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Whistler's Hiroaki Yano wins University of Washington Kendo Invitational

The Whistler Kendo Club founder also helped Renbu Dojo snatch the team title
Whistler's Hiroaki Yano (far right) with his Renbu Dojo teammates at the 2024 University of Washington Kendo Invitational.

Earlier this spring, Whistlerite Hiroaki Yano linked up with Renbu Dojo to claim victory at the University of Washington's 46th Annual Invitational Tournament. 

It wasn’t easy. 

Yano and his teenage teammates were in deep against a field brimming with talent, including numerous members of the Canadian national roster. Nonetheless, Yano won all four of his matches to earn the individual title, while his fellows (composed of Ryunosuke Himeda, Clark Liao, Kenta Yoshimura and Hugo Homma) united to overcome the Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation (PNKF) junior squad. 

Yano’s semifinal against Rogerio Asato, one of Team Canada’s assistant captains, went to extra time where Yano eventually broke the 1-1 scoring deadlock. That led him to the final against Canadian captain Kunhee Kim, who promptly breached his defences in the first three seconds of the match. 

“Since there was still plenty of time, I focused on creating opportunities in my preferred style without rushing,” recalled Yano. “After successfully retrieving a point, I regained my focus and was pleased to take the initiative and secure the win in a situation that played to my strengths.” 

Whistler Kendo Club’s frontman also had high praise for the young guns he entered battle alongside. 

“[My teammates] undergo rigorous training sessions about three to four times a week,” said Yano. “Additionally—both last year and this year—they traveled to Japan for weeks to train at a higher level and hone their skills. Despite their young age, they understand various techniques and the individual roles within the team allowing them to perform effectively in matches. 

“Their growing strength and the results they've achieved have boosted their confidence, enabling them to face Team Canada and any other opponents without hesitation.” 

Support network

Although the Sea to Sky’s own kendo community has been growing, it remains relatively nascent at the moment. That’s why high-level practitioners like Yano look elsewhere for the opportunity to compete. 

“Having competitions motivates me to practice harder,” he explained. “Matches provide an opportunity to showcase the results of our daily training. By participating in these competitions, we can try out new techniques and experience high-pressure situations, which I believe helps to strengthen us mentally.” 

Renbu Dojo presents an excellent option for athletes throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond. Home to many national-calibre kendōka, its comprehensive training program can be tailored to beginners and intermediates as well. In September 2023, Yano was part of the Renbu roster that won gold at the National Championships in Markham, Ont. 

Even so, Whistler is home base for Yano and his fellow Sea to Sky denizens are never far from his heart. 

“I am grateful to the people who practice with me regularly,” he said. “I am also deeply thankful for the support of not only my kendo club members who provided transportation, meals, accommodation…but also my coworkers, friends and the whole Whistler community who encouraged me. This victory is a result of their support, and I really appreciate it.” 

Learn more about the Whistler Kendo Club at