translated by Brett Larner
On Oct. 17 at the 92nd Hakone Ekiden qualifier 20 km road race in Tachikawa, Tokyo, Tokyo Kokusai University finished 9th to make Hakone for the first time in its short five-year existence. On Oct. 18th head coach Shuji Oshida, 53, revealed that the color of the team's first-ever tasuki [sash] will be Deep Blue, a term also meaning konjo, symbolizing pure guts and spirit. Like the fearless Dokonjo Gaeru [Big Guts Frog] anime character, these Dokonjo Runners will target making the seeded top ten in their Hakone debut.
The morning after achieving its historic accomplishment of making the sport's biggest stage in their school's 50th anniversary year, the runners gathered to make even bigger plans. Meeting at 10 a.m. at the team's training facility in Sakado, Saitama, they listened as coach Osuda told them with conviction and a grin, "We're the 19th-ranked team, but we have a chance to make the seeded bracket. Your New Year's journey to Hakone is yet to come."
The team's tasuki, the heart and soul of the ekiden, is already ready. Immediately after the team secured its qualification, Tokyo Kokusai University president Nobuyasu Kurata presented them with a blue tasuki. "This color shall be known as Deep Blue, a term also meaning courage and spirit," he told them, his face profoundly serious.
Aoyama Gakuin University Fresh Green, Komazawa University Wisteria, Toyo University Iron Blue, Waseda University Scarlet. Each of the powerhouse schools' tasuki color is synonymous with its name. Deep Blue is also known as Prussian Blue, the name associated with Yamanashi Gakuin University. In its fifth year as a program this ascendant team is ready to take its first step to carve a place in Hakone history for Tokyo Kokusai University Deep Blue.