Hyozo Omori

Hyozo Omori (大森 兵蔵, Ōmori Hyōzō, March 14, 1876 – January 3, 1913) was a Japanese physical education specialist who studied in America and married the American artist Annie Barrows Shepley. In Japan, they established Yurin En (友隣園; House of the Friendly Neighbor), which was a settlement house and leader in the Japanese playground movement. Omori introduced basketball and volleyball to the country and was the team manager at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in Sweden.

Hyozo Omori
Hyozo Omori 1907.png
in 1907
BornMarch 14, 1876
DiedJanuary 3, 1913
Spouse(s)Annie Shepley Omori


Hyozo Omori was in the 1905 class of Stanford University[1] and then continued his studies in Springfield, Massachusetts as a YMCA exchange student.[2] He graduated from YMCA's College in Springfield[3] with honors in 1907.[4]

Marriage and careerEdit

In October 1907, Omori married artist Annie Barrows Shepley.[5] In 1908, when he had returned to Japan, he introduced volleyball and basketball to the country[2][3] and became known as the "Father of Japanese Basketball".[6] In Tokyo, the Omoris established a settlement house, Yurin En (House of the Friendly Neighbor) which offered dramatic classes and a playground for children. It also offered courses in sewing, flower arranging, cooking, and crafts as well as mother's meetings and opportunities for people to speak English.[7][8] Initially, they met resistance because of their co-educational programs, the fact that the Omoris were Christian, and that they broke down well-establish class barriers.[7] The Yurin En was at the forefront of the Japanese playground movement.[3][9]

In 1909, Omori was the Physical Director for the Japanese Association. That year, he wrote "A Brief Survey of the Present Conditions of Physical Education in Japan" for Hygiene and Physical Education.[10]

Hyozo Omori was a physical education specialist and team manager for the Japanese team that competed in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in Sweden. Yahiko Mishima from Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo) ran short distances and Shizo Kanakuri, a 20-year-old Tokyo Higher Normal School student ran the marathon. Judo master Kanō Jigorō was the leader of the team. It was the first time that Japanese runners competed in the Olympics. Omori became quite ill when the group arrived in Stockholm following the Trans-Siberian Railway trip.[6]

Hyozo Omori died in 1913, and Annie continued running Yurin En after his death.[7][9]


  1. ^ The Stanford Quad. Associated Students of Stanford University. 1903. p. 197.
  2. ^ a b "Basketball". Japanese American National Museum. Retrieved March 7, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Japan at the Olympic Games". Japan Times. April 3, 1913. p. 6. Retrieved March 7, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ American Gymnasia and Athletic Record: A Journal of Rational Physical Training. American Gymnasia Company. 1906. p. 247.
  5. ^ "Author:Annie Shepley Omori". WikiSource. Retrieved March 7, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Edan Corkill (July 15, 2012). "Better late than never for Japan's first, "slowest" Olympian: This year's Olympic marathon runners won't even get close to a Japanese athlete's record". Japan Times. Retrieved March 7, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c David Starr Jordan (1922). The Days of a Man: Being Memories of a Naturalist, Teacher, and Minor Prophet of Democracy. World Book Company. pp. 353–354.
  8. ^ "The Japanese Neighbor". The Survey: Social, Charitable, Civic : a Journal of Constructive Philanthropy. Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. 1919. p. 278.
  9. ^ a b Recreation. National Recreation Association. 1917. p. 228.
  10. ^ Hyozo Omori (1909). "A Brief Survey of the Present Conditions of Physical Education in Japan". Hygiene and Physical Education. F.A. Bassette Company. pp. 301, 731–734.