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Kōkichi Tsuburaya

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Title: Kōkichi Tsuburaya  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Athletics at the 1964 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon, 1940 in Japan, 1968 in Japan, People from Fukushima Prefecture, Abebe Bikila
Collection: 1940 Births, 1968 Deaths, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1964 Summer Olympics, Athletes Who Committed Suicide, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Personnel, Japanese Long-Distance Runners, Japanese Military Personnel, Japanese Military Personnel Who Committed Suicide, Olympic Athletes of Japan, Olympic Bronze Medalists for Japan, Olympic Medalists in Athletics (Track and Field), People from Fukushima Prefecture, Suicides by Sharp Instrument in Japan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kōkichi Tsuburaya

Kōkichi Tsuburaya
Kōkichi Tsuburaya at the 1964 Olympics
Personal information
Nationality Japanese
Born (1940-05-13)May 13, 1940[1]
Sukagawa, Fukushima
Died January 9, 1968(1968-01-09) (aged 27)
Unspecified, Japan
Height 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
Weight 54 kg (119 lb)
Sport Long-distance running
Event(s) 10,000 meters, marathon
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 10,000 meters: 28:52.6[2]
Marathon: 2:16:23[2]

Kōkichi Tsuburaya (円谷 幸吉 Tsuburaya Kōkichi) (born Kokichi Tsumuraya (円谷 幸吉 Tsumuraya Kōkichi); May 13, 1940 – January 9, 1968) was a Japanese athlete who competed mainly as a marathoner. Kokichi was also a 1st lieutenant in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Running career

Tsuburaya competed at the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan and finished sixth in the 10,000 m event. He was in the lead of the marathon race, but was overtaken within the final 100 meters by Basil Heatley and finished third. Tsuburaya was mortified by the loss to Heatley, saying to fellow marathoner Kenji Kimihara, "I committed an inexcusable blunder in front of the Japanese people. I have to make amends by running and hoisting the Hinomaru in the next Olympics, in Mexico".[3]

Shortly after the Tokyo Olympics, Kokichi suffered from an ongoing back problem, known as lumbago. On January 9, 1968, he committed suicide by slashing his wrist in his dormitory room where he had stayed during his training period for the Mexico City Olympics.[4]

In his suicide note, he paid thanks to his parents, siblings and trainers for their contributions, urged his fellow runners to do well, and ended the note (please note this is informal translation): "I am too exhausted to run any more. Please forgive me. I'm sorry for causing my parents concern and worry, but this is for the best. Thank you very much for everything you have done for me."[5] He was twenty-seven years old.


  1. ^ Kokichi Tsuburaya.
  2. ^ a b All-Athletics. "Profile of Kokichi Tsuburaya". 
  3. ^ Whiting, Robert, "Schollander, Hayes were spectacular at Tokyo Games", The Japan Times, 18 October 2014, p. 13
  4. ^ Larimer, Tim (October 2, 2000). "The Agony of Defeat". TIME Asia. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "Tsuburaya's suicide note" (in Japanese). January 9, 1968. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
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