Takeichi, Baron Nishi

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameTakeichi•Nishi
Used nameTakeichi, Baron•Nishi
Original name西•竹一
Born12 July 1902 in Azabu, Minato, Tokyo (JPN)
Died22 March 1945 in Iwo Jima, Tokyo (JPN)
AffiliationsArmy Cavalry School, Funabashi (JPN)
NOC Japan


Takeichi, the 2nd Baron Nishi, was a top equestrian, well-known in America, and very popular among the Hollywood crowd, but paradoxically a top Japanese Imperial Army officer during World War II. Nishi was born as the illegitimate son of Tokujiro Nishi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and succeeded to the title of Baron upon his father’s death in 1912. In order to pursue a diplomatic career, he attended military academy in Japan, graduating in 1924, and joined the Japanese cavalry. In 1927 he graduated from the Army Cavalry School and was promoted to the rank of Cavalry Lieutenant. In Italy, he bought his favored horse, Uranus, on a recommendation of his compatriot Yasushi Imamura.

Before the 1932 Olympics, after competing in jumping events in Europe, Nishi spent time in Los Angeles where he became part of the Hollywood social circle, counting Douglas Fairbanks, Will Rogers, and Mary Pickford among his friends. His widow later noted that he sent her a letter stating, “I’m being very popular here. Bye-bye.” She also noted that he was despondent after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but felt he had to fight for Japan as he was first a soldier.

After the Los Angeles Olympics, he became an instructor at the Army Cavalry School. He competed again in 1936 in Berlin, but with lesser success. When war broke out, he became responsible for the training of replenished horses until most of the cavalry regiments were converted into tank units. In 1944, Baron Nishi was named regimental commander of the 26th Tank Regiment, Mudanjiang, which was then assigned first to Northern Manchuria and subsequently to the defense of Iwo Jima. During a stop in Japan, he visited his horse Uranus for the last time in Baji Kōen, where 20 years later the dressage event of the Tokyo Olympics were held.

Nishi died during the defense of Iwo Jima, but circumstances of his death are not precisely known and many stories have circulated. It has been written that American forces broadcast appeals to him daily, asking for his surrender, because of his fame in America. Some stories say he committed suicide, some say he was killed by machine-gun fire, and some say he was killed by American flamethrowers. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of colonel. His horse, Uranus, died one week later.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Equestrian Jumping (Equestrian) JPN Takeichi, Baron Nishi
Individual, Men (Olympic) Uranus 1 Gold
1936 Summer Olympics Equestrian Jumping (Equestrian) JPN Takeichi, Baron Nishi
Individual, Men (Olympic) Uranus 20
Team, Men (Olympic) Uranus / Japan 6
Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) JPN Takeichi, Baron Nishi
Individual, Men (Olympic) Ascot 12
Team, Men (Olympic) Ascot / Japan DNF

Special Notes