The site of the main venue of the Tokyo Olympics, where construction is moving ahead, was the Meiji Jingu Gaien Stadium before the War. Few of the young people of today know of the farewell ceremonies for students being sent to war that were held there in 1943. These events were symbolic of the drafting of students, which began due to the worsening of the war situation. Nakashio joined the army as one of the first contingent of student soldiers, which produced the greatest number of war dead.


Living through dangerous missions such as the transport voyage to China through attacks by enemy submarines, he survived to see Japan’s defeat, but to him, removed far from contests during his prime as a sprinter, taking on the world seemed a vain dream.


The following year, he graduated from university, returned to Ishinomaki, and started work as a senior high school teacher. Seeking to regain the time he had lost, he became an adviser to the athletics club. He himself continued to run, taking his students along with him, and built up a record of participation in Tohoku and national championships as an active athlete.


After his role as an active participant ended, while serving a referee at regional competitions, he learned of the Japan meeting of the Masters Athletics contest for middle-aged and older contestants, and retired from his job a year before the compulsory retirement age. This was in order to aim right away for a world record in the 60 and over category of the Masters, which is divided into five-year groupings. From then on, he participated in sprints in Tohoku, national, and international contests.


From the age of 68 onwards, he has been active in the five weight throwing events (hammer, shot put, discus, javelin, and weight throw), boasting ten victories at national level and an all-Japan record. There are hopes that this “iron man” will achieve a world record in the 95 and over category this year.


Zenjiro Nakashima

Born in Ishinomaki in Taisho 12 (1923). Graduated from the School of Political Sciences and Economics of Waseda University in 1946. The students he taught while working at senior high schools include Olympic athletes. He was a prizewinner at the Japan Sports Association’s second Japan Sports Grand Prix. He is a member of the Miyagi Masters Athletic Association and an adviser to the Ishinomaki City Athletics Association.

Cooperation: Ishinomaki RINRI Hojinkai President, Seizo Abe

Translation: Media Research, Inc.


This article originally appeared in “Shinsei” magazine, February 2018 issue, published by RINRI Institute of Ethics. Partially rewritten to update for this internet release.

Spirit and Spine

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