A few weeks ago I wrote about Zitkala-Sa, who was featured on Google Doodle. Google likes to feature inspiring people in their Doodles, and today the spotlight is on Masako Katsura, who is known as the “First Lady of Billiards.” Billiards was originally a game monopolized by men. However, Masako came out of the woodworks and showed the men how to handle those pool balls.
About Masako Katsura
Masako Katsura, nicknamed Katsy was born in Tokyo in 1913. She was a Japanese carom player who ran 10,000 at a gam of straight rail in exhibition! She blazed a trail for women in the sport by competing with the best in a male-dominated sport. If you’ve watched the Queens Gambit, picture this lady as the Beth Harmon of the professional billiard world. She was the most active in 1950s and she became Japan’s only female professional player. In competition in Japan, she took second place in the country’s national three-cushion billiards championship three times.
She married a U.S. citizen and emigrated with him to the United States in 1951. Masako was invited to play in the U.S.-sponsored World Three-Cushion Championship where she took seventh place. She was the first woman to ever be included in any world billiards tournament. This led her to going on an exhibition tour.
How did she get started?
Unlike Beth Harmon, Masako Katsura was not an orphan, but her dad did die when she was just 12 years old. She went on to live with her older sister who’s husband owned a billiard parlor. She began spending time there and by 13 she was working as a billiard attendant for him. He taught her the fundamentals and got a table gifted to her home because of her interest.
Masako Katsura practiced diligently and began playing against Japanese men and successfully defeated them. She was only 15 years old when she won the women’s championship straight rail tournament in Japan. After that, she turned professional and began touring in Asia. Her two younger sisters, Noriko and Tadako, also won the women’s straight rail championship in other years.
Summary: Masako Katsura
This amazing lady, the “First Lady of Billiards,” left her mark by being bold and talented. She successfully beat hundreds of men and women, and helped show the world that women can do anything they set their minds to. Who knows, maybe there will be a Netflix show about her one day as well! You can read more about her in this book.
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