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ENTERTAINER
People who create 2025

Takeshi Nishimoto

Editor of EKIDEN NEWS

Takeshi Nishimoto – Social media management of 200,000 followers which doesn’t go viral with a concept of “Front row spectators”

2024.05.27

His life has dramatically changed when he tore his muscle since his pursuit of “leading player of Hakone” without knowing it.
An ordinary Ekiden fan became to manage the “EKIDEN NEWS” with a total of 200,000 followers on his own.
He does on-the-scene coverage of national and international competitions regardless of the size and stands out as someone whom everyone looks up to including athletes.
How does he convey the appeal and fun of track and field and what does he see in current athletics world who is unique and different from the current media?

Otaku (Athletics geeks) from all over Japan gather together through SNS

―Please tell us the main activities and information that you offer of EKIDEN NEWS

Nishimoto Only athletes who either win a game or a medal will be reported by the existing media including the newspaper or television. But there are many athletes who achieve results who are not reported. For example, I think knowing that there is no media to report athletes who are in fifth place, but this is a position where this player has grown a lot, or no media to report the athlete achieving its personal best led everyone to start EKIDEN NEWS.

―You said “everyone”, but how many people manage “EKIDEN NEWS”?

Nishimoto Now I manage it all by myself. EKIDEN NEWS originally started because I became interested in Hakone Ekiden. Rather than just waiting to do nothing until the following Hakone Ekiden race, I started to read the novel “The Wind Blowing Strongly” and that’s how I knew about Nippon Sport Science University track meet and intercollegiate competition. When I tweeted on my own account at events, I found someone making a live commentary on Twitter (present X) the lap time of Kanto Intercollegiate Championships. Huge amount of lap time appeared on the timeline.

I was stunned to see a live commentary of lap time on Twitter.

―Wow, there was that kind of person?

Nishimoto Yes, that person was EKIDEN MANIA (X @ekiden_mania). He was an unidentifiable person but according to what people say, he was said to be an unemployed over 50. Even though he appears at various venues and tweets lap time, no one has seen him before. On the contrary, I thought it was interesting to see what is happening in front and Twitter linked and got hooked on in Twitter and chasing the Hakone Ekiden. When I was tweeting while watching the race, I was able to make exchanges through Twitter and watch the race together. That is how people in different ages and professions got together. At one event of the Hakone Ekiden, I called out saying “I booked a little spacious Japanese room at a hotel in Yokohama, so please come and join me after the race.” And so I prepared one case of beer, but to my surprise, 40 to 50 people gathered.

―Maybe one case of beer wasn’t enough?

Nishimoto That’s right. It became like a buffet party in the 4 and a half tatami room. That’s when EKIDEN MANIA expressed “I will go over there”! Then too many Otaku (Athletics geeks) who wanted to see the true identity of him gathered together. And EKIDEN MANIA was actually a 20 year old young man.

―So he was surprisingly quite a young fellow.

Nishimoto He was a runner until he was in University, and loved Hakone Ekiden that he began to follow it. I met EKIDEN MANIA every week from then. He checks the record of Junior High School students. He was a genius spectator who has fixed in his own mind how that kid turns into an Olympian. I began going to tournaments all over Japan with EKIDEN MANIA. In the meantime, many people began to gather around… Even Suguru Osako’s father was there.

―Wow, even Suguru Osako’s father! So many great members have gathered one after another.

Nishimoto Yes. Everyone was tweeting on their own accounts but it came up to post through a unified account rather than each account. That’s how the “EKIDEN NEWS” was created. Each of us had one’s field of expertise, so EKIDEN MANIA posted tweets and pictures, I posted live streaming, and Suguru Osako’s father created the website as he was a software engineer. But this kind of passion didn’t last long, so only EKIDEN MANIA and myself remained. And it was after the Men’s marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that EKIDEN MANIA disappeared from this world…

―What…, what do you mean?

Nishimoto I lost contact with him from that day. No one could contact him after tweeting sixth place of Suguru Osako. I have known him for more than 10 years, but the only relationship we had was through athletics, so I don’t know much else about him. I even didn’t know where he lived. I haven’t got in touch with him since then. I have heard that he had a baby so maybe he got busy with raising his child or maybe due to the coronavirus pandemic, he wasn’t able to do any activities as much as he wanted… So my major motivation is to continue EKIDEN NEWS so that EKIDEN MANIA can return anytime.

