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10 Oldest Japanese Ninja Warrior (SASUKE) Contestants

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Japanese Ninja Warrior, which is called SASUKE in Japan became a culturally phenomenon not only in Japan, but around the world. The show first debuted in 1997 and has spawned several spin-offs as well as international versions in the United States, the UK, Indonesia, Germany, and Australia. Hundreds of people have competed over the years, and many contestants have made numerous appearances. Several of these contestants are in their 40s or beyond. While many of the competitors on this list are retired from Japanese Ninja Warrior, a few are still going strong.

10. Hidenori Nagasawa (November 17, 1965 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 45 years, 9 months, 5 days – SASUKE 27 (August 22, 2011)
Hometown:  Tokyo, Japan
Job: Mechanic
First Appearance: SASUKE 10 (September 25, 2002)
Total Number of Competitions: 10

photo source: Sasukepedia

Although Hidenori Nagasawa hasn’t competed on Japanese Ninja Warrior in nearly a decade, while he was on the show he was known for his dedication to the competition. Nagasawa trained really hard, but often failed to clear the First Stage. Additionally, his segments were cut from broadcasts a few times. Nagasawa only made it to the Second Stage once in his 10 appearances, but failed to advance.

Did You Know?

To train for Japanese Ninja Warrior, Hidenori Nagasawa built replicas of the game’s obstacles on his rooftop.


9. Naoki Iketani (December 1, 1973 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 45 years, 11 months, 23 days – SASUKE 37 (November 24, 2019)
Hometown:  Yodogawa, Osaka, Japan
Job: Samurai Orchestra Producer
First Appearance: SASUKE 2 (September 28, 1998)
Total Number of Competitions: 20

Naoki Iketaniphoto source: Sasukepedia

Naoki Iketani is one of the most consistent non-All-Star competitor on Japanese Ninja Warrior. Iketani first appeared in SASUKE 2 in 1998 and so far, has competed 20 times, including in the most recent competition in late 2019. Over the years, Iketani has done pretty well, often making it to the Third Stage. However, Iketani has yet to make it to the Final Stage, which is the reason why he isn’t an All-Star despite his strong performances.

Did You Know?

Naoki Iketani also competes on several Ninja Warrior spin-offs. Most notably, Pro Sportsman No. 1, which he won in 2005. Iketani also holds the record in the Monster Box event of Pro Sportsman with 23 boxes.


8. Bunpei Shiratori (September 13, 1967 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 46 years, 9 months, 20 days – SASUKE 30 (July 3, 2014)
Hometown:  Inba, Shiba Prefecture, Japan
Job: Health & Services Civil Employee
First Appearance: SASUKE 9 (March 16, 2002)
Total Number of Competitions: 12

photo source: Facebook

Along with Katsumi Yamada, Bunpei Shiratori is also a retired Japanese Ninja Warrior All-Star. Shiratori did not make his debut until SASUKE 9, but made a strong impression during his run. Throughout his time on the show, Shiratori often cleared the First Stage and made it to the Third Stage. Shiratori only made it to the Final Stage once during SASUKE 12. Although he officially retired after SASUKE 30 in 2014 because of his age and injuries, Shiratori said that he may return sometime in the future.

Did You Know?

Bunpei Shiratori holds the highest clear ratio for the First Stage out of the All-Stars, at an estimated 67% (8 out of 12 attempts).


7. Katushide Torisawa (c.1972 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 47 years – SASUKE 37 (November 24, 2019)
Hometown:  Unspecified
Job: Unspecified
First Appearance: SASUKE 18 (March 21, 2007)
Total Number of Competitions: 18

Katsuhide Torisawaphoto source: Sasukepedia

Katsuhide Torisawa has appeared in every Japanese Ninja Warrior since SASUKE 18. The most recent competition was in late 2019 when Torisawa was 47 years old. If he continues to participate in the show, Torisawa will end up moving up higher on this list. Torisawa can usually clear a few obstacles in the First Stage, but has become known for failing obstacles in funny ways. In fact, Torisawa has faceplanted a few times and fallen into the course’s water.

Did You Know?

Many competitors have some kind of gimmick that they show off at the starting line and Katsuhide Torisawa always likes to display his strength. Torisawa has done this by ripping off his shirt, crushing an apple and beer cans with one hand, and snapping a baseball bat in half.


6. Wakky aka Yasuhito Wakita (July 5, 1972 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 47 years, 4 months, 19 days – SASUKE 37 (November 24, 2019)
Hometown:  Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan
Job: Penalty Comedian
First Appearance: SASUKE 20 (March 26, 2008)
Total Number of Competitions: 9

Wakkyphoto source: asianwiki.com

Yasuhito Wakita better known as Wakky is another older comedian who has appeared on Japanese Ninja Warrior a few times. Surprisingly, Wakky has done fairly well and has cleared the First Stage a few times. Wakky competed in SASUKE 20 to 30 (except for SASUKE 26) before taking a five year break. He returned in the most recent competition in late 2019.

Did You Know?

