More than a Sport
For some employees at Kusakura, judogi production and sales is more than just a job.
Veteran salesman Kazunori Ohira, who has practiced judo since he was 10, still swaps his business suit for a judogi — made by Kusakura of course — to teach children judo after work.
He also goes personally to follow up on the sale of judogi to a club at a local high school and watches the children when they participate in tournaments.
“I’ve been in charge of children here for over 20 years,” the 44-year-old told AFP.
“You can’t be sure until you see them in matches if you delivered the right size of judogi,” he said.
“It’s always on my mind… It’s my occupational hazard that I have to go and see the matches.”
Respect is a key plank of judo, and students are expected to show it for their uniforms, as well as the parents who paid for them, and opponents who help them grow stronger, Ohira explained.
“It’s considered ugly to just stride over judogi or an obi laid on the floor,” he said.
“In Japan, judo is still more like a ‘martial art‘ than just a sport.”