Home Community Budokan Dojo Celebrates its 50th anniversary

Budokan Dojo Celebrates its 50th anniversary

Alvin Terada (left) is one of the ten original judo instructors who started Budokan in 1968. He is the last active original board member of the non-profit Judo organization, and has been heavily involved in the operation of the dojo with his wife Mitsuko (right). Mitsuko came to the United States to teach women’s judo, met Alvin at Budokan, and is the oldest female instructor at the dojo today.

by Misa Murohashi,

Budokan Dojo, located inside of Seattle Japanese Language School’s building 2 (1414 S. Weller St. Seattle), began its history in 1968. Ten young founders – George Beppu, Collin Blakley, Alan Fujii, Lewis Gaither, Frank Kobuki, Yukiya Ninomiya, Dave Sellen, Hiro Takahashi, Alvin Terada, and Tosh Yamamoto – began Budokan Dojo with about 30 students at the old “Main Bowl” site near the present day Seattle Lighting Company. In February 1969, Budokan hosted their first judo tournament at the present day Seattle Buddhist Temple Gym. Thirty-nine judo dojos were invited from all over the Pacific Northwest. Tournament sponsors included Uwajimaya, North American Post, West Coast Printing, Higo Variety Store, Mutual Fish, Bush Garden Restaurant, C.T. Takahashi, Dave Sellen Construction, Maneki Restaurant, and Imperial Lanes to name a few. The tournament started at 10 am and finished nearly 12 hours later after the Black Belt Finals. Three to four hundred competitors came to test their skills at this new event.

In 1987, Budokan Dojo moved to the current JCCCW location from the temporary location at the closed Lincoln High School (The dojo was closed in 1980 because of the Main Bowl building
renovation and reopened in 1982 at the temporary location.) The Japanese Language School’s building 2 was in a state of disrepair and originally condemned for occupancy by the Seattle Fire Marshal’s Office. When Budokan members renovated the space, doors of the Japanese Language School opened for the first time in 30 years. Until the late 1950’s, the building was used for resettlement of Japanese and Japanese-American families returning from concentration camps during WWII. An incredible treasure trove of Post-WWII memorabilia and items from the residents was discovered by the Budokan Dojo’s renovation project. Many of those articles and items were featured in a National Park Service sponsored project by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington (JCCCW) called “The Hunt Hotel Project.”

The 50th Anniversary celebration was held on October 13th at the Budokan Dojo’s training room inside the Japanese Language School

On October 13th, Budokan Dojo hosted its 50th anniversary party at the JCCCW dojo room. For the lunch reception, the room was filled with students, trainers, founders and their families and friends celebrating the dojo’s 50 years history. During the program which was emceed by president John Schaedler, founding members were honored with applause, the dojo’s new logo was unveiled by students and JCCCW president Lori Matsukawa made her greeting. Calvin Terada, who has succeeded the dojo’s operation from his father Alvin Terada, closed the party by acknowledging all the contributions by staffs and volunteers as well as supports by Seattle’s Japanese community.

For more information about Budokan Dojo, visit their website.

*This article is partially retrieved from Budokan Dojo’s article about its history

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Misa Murohashi is Editor-in-chief of The North American Post and general manager of North American Post Publishing Inc. Born and raised in Japan, she moved the Seattle area in 2005. She earned a master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Washington in 2016 and has been at the current position since 2017. She often writes about urban issues and Japanese American early immigration history in the Seattle Area.