―For the moment, I suppose you would just want to confirm the safety of EKIDEN MANIA?

Nishimoto Yes. I used every possible means, but it didn’t work even if I used the Bunshun online to make an announcement which boasts 100 million page views.  But EKIDEN MANIA brought me here. He came alone to the World Cross Country Championships held in inland China, and appeared at the track meet of Tokai University on the next day, and also tweeted from the World Championships in Oregon where Suguru Osako participated. He couldn’t speak English at all, but he had the ability to take action. So I am not even close to him yet. If it wasn’t for him, I think I would just be an ordinary Ekiden fan watching in front of the television even now saying to myself “It was a great race again this year”.

Don’t promote on social media, that’s all.

―We hope EKIDEN MANIA will safely return…  Now I would like to turn to information that you share on EKIDEN NEWS. It seems like it covers all athletics and not limited to relay races and long distances. What standards do you use to share information?

Nishimoto We share information that we are interested at that moment. We are often interested about athletes and not events. Not just liking various genres but liking that person.This can be said not just for athletics but also the standard is “this person is interesting” when watching Rakugo.

The standard is the person  who had a fascination for at that time.
Nishimoto says he is good at finding a brilliant athlete.
*Courtesy of Takeshi Nishimoto

―How did you first become interested or become fond of that athlete?

Nishimoto When having the feeling that this athlete is a great one and  this person will sure to grow. I kind of understand a person who is likely to grow. I think this is my special ability and I kind of understand if “this person has an attractive aura” seeing various comedians when belonging to Yoshimoto Kogyou in the past. I feel something is wrong towards athletes with an attractive aura which means that the level of competition and having an attractive aura is different. It stopped my attention because it felt strange, and seeing that athlete several times, it became clear. It is like outputting that.

―I see. That is how you go after athletes. Is there anything else that you make an effort  for the management of EKIDEN NEWS?

Nishimoto It is to not make viral as much as possible.

―Not make viral? I would think that usually people want to go viral.

Nishimoto If I make it an aim to go viral,  I get caught in the numbers and lose sight of the essentials. If I get caught in the numbers I need to follow it, and the value becomes that it would become better if the numbers are high. I didn’t want that.  What’s more, if I go viral halfway, it will be consumed and exhausted soon. It is the skill that I learned when creating the contents for “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun (Almost Daily Itoi Newspaper)” by Shigesato Itoi before. It is important to stay motivated. We tend to be obsessed with successful experiences of going viral, and feel like tracing something similar. This is the dangerous part and we need to empty our hearts every day in order to grow, and most of all you get bored easily.

Not go viral on social media,
that is the policy of EKIDEN NEWS

―Feels like a proverb stuck towards all the web media representative. It is great that you have 110,000 followers in your X account even with the policy to not go viral.

Nishimoto I think of those things all the time.  I think the media often use the X account as an advertising media. But I think people don’t want to see advertisements. You skip through advertisements, but you advertise a lot when sharing information. I just don’t do that.

―So you share information that athletic fans will like to know without advertising.

Nishimoto Not exactly information but more like making all the contents of X account. The text should be contents and not just catchy ones. It is like a poster which has pictures, titles and a body copy. I am creating so that the contents could become like one complete poster for one post.

Progressing with “favorites”

―Please tell us about your personal side from here. How did you become interested in track and field?

Nishimoto I started jogging when I gained a little weight around 2008. I was planning to run in the Tokyo Marathon, and run in the Kinuta Park. Actually Kinuta Park is like a sacred place for the long distance world, and top Japanese athletes and students from Komazawa University who are Hakone Ekiden regulars are also running during early mornings and daytime when there are few people. One such day, as I felt I have got a good grasp for running, I tried to follow one of the runners from Komazawa University and sadly tore my muscle.

Recreating that moment when he pulled a muscle where “everything started”.

―I suppose your body could not keep up and gave a shriek.

Nishimoto They were really fast. On the following year, as it became an annual event to cheer the Hakone Ekiden runners along the road from my wife’s parents home in Hodogaya, I cheered the runners as well. Actually as I was born and raised in Fukuoka and graduated from Kyushu International University, I had no interest at all.  But Hodogaya is the second section and this section is often referred to as Leg 2 of Flowers and one Komazawa University runner passed by with great speed in front of me. That was the runner who made me tore my muscle.

―That is such a coincidence.