In addition to regular Japanese Ninja Warrior, Wakky has competed on several spin-offs including Pro Sportsman No. 1 and Geinojin Sportsman No. 1 (an all celebrity version of Pro Sportsman), which Wakky won the last two competitions during the show’s run.


5. Akira Ōmori (September 19, 1968 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 51 years, 2 months, 5 days – SASUKE 37 (November 24, 2019)
Hometown:  Osaka, Japan
Job: Comedian
First Appearance: SASUKE 1 (September 27, 1997)
Total Number of Competitions: 10

Akira Omoriphoto source: asaikikaku.co.jp

Akira Ōmori is a comedian who is known for appearing on the early Japanese Ninja Warrior competitions. After competing on the first seven SASUKEs, Ōmori took a long hiatus from the show. Ōmori came back for SASUKE 23 and 24 and once again disappeared for a while. However, Ōmori returned in 2019 for SASUKE 37 and cleared the first few obstacles of the First Stage.

Did You Know?

Despite being a goofy guy with the nickname Monkikki or The Monkey, Akira Ōmori actually made it to the Final Stage in the first three Japanese Ninja Warrior Competitions, but could not clear the final obstacle.


4. Katsumi Yamada (October 22, 1965 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 51 years, 3 months, 21 days – SASUKE 33 (February 12, 2017)
Hometown:  Harima, Kako District, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
Job: Former steelworker
First Appearance: SASUKE 1 (September 27, 1997)
Total Number of Competitions: 28

Katsumi Yamadaphoto source: Facebook

Katsumi Yamada is one of Japanese Ninja Warrior’s legendary players who competed on the very first competition in 1997. Yamada made a name for himself early on by clearing the First Stage in the first six shows. However, after SASUKE 7, he failed to pass the first stage and briefly retired before trying again. Yamada did stop competing again for a few years before returning for almost every competition between SASUKE 7 – 33. He finally retired for good in 2017.

Yamada did make it to the Final Stage in SASUKE 3, but failed to win. Despite not winning, Yamada is one of the most popular contestants ever and is a Japanese Ninja Warrior All-Star.

Did You Know?

Katsumi Yamada is a little hot-tempered and even got banned from competing in Japanese Ninja Warrior for a few years, but was allowed back for SASUKE 33, the show’s 20th anniversary.


3. Yasuo Aoki (1957 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 54 years – SASUKE 27 (August 22, 2011)
Hometown:  Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Job: Sculptor
First Appearance: SASUKE 13 (April 6, 2004)
Total Number of Competitions: 14

Yasuo Aokiphoto source: Sasukepedia

Yasuo Aoki is another older man who has competed on Japanese Ninja Warrior more than a dozen times despite never doing really well. In fact, even though Aoki was on the contest 14 times, he never ever cleared the first obstacle! Aoki has had two of his runs (SASUKE 25 and 26) from broadcast. He finally retired from the competition after SASUKE 27 when he was about 54 years old.

Did You Know?

Although Yasuo Aoki never made it past the first obstacle in the regular Japanese Ninja Warrior competition, he did finally conquer the first obstacle of VIKING 2, a Ninja Warrior spin-off.


2. Kenjirō Ishimaru (November 1, 1953 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 61 years, 8 months – SASUKE 31 (July 1, 2015)
Hometown:  Ōita Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
Job: Actor and TV host/narrator
First Appearance: SASUKE 9 (March 16, 2002)
Total Number of Competitions: 16

Kenjiro Ishimaruphoto source: asianwiki.com

Kenjirō Ishimaru is one of many Japanese actors to compete on Japanese Ninja Warrior several times, taking the competition fairly seriously while still having fun. Ishimaru has been on the show 16 different times, most recently in 2015 when he was 61 years old. Typically, Ishimaru has not done that well on Japanese Ninja Warrior, but he did almost clear the First Stage twice, only losing on the final obstacle the Rope Climb.

Did You Know?

Kenjirō Ihshimaru is only one of two competitors who has taken the log down with them as they’ve fallen off the Rolling Log obstacle in Japanese Ninja Warrior’s First Stage.


1. Minoru Kuramochi (November 16, 1947 – Present)

Age at Most Recent or Last Competition: 64 years, 11 months – SASUKE 28 (October 2012)
Hometown:  Tokyo, Japan
Job: Edokko Pub Owner
First Appearance: SASUKE 9 (March 16, 2002)
Total Number of Competitions: 18

photo source: Facebook

Minoru Kuramochi last appeared on SASUKE 28 in 2012 when he was nearly 65 years old, which makes him the oldest contestant ever on Japanese Ninja Warrior. Although Kuramochi made a total of 18 appearances on Japanese Ninja Warrior, he usually failed on the first obstacle. The best that he ever did was making it to the third obstacle during SASUKE 26, which was recorded back in late 2010. While not a winner, Kuramochi is one of the game’s most popular contestants because of his eccentric energy.

Did You Know?

Minoru Kuramochi is nicknamed Tako Tencho (Mr. Octopus) because he always brought an octopus with him onto the starting line as a nod to the fact that he owns a pub that serves octopus.

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