“Although evidence exists from 1804 of explorer and cartographer Kondo Morishige publishing a depiction of a reindeer pulling an Ainu man on primitive skates, Japan’s humble beginnings in actual figure skating seem to trace back to Manchuria, which was a volatile area in northeast China and Inner Mongolia in the 1930s and 1940s.
“That’s not to say people weren’t skating in Japan before the Manchu people helped popularize and support the sport … The first All-Japan Figure Skating Championships were held during the 1929-1930 season in Nikkō, a city one hundred and forty kilometers north of Tokyo. The first Japanese figure skating champion was Makoto Kubo and, five years later, Japan would hold its first ladies competition which was won by a very young skater named Etsuko Inada. 1932 was the first year Japan sent skaters to the Winter Olympics and World Championships. Kazuyoshi Oimatsu and Ryoichi Obitani finished ninth and twelfth in the 1932 Winter Olympics, and seventh and eighth out of nine in their first effort at the World Championships.
“Inada would be the first female Japanese skater to compete internationally in 1936 when she competed at the European Championships, Olympic Games and World Championships, and placed in the top ten at all three. At twelve, she was the youngest and smallest of all of the competitors at the 1936 Winter Games in Germany>”
– “An Early History Of Japanese Figure Skating“, Skate Guard, by Ryan Stevens, 2015