Makoto Nagano (長野 誠 Nagano Makoto, born March 30, 1972 in Kitakata, Miyazaki) (sometimes known as the World's Strongest Fisherman) is a commercial fisherman and the captain of his vessel, F/V Konpira Maru 50 (第50金比羅丸) (He used to be captain of the F/V Konpira Maru 28 (第28金比羅丸)) and musician. He is regularly seen on the Japanese television show Sasuke (Ninja Warrior) where he was one of the "SASUKE All-Stars," a group of favored competitors who were thought to possess the greatest potential in completing the four grueling obstacle courses of Ninja Warrior. He can also be seen on the lesser known precursor to Ninja Warrior, Viking: The Ultimate obstacle course, where he was the only competitor to make it to the final round.
Winning in the 17th competition (2006) he is the second of only four victors of the competition, the others being Kazuhiko Akiyama in the 4th competition (1999), Yuuji Urushihara in the 24th (2010) and 27th (2011) competitions, and Yusuke Morimoto in the 31st competition (2015).
Leading up to the 32nd competition in 2016, Nagano formally announced his retirement from Sasuke, with his "last run" making up a significant portion of the broadcast and promotional material for the tournament. This involved several gifts from fans and fellow competitors alike, including a "finish" button normally found at the end of the courses. Additionally, a special retirement ceremony was held following his run, concluding with his friends and fellow competitors throwing him into a water pit, mirroring his total victory celebrations in Sasuke 17.
Nagano spends 300 days a year training on his fishing ship for the Sasuke competitions.
Nagano is known for his consistency in the competition. In his first 2 tournaments (7th and 8th competition), Nagano failed the Warped Wall. Then, in the 9th competition, he made an impact by reaching the Pipe Slider, further than any other competitor in that tournament had reached, only to fail the final jump off the pipe. He failed the Jump Hang on the first stage on the 10th tournament, but reached the Final Stage in the next three competitions (the 11th, 12th, and 13th competitions), but failed each time. Of the three, the closest he came to winning the competition was in the Fall 2003 competition (competition 12), missing the red button by 0.11 (1/9) seconds. Since the 7th competition, he has failed the 1st stage ten times out of 24 appearances, the most recent being the 31st Tournament. He has only failed the 2nd Stage three times (15th, 20th, and 30th tournaments). He also holds the record for the most attempts in the Final Stage at five.
Nagano failed to make it four Final Stage attempts in a row, when he failed the new Jumping Bars in the 14th competition. Then, in the next competition, he suffered his first Second Stage defeat when he failed the Metal Spin, an obstacle he easily cleared in the previous tournament.
Perhaps the strangest failure that Nagano suffered was in the 16th competition in December 2005. Nagano once again had made his way towards the end of the 3rd Stage. Nagano took his time and rested on the green pipe directly before the Devil's Swing obstacle that led to the Pipe Slider. Instead of trying to generate momentum from an idle position on the trapeze-like Devil's Swing, Nagano instead hung from the green bar, grasped the Devil's Swing with one arm, and held onto the green pipe with the other. He then swung back and forth, eliminating most of the effort needed to get to the Pipe Slider. However, one of the chains on the Devil's Swing got caught on the green pipe. Nagano eventually got himself free, and even grasped the Pipe Slider with one hand, but he couldn't hold on. When he let go, the orange pipe slid a short ways down the track. With no choice but to generate as much momentum as he could, Nagano fell short of the pipe on his jump and plunged into the water.
In the next competition, Nagano reached the Devil's Swing again. Avoiding the same mistake he made in the previous tournament, Nagano easily beat the obstacle and the Pipe Slider, and completed stage 3. He then became only the second person to attain total victory, completing the final stage with 2.56 seconds to spare.
His accomplishment paved the way for the completely redone Sasuke course, which was unveiled at the Spring 2007 competition. During the 18th meeting, Nagano made it all the way to the 3rd Stage, but was disqualified when he attempted the new Cliff Hanger. The fourth rendition of the Cliff Hanger has the second bar inclined upwards and shortened, making the gap between the second and third bars a jumping distance, rather than an arm's reach. While Nagano cleared the jump, his hand touched the frame of the Cliff Hanger and he was disqualified. He stopped after he got off the Cliff Hanger and announced his mistake himself.
