TSUBOI Tatsuya

Bun Bu Ryodo” is a Japanese concept for doing well in both school and sports.?TSUBOI Tatsuya is often seen as the embodiment of that concept, as?a third-year student of the Faculty of Global Human Sciences and a figure skater who performs on the world stage. Even so, he demurs with a charming smile, saying modestly that he hasn’t fully mastered both yet.

Born in Aichi Prefecture, a powerhouse of figure skating, Tsuboi started going to the rink at around the age of three, inspired by his older sister who was taking skating lessons.?He began to stand out from his elementary school days and started participating in overseas competitions during his junior high school years. During his time at the Chukyo High School in Nagoya City, where ASADA Mao and other athletes also studied, he won the All Japan Junior Championship in his first year. After entering Kobe University, he won a bronze medal at the 2022 World Junior Championships and has been performing well in international competitions since turning senior that same year.

His attitude of “both studies and skating” has been consistent since before he entered university.?In high school, he chose the science stream with an eye on entering a national university.?Although he struggled with repeated ankle injuries in skating, he endured rigorous rehabilitation and returned to the rink. Despite the spread of COVID-19 making it difficult to even go outside towards the end of his second year of high school, he took it as an opportunity to rest his legs and focus on studying for the university entrance exams, which he successfully passed.

Improving with world-class athletes in Kobe

Tsuboi chose Kobe University because he wanted to study sports science. His interest in this field is deeply tied to his experience as an athlete. “I was interested in learning about the movements of athletes’ bodies, not just skaters. I think it’s important to understand things like muscle movements when developing training methods. That's why I chose to study science in high school. I felt that math and physics are essential to understanding human movements.”

Tsuboi training at the Hyogo Nishinomiya Ice Arena in Nishinomiya City

The city of Kobe was also a good choice for its skating practice environment. Currently, he uses the year-round “Hyogo Nishinomiya Ice Arena” (Nishinomiya City) in summer and the rinks on Kobe’s Port Island and Amagasaki City during the season. He trains under the same coach as SAKAMOTO Kaori, bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics, and MIHARA Mai, winner of the 2022 Grand Prix Final. He says that being around top athletes is reassuring and motivating.

It is now about two and a half years since Tsuboi entered university. Having developed an interest in classes on data science and biomechanics, in his third year it is now time to deepen his expertise in his chosen field, sports science. Despite his busy days, he is also a member of the university’s skating club outside of class. He often finds himself teaching beginners in the club, which has a positive impact on his own learning.

“I often get asked about my turns and jumps, and the way I use my edges, which is largely subconscious. Explaining these in words forces me to really think about what I’m doing, and it’s actually a pretty insightful learning experience.” Tsuboi explains that his integration of technique and theory has deepened through these experiences.

In his daily life, he sometimes has meals with friends from the skating club or from his faculty.?He says he “discovered how delicious ramen can be” at ramen shops popular with students around JR Rokkomichi Station. During the summer, he commutes to the rink in Nishinomiya from home by bicycle and also cooks for himself. “But I also go to the cafeteria a lot because it’s inexpensive and the food is pretty good,” he says with the air of an ordinary college student, different from his persona on ice.

The sports science specialization combines?academics and sports

Last year, Tsuboi signed an sponsorship contract with Sysmex Corporation (Chuo-ku, Kobe), a major manufacturer of medical testing equipment and reagents. The company has also signed a contract with SAKAMOTO Kaori and other athletes. “Sysmex covers the costs for our expeditions and practice sessions, which allows me to focus on training without any financial worries.”

Tsuboi during a practice session (courtesy of TSUBOI Tatsuya)

Tsuboi’s goal for the 2023-24 season is to make it onto the podium at the Grand Prix series. Beyond that, he aims to compete in the Winter Olympics to be held in Italy in 2026.?When asked what mindset is necessary to compete globally, he answered “a strong desire to achieve results and thorough preparation for competitions.” He always tries to balance his studies by taking his university classes in the spring semester of the year in order to avoid overlapping with the competition season.

Regarding his future career path, Tsuboi is considering pursuing research in graduate school. “Skating isn’t in my career plans, but I’m definitely looking for a job where I can apply my knowledge in sports science,” he says, looking towards the future.

His message to high school students aiming to study at Kobe University and his university juniors is, “Being admitted to college isn’t the end of the journey, it’s just the beginning. It’s important to have goals and aspirations even after you start college, and to spend each day with a ‘go-getter’ attitude, striving to achieve what you’ve set out to do.”

His motto is “Practice makes perfect.” “I tried to think of something more original to say, but I couldn’t come up with anything,” he says with a laugh. However, this credo embodies Tsuboi’s journey from childhood. He will continue to work hard to carve out a path fusing academics and sports, and to take on the world.


TSUBOI Tatsuya was born in 2002 in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. In April 2021, he entered the Faculty of Global Human Sciences, Kobe University. He won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in 2022. He turned senior in the 22-23 season and has been selected as a “strong” category team member by the Japan Skating Federation for the 23-24 season. He is known for his speedy skating and harmonious jumps. He is sponsored by?Sysmex Corporation and lives in Nishinomiya City.