Masako Katsura


Billiards is a game that requires precision, strategy, and a lot of skill. It has always been considered a male-dominated sport, but in the 1950s, a Japanese woman named Masako Katsura broke that stereotype and became the first woman to achieve global recognition in billiards. In this article, we will delve into the life of Masako Katsura and explore how she became the ‘First Lady of Billiards.’

Early Life and Introduction to Billiards:

Masako Katsura was born on December 16, 1913, in Tokyo, Japan. She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman, and her family was very supportive of her interests. Katsura was introduced to billiards by her brother when she was just 12 years old. Her brother was a regular at a local billiards hall, and Katsura often accompanied him. It was there that she discovered her love for the game.

Career Beginnings: 

Katsura began playing billiards regularly and became a skilled player. However, as a woman in Japan in the 1930s, she faced significant challenges in pursuing a career in billiards. Women were not allowed in most billiards halls and the few that did allow women had separate, poorly maintained tables.

Despite these challenges, Katsura persevered and participated in local billiards tournaments. She quickly gained a reputation for her skill and was noticed by the Japanese Billiards Association.

Global Recognition:

In 1949, Katsura traveled to the United States to participate in the World Pocket Billiards Championship. Women were not allowed to participate in the tournament then, but Katsura was invited to showcase her skills in an exhibition match. She performed exceptionally well and received a standing ovation from the audience.

Global Sensation

Katsura returned to the United States the following year and competed in the same tournament. This time, she was allowed to participate officially, and she shocked the world by finishing third in the competition, ahead of many male players. Katsura’s achievement garnered widespread media attention and made her a global sensation.


Katsura’s success in billiards paved the way for other women to pursue sports careers. She inspired many young women to take up billiards, and her legacy inspires generations of players. Katsura continued to play billiards well into her 70s and remained an active member of the billiards community until her passing in 1995.


Masako Katsura’s remarkable career in billiards is a testament to her skill, perseverance, and determination. She broke down gender barriers in a male-dominated sport and inspired many women to pursue careers in billiards. Katsura’s legacy is a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication, regardless of gender or societal expectations.



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