The 19th competition was the scene of his most shocking defeat to date. He showed some impressive speed on the first few obstacles until he reached one of the newest obstacles, The Flying Chute (which he cleared easily in the 18th competition): an obstacle in which one must sit and go down a large slide and at the right time, jump off the slide to grab on to a distant rope. Nagano slipped and just grazed the rope with his hands, instead of grabbing the rope from under his arms, which is the technique needed to successfully grab the rope. He then lost his grip and forcefully fell backwards into the water, shocking the entire audience and the announcers, as well as his fellow All-Stars. It was his first defeat by the first stage since 2002/SASUKE 10.
In the 20th anniversary competition Nagano breezed through the first stage defeating the flying chute that took him out last time and cleared the first stage. However on the first obstacle of the Second Stage the Downhill Jump he was off balance from the start and couldn't hold onto the rope.
In the 21st tournament he cleared the first two stages with ease. He then managed to beat the Cliff Hanger that he was disqualified on in the 18th tournament. He then beat the new Hang Climbing and Spider Flip. However on the last obstacle the Gliding Ring, a design error prevented the ring from easily gliding down the track as it was supposed to. Nagano had to force it down the track, and fell into the water upon reaching the end of the track.
In the 22nd competition Nagano completed the first six obstacles with ease but when he tried the new obstacle, the Slider Jump he couldn't hold onto the net and fell into the water.
The 23rd competition was a controversial one for Nagano. He again cleared the first 6 obstacles with ease but when he got to the Slider Jump he let go too early and couldn't reach the net. However it was found out that one of ropes, that are used to reset the bar after each attempt, got caught in the frame of the obstacle. Nagano was then given a second Stage One attempt after a 43-minute break. He cleared the first stage with ease. He would also go on to clear Stage 2. In Stage 3, he got his revenge against the Gliding Ring, completing it and making it to his fifth final stage. It was also the first time he reached the Final Stage since his victory in the 17th competition. In the Final Stage the time limit was reduced from 45 seconds to 40. Nagano made it near the top of the tower but timed out inches from the buzzer. If the time limit had stayed at 45 seconds he would have become the first two-time champion.
Due to his near miss in the previous tournament many people expected him to clear all four stages in the 24th tournament. He cleared the first 3 obstacles with ease. But on the Jumping Spider he made the jump but at the end of the Spider Walk section he was too low and slipped into the mud pit below. It was the earliest he had ever failed (along with the Jump Hang in SASUKE 10). In his interview after his run he said he wanted to clear the first half of the stage quickly so he could have a lot of time for the end of the stage which made strong competitors such as Shingo Yamamoto and Hitoshi Kanno time out.
In the 25th competition, Nagano was once again moving along quickly through the first stage, but then failed on the Circle Slider, which he had successfully cleared in the 17th competition, although it was much higher for him to reach this time.
26 and after
The 26th competition was Nagano's third consecutive first stage failure, he moved through the new first three obstacles but failed the Jumping Spider again on the jump.
In Sasuke 27 Nagano competed under number 100 for the first time since Yuuji Urushihara's Kanzenseiha. During Stage 1, he showed incredible prowess by being the only All-Star to clear the first stage. On the second stage Nagano is shown to have lost time on the Double Salmon Ladder but managed to clear the second stage with 1 second left. In Stage 3, Nagano passed the first few obstacles with ease before reaching the Ultimate Cliff-Hanger he showed and he proved he was a true competitor by making it to 4th ledge with skill and grace. However, during his jump onto the 5th small ledge, he lost his balance and fell into the water.
