To the age old question of whether it is better to be feared or loved, Japanese Assistant Climbing Coach Takako Hoshi has a clear opinion: Hoshi is kind, patient and observing. At about 5 feet tall, she always smiling with round cheeks and eyes that give off a knowing translucent shine. The thing about Hoshi is that she doesn’t force you to be anything but yourself. Other coaches make you fit the mold; Hoshi brings the best out in you so that the mold fits you.
Takako Hoshi has been a key component to the success of the Japanese National Climbing Team, a team that has been the overall winning team for the past six years.
In her past life, Hoshi spent 17 years abroad, mostly in China and Singapore, climbing and finding ways to be involved in the community. In 2008, she established a climbing gym in Beijing, O’le Climbing—the very first gym in China to have routes, grades and proper safety measures. Still, she wasn’t satisfied—Hoshi wanted something more hands-on.
She got her chance in 2009, when she was asked to help coach the Japanese National team in the Qinghai World Championship. Hoshi was over the moon. Though the position was unpaid, following that event she committed to helping the team in all Asian competitions.
“They’re my heroes at my heart,” she said of the Japanese athletes. “Everything they put for the competitions emotionally, physically and mentally just moves me all the time.”
In 2016, Sport Climbing was officially included in the 2020 Olympics and National Climbing Federations starting taking the sport more seriously. After eight years, Hoshi’s position as Assistant Coach finally became official, salary and all. She moved back to Japan to begin her work with the athletes full time.
“It’s a dream job. We have a lot of laughs and good stories,” she said. Hoshi helps the team plan travel and coordinate with media, and ensures athletes are comfortable, regardless of where they are in the world.
“Japan is quite small, but actually quite complicated logistically.” she said. “So some of the climbers are full time students. Some of them are full time workers. And believe it or not, we have only a few athletes who are fully devoted to the World Cup circuit. So everybody has a different status of life and everybody trains in different ways and places.” It wasn’t until 2017 that the Japanese team began to attend periodic training camps together.
Aside from doing the organizational legwork, Hoshi’s most important role is helping the athletes mentally. “I observe and see which individuals are in good flow or look off. If something is missing, then I try to subtly check and alleviate unnecessary stress.”
She credits her ability to help athletes to her own experience of having to adapt in strange situations. “I’m not a technical coach or good climber,” she added, humbly. “They are simply hard working athletes. They are doing what they love to do.”
Just last year, Hoshi was the only coach to attend all 20 IFSC competitions, and she’s already applied to attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In regard to her powers to help the team, it seems more than anything else, she knows how to show up and be a good listener.
At the end of our interview her final advice was, “Just be yourself. You already have everything you need.”
Feature Image by Eddie Fowke/TheCircuitClimbing
Also Enjoy Hoshi’s 2018 interview with IFSC.
Japanese coach Takako Hoshi gives us an insight into why their #IFSCwc climbers have been so succesful recently. Be warned – it sounds like they are going to get even better in the future!
Posted by International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) on Saturday, May 6, 2017