Nishimoto Yes, he was the ace of the team.  No wonder I tore my muscle. The name of the runner was Tsuyoshi Ugachi. That was beginning from when I thought “He is awesome. I want to see his race more “ and started to go to see the Kanto Inter University Track & Field Championships. Now I am chasing after him who is stepping up his competitive life by entering the Japan Championships and challenging marathon race. In short, it is like “supporting one’s fave”. I want to level up my life along with his.

―It is like the feeling of rising together while chasing one’s fave who is working one’s way up very slowly.

Nishimoto Yes, it is like working one’s way from the concert venue to Budokan. While I was chasing him, my perspective rose as his perspective rose. Also, Suguru Osako’s father was present when we started EKIDEN NEWS, so our stage became bigger as Suguru Osako grew bigger. We are working with everybody. As the athletes performance grew, our activities also grew as we went to see it.

Every time Tsuyoshi Ugachi and Suguru Osako progresses,
activities of Nishimoto and EKIDEN NEWS also expanded.

Planner, director, and a technician.

―That is how EKIDEN NEWS grew so much. On the contrary, you mentioned Yoshimoto Kogyou and Shigesato Itoi, we have heard that you also have an unique personal history. Could you tell us about it?

Nishimoto After entering Yoshimoto Kogyou, I was the manager of Sanma Akashiya and then I was the manager of Shinsuke Shimada. They both were two different types but my life became so much easier as I saw something amazing for the first time. No matter what you see, it’s normal compared to those two. Also, as I saw the critical point when deciding what to look at and how to judge through the first two, I somehow understood that I had to broaden my horizons to this extent. This led me to my present activities.

After serving as the manager for the leading figures,
“No matter what you see, it’s normal compared to those two”.

―If you serve as the manager for the two leading figures in the comedy world, Sanma and Shinsuke from a freshman, it will broaden your field of vision.

Nishimoto After serving as the manager for Londonboots 1 & 2 and first manager of cocorico, I moved to the commercial production department, and I was in charge of the “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun (Almost Daily Itoi Newspaper)”thanks to having connection with the project of Shigesato Itoi.  I started without any particular roles as they told me that “You will soon get busy”, but creating something from scratch was no longer a pain for me as I was doing many things including general affairs to human resources, launching a new business, event and television program production as the project grew. As I had to do everything by myself, I was a planner, producer and a technician. That style didn’t change even in EKIDEN NEWS.  It is like placing an order to yourself.  I can’t let myself down so I can’t put anything over on someone.

―That is something you need energy. Talking about creating something from scratch, you created the running race, “Otona.no.TimeTrial (OTT)” in 2013, which has become very popular now. Cross Country race (Kinu-Cro) was held at Kinuta Park last July.  Is there any new projects that you are planning with OTT?

Nishimoto I would like to hold running races all over Japan as there is usually a small park near  athletics field. If it is a small circuit course, you can cheer the runners several times as they pass right in front of you several times. I think it is really nice. Runners will feel more excited if they receive constant cheering rather than just run in a place where no one is around. Recently I went to a race in London, and there were three DJs in the track. It was very crowded just with the DJs. But I thought this could be possible. It would be nice to have several DJs, supporters, mothers’ chorus group all on the course within the park.

“OTT” popular with runners
Nishimoto is planning a new race.
*Courtesy of Takeshi Nishimoto

―It sure looks like it’s going to be a fun race.

Nishimoto If this is successful, I think we don’t have to invite celebrities to attract attention anymore. I call it the “Mothers’ chorus group theory”. If the mothers’ chorus group participates, the family and relatives will come even if they don’t know about athletics at all. If we invite music bands, many of their friends and fan will come. When people gather and have fun in that way, it would be an opportunity for advertisement and promotion.  I would like to create a model case like that.

Using Instagram to know the athletes and connect to the world

―Now please provide us your opinion about the World Athletics Championships.  What do you think is the meaning of having the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo?

Nishimoto It’s rare to find a country where marathons are so popular but track and field is not. Diamond league which is the pinnacle of athletic series will be held in Shanghai, Amoy and Doha this year in Asia but not in Japan. This is probably because track and field in the Japanese market is not considered attractive. I have been to World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City), but in all the other cities track and field has taken root but not Tokyo. I think WA (World Athletics) wants to firmly preserve the thriving market in Tokyo along with the track and field legacy that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could not leave without any spectators as it is the same field for marathon and other events. So it would be great if we could use the World Athletics Championships as an opportunity to create a lot of excitement in Tokyo.