Ninja Warrior was renamed Sasuke Rising in 2012, then changed back to numbers shortly after the 28th Competition. It was announced once that the All-Stars would retire after Sasuke 28, possibly due to age and most considering retirement if not already retired. However, the All-Stars stated that they wanted to come back and continue to compete, and TBS decided to let the All-Stars continue to compete, mainly due to ratings taking a hard hit after their stage 1 runs. Nagano wore #100 like he usually does, and competed at age 40. After seeing the other All-Stars fail Stage 1, Nagano was expected to clear stage 1. He did well, completing the 1st 4 obstacles, and even scaling the 1st Warped Wall with great speed. However, the 2nd Warped Wall was slightly too high for Nagano, and despite a valiant effort and almost 50 seconds left on the clock, he ran out of time there for the 1st time since Sasuke 8. This is a pattern for the All-Stars, as the 1st run for an All-Star in their 40's usually results in a time out on stage 1 (Katsumi Yamada timed out on the Rope Climb in Sasuke 16, Bunpei Shiratori timed out on the Flying Chute in Sasuke 19, and Makoto Nagano timed out on the 2nd Warped Wall in Sasuke Rising, all at age 40). He also competed in Sasuke 29, at age 41, wearing #100 for the 14th time. In that tournament, he injured his right hamstring on the Long Jump, but again, made it all the way to the 2nd Warped Wall, but by then, the pain in his hamstring became unbearable, causing him to time out there, again. However, in Sasuke 30, Nagano made a valiant comeback, and cleared the First Stage with 12.89 seconds left, and was the oldest that tournament to clear, at age 42. However, in the Second Stage, he was disqualified on the Swap Salmon Ladder when he failed to properly stick the 4th set of rungs, marking only his third fail on the Second Stage. In Sasuke 31 he failed once again on Warped Wall because he lost too much stamina on Tackle Machine.
After that he said that this competition is probably the last for him, however Tokyo Broadcasting confirmed that he was competing in Sasuke 32 with the #100 spot. During Sasuke 32, Nagano ultimately delivered a strong run, until he stumbled once at the Soritatsu Kabe. After clearing it on his second try, Nagano was running low on time. He reached the top of the Lumberjack Climb with one second left, but could not reach the buzzer in time.
Nagano currently holds the speed record on both the 1st and 2nd Stages of Sasuke. Even though he claims he wasn't as ready as he would've liked, he finished the 1st Stage in Sasuke 13 in only 51 seconds. Along with his reputation in Sasuke, Nagano is the only man to have ever made it to the final stage (Final Viking) of Viking: The Ultimate Obstacle Course, coming within 5 feet of the finish before running out of time. He has also trained his older sister, Taeko Uchida and his wife Asami Nagano so they could compete in Kunoichi, the female-only spin off of Sasuke.
After Nagano's retirement in Sasuke 32, in 2017 Inui Masato (the director of Sasuke) revealed on his twitter account that Nagano would be an analyst in Sasuke 33.
Nagano released his first album in 2011.
This list shows all the competitions Nagano participated in, along with his contestant number, and the stage and obstacle where he was eliminated.
|7th||87||Failed Warped Wall||First|
|8th||41||Failed Warped Wall||First|
|9th||61||Failed Pipe Slider||Third|
|10th||999*||Failed Jump Hang||First|
|11th||96||Failed Final Rope||Final|
|12th||100||Failed Final Rope (by 0.11 seconds)||Final|
|13th||100||Failed Final Rope||Final|
|14th||100||Failed Jumping Bars||Third|
|15th||100||Failed Metal Spin||Second|
|16th||100||Failed Devil's Swing||Third|
|17th||99||Total Victory (2.56 seconds to spare)||Final|
|18th||96||Disqualified on Shin-Cliff Hanger*||Third|
|19th||100||Failed Flying Chute||First|
|20th||2000*||Failed Downhill Jump||Second|
|21st||100||Failed Gliding Ring||Third|
|22nd||100||Failed Slider Jump||First|
|24th||100||Failed Jumping Spider||First|
|25th||99||Failed Circle Slider||First|
|26th||99||Failed Jumping Spider||First|
|27th||100||Failed Ultimate Cliff Hanger||Third|
|28th||100||Failed Second Warped Wall||First|
|29th||100||Failed Second Warped Wall (injured)||First|
|30th||2999*||Failed Swap Salmon Ladder||Second|
|31st||98||Failed Warped Wall||First|
|32nd||100||Failed Lumberjack Climb (Time Out)||First|
* In the 10th Competition, the contestant numbers ranged from 901 to 1000 to show that 1000 competitors have attempted Sasuke. Thus, rather than 99, Nagano's contestant number was 999. Similarly, in the 20th Competition, the numbers ran from 1901 to 2000 to indicate that 2000 competitors have attempted Sasuke's First Stage. Nagano's number was 2000 here rather than 100. Then, in the 30th Competition, the numbers went from 2901 to 3000 to indicate that 3000 competitors have attempted Sasuke's First Stage, and Nagano's number was 2999 rather than 99.
* When Nagano tried to cross the second gap in the redesigned Cliff Hanger, he accidentally grabbed the top frame with his left hand. Rather than continue on with the 3rd Stage, he announced his mistake, gracefully disqualifying himself from the competition.