Photograph by 平嶋理子

The 2024 All Japan Weight-Class Judo Championship, held on April 6th-7th at the prestigious Fukuoka International Center, witnessed an exhilarating display of skill and determination from top judo athletes across various weight categories. Among the standout performances was Tomita Wakaharu’s awe-inspiring achievement in the women’s +78kg division, as she claimed an impressive fourth consecutive title. Notably, Hamada Naori, the reigning Tokyo Olympics champion, also secured her fourth championship title in two years in the same weight category.

In the women’s 63kg division, Aono Minami representing the Fukuoka Prefectural Police emerged victorious, capturing her first-ever championship title. Aono faced off against the reigning 2022 World Champion, Horikawa Megumi from Park24, in a thrilling final match. With the bout entering into the Golden Score (GS) extension period, Aono sealed her victory with a decisive ippon win, executing an inner thigh throw after 41 seconds of additional time.

In the women’s 70kg category, Tanaka Shiho from JR East Japan secured her second championship title after a two-year hiatus. Tanaka faced the promising young talent Honda Mayu from Tokai University in the final. With a victory by three penalties (shido), Tanaka emerged as the triumphant judoka.

Hamada Naori Claims Victory in Women's +78kg Final

In the highly anticipated women’s +78kg category, Hamada Naori, the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist and member of the Self-Defense Forces, returned to the pinnacle of success after a two-year interval. Utilizing her signature ground techniques, Hamada swiftly defeated her opponents, winning two matches by ippon. In the final, she faced Ikeda Kurenai from Tokai University and triumphed with a skillful outer reap technique, securing her fourth title.

Furthermore, in the women’s +78kg open weight division, Tomita Wakaharu representing Komatsu showcased her dominance by achieving a remarkable fourth consecutive victory. In the final, she defeated Arai Mao, the reigning World Junior Champion from Nippon Sport Science University. The main match lasted the full four minutes without a decisive outcome, leading to an extension period of one minute and 27 seconds. It was during this time that Tomita executed a corner drop technique, known as sumi-otoshi, earning a waza-ari and solidifying her victory.

The 2024 All Japan Weight-Class Judo Championship provided an exceptional platform for Japan’s judo elite to demonstrate their skills, determination, and unwavering spirit. Tomita Wakaharu’s outstanding four-peat victory in the women’s +78kg division served as a testament to her remarkable talent and perseverance, while Hamada Naori’s triumphant return to the top solidified her status as an accomplished champion in the judo community.