As an anime, Hajime no Ippo has been on the air on a sporadic basis since the year 2000. However, its original manga by Morikawa Jyoji has been in publication in Shounen Magazine since September of 1989 and as of June 2016, is presently over 110 volumes and still going strong!
For many fans of the series, some wish to try some of the training methods Ippo has done such as the leaf catching jab, or ducking under the playground bars to train one’s dashing and ducking. But what if Honey could tell you that you could train in a boxing gym in Japan owned by Morikawa-sensei himself? So if you think you have what it takes to learn the sweet science, get ready for a few rounds in today’s Anime Hot Spots, JB Sports gym.
|Location:|| JB Sports|
Address: 3-11-19 Umejima Adachi-ku Tokyo-to
Tobu Isezaki Line Nishiarai Station 7 min walk from the East Exit
|Cost of Admission:|
General admission (adult and non-member): 500 yen for a day of simple training
Registration fees: 15000 yen (for men 16 and up), 10000 yen (for women 16 and up, children 16 and under for free practice), 5000 yen (for children 16 and under for the junior boxing class), 10000 yen (for junior high female students who join the junior boxing class)
Monthly Membership fee for men (16 years of age and up): 12000 yen for all hours and everyday training, 10000 yen for weekdays during all operating hours (cannot train on weekends), 6,500 yen for weekdays between 2pm and 5pm
Monthly Membership fee for women (16 years of age and up): 5000 yen for all operating days and hours, 3000 yen for night time use
Senior (65 and up): 8000 yen for all operating business hours
|Hours of Operation|
Closed during New Year's holidays, Obon holidays (usually around August), and whenever a fighter has a match
JB Sports is pretty much five times the size of the average combat sports gyms in Japan. Most gyms in Japan tend to be very cramped. Try to imagine something half the size of your local fast food joint and that is the average size of most Japanese gyms. If you have been to any of the high-end facility combat sports gyms in either California and/or the Las Vegas area, JB Sports almost meets those standards (JB Sports just tends to be smaller than what you see on the west coast). While most gyms are just simply one story, JB Sports is two stories with a unique roof that we will get into later.
The first floor is the entrance, the men’s locker room, and reception. It has a full-size boxing ring that is up to the size used in Kourakuen Hall (the arena where most of the fights in the series take place). This is probably one of the few gyms in Japan to have a ring that is full sized! Most other gyms will have a ring that’s comparable to a queen size bed. Sometimes even in the US, you’d be lucky to have a gym that has a full-size ring. So if in the chance you show up, a trainer will probably work on the mitts with a fighter, or if you’re lucky, you may have the chance to see a spar between either trainee, prospect amateurs, club level fighters, or local contenders.
In addition to the ring, the area has a few heavy bags (maybe around 200 pounds!!) as well as the appropriate gloves for sparring, pads, and heavy bags, and some other necessary headgear and mitts. So if you did not bring your own gear, feel free to use the gyms. Be sure to clean it up after you finish and put them back properly. Near the reception, is also a list of the staff. The trainer we spoke to on our visit was Kubota and he gave us a great tour of the place.
The second floor is a hardwood floored area containing numerous heavy bags to hit (be sure to wrap your hands and wear gloves when hitting the bags!), speed bags to practice your hand-eye coordination, and double end balls to help practice your full body coordination. It is pretty spacious so you can also use the area to openly shadow box in front of a mirror to work on your form.
The area also contains other generic exercise equipment such as weights, exercise bikes, sit up benches, and other workout equipment. You are also free to do a few rounds of jumping rope to get a great warm up! It also has the women’s locker room, a shower room, a break room to watch some boxing DVDs and/or videos, and a bookshelf of Hajime no Ippo mangas (also contains other boxing titles such as Ashita no Joe and Ganbare Genki)!!!
Last, the roof plays homage to series in its own unique way. Remember when Takamura wins the title the first time and gets a statue of himself made and puts it on the roof? Well, a real life Takamura statue based on the statue from the series rests on top of the roof of the gym! Though the website disclaims you cannot go to the roof, asking the staff for permission to see the statue up close while under their close supervision, seemed to be OK!
Just like any other gym, you have to sign a waiver (all in Japanese) that the gym is not responsible for any injury that happens. The guy also asks if you have any experience in boxing or any other combat sports. Though the gym does provide some gear for free use, there are some things you should either bring on your own or you can buy at the gym. If you need hand wraps, you can buy them for 1,000 yen. If you want to buy your own boxing gloves in Japan, the Winning brand can cost up to 20,000 yen for 16 oz!!! Also, bringing your own separate shoes and towel is a must! Wear shoes that can be light on your feet!
If you have any background in boxing, you are free to do your own work out the way you feel fit. If not, the trainer or a more experienced trainee is willing to help you get into the rhythm of things. If you wish to shadowbox in the ring, please remember to ask the trainer for permission first. Some other trainees may have asked to use it for sparring or for mitt practice. The trainers give pointers while in the ring to help you out with your form, stance, jolts, hooks, and jabs.
But we must disclaim, for any of you considering any exercise at this place, please consult with a physician prior to boxing. Of course, you are not obligated to spar or anything like that.
At the reception, you can also buy Hajime no Ippo related merchandise. Want a mini-statue of Takamura? Want some Hajime no Ippo t-shirts or even Ippo’s trunks? You can buy them at the reception! However, they can be more expensive than average ranging from 3,000 – 8,000 yen. Plus, most t-shirt sizes are small and medium so it can be difficult to find something if you’re bigger than that. It even has some drawings from Morikawa-sensei’s original manga as well. Though none of the present staff can speak English, they do their best to be accommodating and friendly. Maybe upon your visit, there will also be other trainees who can speak English.
As for the possibility of meeting Morikawa-sensei, Kubota-san, the trainer who guided us around told us that he doesn’t come that often due to being busy with his commitments to Hajime no Ippo but he shared with us a few tips. He said Morikawa-sensei told him that when he first created the manga, he already had the ending planned and Morikawa-sensei already told him the ending to the manga (which probably won't be for a long while)! Naturally, he is sworn to secrecy. He told in addition to boxers, occasionally other MMA fighters come train at JB Sports to work on their hands such as former UFC middleweight contender Yushin Okami and Yoshihiro Akiyama, a former judo Olympian. So for some of you who visit, depending on your timing, you may have these chances to meet your favorite athlete.
Though the gym has yet to produce a world champion, the closest it has was with Manabu Fukushima between the 1990s and 2000s. Despite winning both the national and regional levels, he was unable to achieve a title. He was scheduled to fight for a world title on two occasions but in one instance, he got injured and in another, the champion got injured. Maybe someday JB Sports can have that chance.
The gym is isolated from other major areas but either on the way back or on the way near the station, there is a supermarket to pick up some healthy food and drinks for your work out.
For fans of Hajime no Ippo, this is a must visit! If you want to experience the true Kamogawa Gym, this is it! Plus, depending on what day and time you show up, you may be able to meet some rising prospects whether it would be in boxing and/or MMA. Regardless of a language barrier, I am positive that the staff will do their best to accommodate you. So if you think you can master the Dempsey Roll, take on a bear, or become the next superstar, JB Sports may get you on that path to glory.