Can Tokyo leave a legacy in 2025?
Nishimoto says it will be a turning point.
*Courtesy of Takeshi Nishimoto

―As you are good at finding talented athletes, do you have any athletes you are looking forward to or recommend?

Nishimoto I don’t know yet. Since it was decided to hold the 2025 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, the goal of athletes wasn’t just towards Paris 2024.  Now there are many athletes aiming to reach their peak in 2025.  The next generation of athletes like Nozomi Tanaka and Haruka Kitaguchi have started towards 2025. So new athletes may merge in the process of aiming for Paris or after the Paris Olympics. The results of the young generation currently working hard may not be able to reach Paris in time but they will definitely come out after this fall. I am looking forward to that.

―Talented athletes of the future generation will be shared hereafter in the EKIDEN NEWS.  That is something to look forward to.

Nishimoto What the fans can prepare towards the World Athletics Championships is to start Instagram. This is because Instagram can connect to the world.  You can only hear about the competition through the media, but if you follow various athletes on Instagram it will be fun to understand the personality of the athlete, like “This is the kind of person this athlete is.” You really can directly connect to the world with Instagram.

Buy the cheapest tickets and watch all the events

―As you have connected track and field with the fans through social media, what do you think of the current track and field world?

Nishimoto I think there are more people who want to “change”. Although track and field is said to be “old fashioned”, we can see that the track and field world is gradually changing as generations change. That is exciting to see. Tsuyoshi Ugachi who tore my muscle has become the director of Konica Minolta from this spring and those people has actually moved the track and field world. I feel it has gradually become to be an environment where it is easier to do something fun. TBS, Masato Yokota (TWOLAPS representative director) and myself have started a YouTube channel towards the World Athletics Championships. Given the current context, it becomes nothing more than an advertising for a program, so I wanted to make a solid content. We can only share information that a famous athlete ran just by writing “S☆1” but we started this YouTube channel to create a place where we can talk more about track and field.


New TV program which started on TBS Athletics Channel,
known as “Talk more about track and field”

―What do you want the track and field world to look like in the future?

Nishimoto I am just a guest so I just want to really enjoy as a guest. My concept is not an interviewer or journalist but to become ”front row guest”. Otherwise we cannot see the complete picture. I think it is important to pretend to have a camera and see something nice up close. The athletes can also find me with blonde hair and pose with me and give me comments before talking to other media.

―You have a great relationship with the athletes. Now, please tell us your future prospects of EKIDEN NEWS.

Nishimoto I think I will go and sell things. I have noticed that I didn’t think about monetization at all. It’s like I was doing it with my savings. The reason why this type of activity doesn’t continue is because monetization is difficult and if I don’t make money properly, there won’t be anyone who will follow me in the future. If something happens to me, then my account will be suspended. I am hoping to find someone who can help or any successors. To achieve this, we must be able to monetize properly. Or if someone like me comes along and dedicates their life to it, I can be just a guest again.

―Maybe someone will come out and say “I can do it!” after reading this interview.

Nishimoto Actually I would like someone to acquire EKIDEN NEWS for around 500 million yen.

The atmosphere is created because track and field fans gather from all over the world.
Please come and experience it at the venue.

―That is a dream story. Finally, please give a message to our readers who are looking forward to World Athletics Championships Tokyo 25!

Nishimoto Buy the cheapest ticket and please come and watch at the venue. Of course, you can enjoy from any seats, but I would like to recommend to “buy cheapest tickets and watch all the events”. That is the most interesting part. Compared to the Olympics, lots of enthusiasts and discerning otakus who love track and field gather from all over the world and create a wonderful atmosphere. It is like magic.  Actually what was the most exciting time at World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 was the Men’s shot put. You would usually think it would be the Men’s 100m but you can only experience it at the venue. I want you to share the atmosphere with people all over the world.

Takeshi Nishimoto / Born in Fukuoka
Editor of EKIDEN NEWS

Person in the center of X・Instagram account”EKIDEN NEWS”.  After Yoshimoto Kogyou and “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun(Almost Daily Itoi Newspaper)”, representative chairperson of general incorporated association OTT. Plan new race including “Otona no Time Trial”.
Enjoy marathons and track and field events from multiple angles by flying around the country and abroad, running,watching and planning races.

Instagram:ekiden_news
X:@EKIDEN_News
note:https://note.com/ekiden_news/

text by Atsuhiro Morinaga
photographs by Uta Mukuo

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