at an altitude of 1,700m, where guests can immerse themselves in nature. Students can stay at the hostels from 1,500 yen per night and the price for alumni starts at 1,900 yen. There is simply no reason not to stay!

A baseball ground and a tangible cultural heritage site

University of Tokyo Baseball Ground

University of Tokyo Baseball Ground

The University of Tokyo Baseball Ground is home ground to the University's regulation baseball club. It was completed in 1936 under the direction of Yoshikazu Uchida, architect and 14th president of the university renowned for the "Uchida Gothic" style. The eye-catching design of the ground, which features spectator seats, a dug-out and fence sheltered by a semi-circular convex roof supported by reinforced concrete pillars was registered as a tangible cultural heritage site by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2010, the first time for any baseball facility in the nation to be so honored. The poor condition of the artificial turf had been a pressing issue, but thanks to the support of the University of Tokyo Baseball Ground Turf Fund a total of 75 million yen was successfully raised and new artificial turf was laid in 2012. From both inside and out the ground is now in a state that befits its designation as part of the nation's cultural heritage.

Climbing wall

Gotenshita Memorial Arena

Gotenshita Memorial Arena

The Gotenshita Memorial Arena is a first-class general sports complex featuring an amazing array of facilities. These include a training room fitted out with approximately 80 of the latest machines, a pool with a state of the art water purification and filtration system, an exercise studio for yoga, dance and other floor-based programs, a gymnasium, and both climbing and bouldering walls. The sports consultant room is a place where University staff are available to provide expert advice relating to training and exercise.

A FIFA-certified Astroturf pitch

Gotenshita Ground

Gotenshita Ground

Right above the Gotenshita Memorial Arena is the Gotenshita Ground, which has full flood lighting equipment installed. The hybrid Astroturf is approximately 6cm thick and composed of FIFA-certified rubber chips. It is well used by sporting clubs and societies for practices and is also available free-of-charge for personal use during weekday lunch breaks. As the midday bell sounds you can always see staff running out on to the pitch to enjoy an energetic lunchtime!

An equestrian ground

Mitaka Horse Track

Mitaka Horse Track

For members of the University of Tokyo, the location of Mitaka conjures up images of the Institute of Astronomy, the international hall of residence and the Mitaka Horse Track. For four years running the University of Tokyo equestrian team has participated in nationwide competitions and it is here at Mitaka that the stables and horse track are located. The facility is home to 10 horses and 26 students are engaged in regular training. The facility is not just for the use of the equestrian team-for 1,500 yen any University of Tokyo student can take a riding lesson. There's no excuse not to jump into the saddle!

The boathouse

Toda Boathouse

Toda Boathouse

The university boathouse is situated at the eastern end of the Toda rowing course in Saitama Prefecture. The training camp accommodation for boat club members is integrated into the boathouse itself, and just next door is also the Asano boathouse, with seminar rooms and meeting facilities. Entering this complex is like entering through a doorway to another world-one that is steeped in the culture and history of the University of Tokyo's sporting prowess. In addition, the No. 2 Gymnasium on the Komaba Campus boasts one of only three rowing tanks in Asia.

A 2.5m-deep pool

Second Refectory Basement Pool

Second Refectory Basement Pool

The fact that this basement pool exists at all is probably something that many of the people who use the Second Refectory and the Co-op book store do not know. It has a depth of 2.5m, meaning that it can be used for water polo and diving, as well as for swimming races. A member of the university swimming club provided us with this "deep" comment: "Swimming costumes and training methods may have changed with the times, but the pool is still the same as always."

A sumo dohyo

Komaba Combat Sports Gymnasium

Komaba Combat Sports Gymnasium

Komaba Campus is home to the sumo dohyo (ring) and rooms of the University sumo club. According to a member of the sumo club: "We are fortunate to have an indoor sumo dohyo. Once every few years we request the renowned Takasago Sumo Stable to attend to our ring and ensure everything is in order. We are always looking for new club members!" If you are looking for a new sport to try while at the University of Tokyo, why not take a look at sumo?

Even gliders

Aviation Club

Aviation Club

Photo: Masatoshi Kameo

At the University of Tokyo students can fulfill their dreams of soaring silently through the sky like a bird. The photo shows one of the three gliders owned by the university aviation club (a SZD-51-1 model), which is known to all as "Junior." Although "Junior" is a little slower than the other aircraft owned by the club, it is a perfect machine for first-time pilots in a single-seat aircraft and is also easy to operate, as well as being robust and strong. There are opportunities for students who have never flown before to take to the skies in a glider.

The University of Tokyo has still more facilities that are sure to interest a wide range of students and help everyone keep fit and in trim! These include the Shichitokudo Japanese Sports Gymnasium, which is registered as a historic building by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the archery (kyudo) halls at both Hongo and Komaba campuses (Ikutokudo and Kozendo), the Second Komaba Ground (hockey field) with its Astroturf field, the Research Center for Total Life Health and Sports Sciences at Kashiwa Campus with its "cognitive-motion training machines," and the tennis courts at each campus.

However, some sports facilities are facing challenges...

It is easy to get the impression that everything is fine with the university’s sporting facilities, but it is not all good news. Taking a look around the various sites it becomes evident that there are some areas that are in need of maintenance and general care and attention. There are locations where name plates have fallen off, or where the gymnasium carpets smell, where the tennis court fences are damaged, and where the humidity of the swimming pool has caused wall paint to peel off. In this state there is a real possibility that accidents could happen, or that the hopes and expectations of young University of Tokyo sportsmen and women could be dashed.

The University of Tokyo Foundation ? Supporting our sporting facilities

Projects made possible by the University of Tokyo Foundation

Under the auspices of the University of Tokyo Foundation under the Alumni Office is the “University of Tokyo Sports Promotion Fund,” which engages in a broad range of activities to improve the sporting environment of the University. It is extremely simple to make a donation to the fund and in so doing help the University’s sporting life. All donations are invaluable to the sporting clubs, and go towards improvements and maintenance, including the renewal of field turf, or the replacement of aging equipment, as well as to transportation expenses, etc. Donations also are put to use to develop sporting facilities for the entire student body. Here we have listed some of the projects that generous donations have made possible, but there is still a great deal to do. We hope to be able to continue to enjoy the benefit of continued support through the University of Tokyo Sports Promotion Fund. Your generosity is much appreciated.