Always be grateful

13 May 2020

Kaori Matsumoto (Fourleaf Japan Judo Club), who won the gold medal in the lightweight (57kg) division of the women’s judo at the London Olympics, arrived in Melbourne. Kaori injured her elbow and is using her rehabilitation time to visit Melbourne. We went with Kaori to her visits to the Japanese School of Melbourne and the Japanese Consulate.

Discussions at the Japanese School of Melbourne


A group discussion was held amongst all the students of the Japanese School of Melbourne. A variety of topics were discussed, including Judo, the Olympics, the students’ and Kaori’s favourite foods, as well as Kaori’s favourite Dragon Ball character. Kaori managed to answer all of the students’ questions.

Many students asked Kaori how many hours she spent on Judo practice. To the students’ surprise, she answered ‘Since primary school about 4 hours per weekday, and 12 hours on other days.’

Kaori even showed a demonstration of the one arm shoulder throw to the student who asked about her best skills.
When asked about the emotions she was feeling when she won the gold medal at the London Olympics, Kaori reflected on her feelings, replying ‘It was like my life up until then was flashing before my eyes, and the only words I could form were words of gratitude.‘

One hour of questions passed in no time, and in parting, Kaori left by handing out origami and one last word of wisdom. ‘Grow to be respectable adults, and always be thankful to your parents.’ This valuable opportunity to speak with a gold medalist will surely be great motivation for the students.

Social gathering at the Melbourne Consulate

Consul-General Hidenobu Sobashima and Kaori Matsumoto

A social gathering was held at the Consulate, and Kaori expressed her gratitude towards all those who showed support during the London Olympics.

Kaori had two main encounters during this visit to Melbourne. The first was a sweet ice cream that Kaori enjoyed. This comment made the whole audience burst into laughter. The second was the scenery and tranquility of Melbourne. She could calm herself to forget about the stressful life as an athlete and be ready for the next competition.

Finally, Kaori announced that she will work hard to win another gold medal in the next Olympic Games, held in Rio. Following that, those present at the gathering had the opportunity to talk further or take photos with Kaori.


During her busy schedule, we also got a chance to interview Kaori.

This visit, you mentioned ‘gratitude’ on many occasions. When did you start consciously thinking about it?
I first felt gratitude when I started Judo. At first I wasn’t fully aware of its importance, but I encountered an obstacle that I couldn’t overcome without knowing it. I realised that without support I couldn’t continue my Judo career. From that, I could be grateful for everything from my parents, as well as fellow Judoka.

As the game starts, your facial expression is quite striking. When does it change from your regular expression?
Just before the game starts. When I’m in the waiting room I feel relaxed enough to talk with the other Judoka. We are happy to be able to compete with each other on multiple occasions, and usually talk about it with each other.

Finally, could you leave a message for all the Japanese people working hard around the world?
When I go overseas, it is important that I never forget that I am Japanese. The culture-rich national sport that is Judo has a saying. ‘Start with a bow, end with a bow.’ Gratitude and compassion towards the other player is shown through this. Remember this, work hard, and be proud of yourself.

Translation: Adam Feldman

Be first to comment