Verified Member
Mar 19, 2007
vero beach fl
Masako Katsura: "The first lady of billiards" and the national heroine of Japan

I want to leave this significant woman here
25 years as there is no legend with us

Masako Katsura was called "the first lady of billiards", she won one title after another, despite condemnation and criticism, she became the first woman to play billiards professionally. People came to her just to admire, and left stunned by her talent and unsurpassed tactics of the game. This amazing woman deservedly took a place in the World Billiards Hall of Fame and proved to the world that a woman can compete on an equal footing with men in this intellectual sport.

The tragedy of Masako
In 1925, while still a 12-year-old girl, Masako Katsura lost her parents. She had to move in with her older sister and her husband, who owned a small billiard room. This sport was just gaining popularity in Japan, but it was played exclusively by men. The girl showed interest in the game, constantly running up to the table and trying to make combinations with balls, spied on by the players.

The owner let the girl help him. She began to get balls from the holes for the players, place them on the table, polish and give out cues. The permanent owners got used to the lively little girl, and some allowed her to hit the balls with a cue, which she was incredibly happy about. She wanted to stand at the table on a par with the rest of the players, it was her cherished dream.
Love for billiards
It soon became clear that Masako was seriously interested in billiards. The sister bought a small play table for her so that the girl could exercise. At the age of 15, the girl decided to take part in the championship. She fought professional players in her age category and won.There was no doubt that Masako Katsura began to play billiards seriously, although this occupation was unacceptable for a Japanese girl and was condemned by society. She had to endure a lot of criticism, but Masako showed character and continued to study. Moreover, she involved her younger sisters in the game, who later also won more than once competitions at various levels.
Victories and titles
In 1937, the meeting between Masako Katsura and Kinri Matsuyama, a multiple world champion in billiards, became fateful. He appreciated the girl's talent and began to train her. Later, he repeatedly admitted that he was amazed at the girl's abilities, never before had he seen such gifted female billiards players.

In the future, Masako twice took second place at the national billiards championship in Japan. It was rumored that she was not given victory just because she was a woman. After getting married and emigrating to the United States in 1951, Masako's career took off. At the 1952 World Championships, she finished fourth, which was a real breakthrough. Before that, women had never participated in championships of this level.
In memory forever
Masako Katsura was an amazing woman, intelligent and talented, with her own inner core and not afraid of judgment. Although she never rose above fourth place in world tournaments, her contribution to the development of women's billiards cannot be overestimated. It was Masako who became the one who taught the world to the idea of women's participation in professional billiards.Many reigning champions admitted that Masako's appearance bribed them and was misleading. She was fragile, small, like a porcelain doll in high heels, but she had an unrivaled ability to play. Very soon they began to call her "the first lady of billiards." People came to the game only to admire Katsura. In 1990, Masako returned from the United States to her homeland and became a national hero of Japan.

The athlete died in 1995, but her memory is still alive today. In Japan, billiard schools have been opened, which have long accepted not only boys, but also girls, which was impossible 50 years ago. She broke the gender barrier and remained the "progenitor" of women's billiards not only in Japan, but throughout the world.


Verified Member
May 24, 2004
Placerville, CA
She came to CA sometime in the 60’s and gave an exhibition at San Gabriel Lanes, which had three billiard tables and quite a few good players. She beat the best we had, Charlie Millikan (sp), aNd then gave a straight rail exhibition, nursing the balls around the table very quickly. She could run hundreds once the balls together. Very impressive and very tiny and shooting right or left handed.

Dennis "Whitey" Young

Verified Member
Jul 8, 2017
Klamath Falls, Or.
It looks like she is possibly playing with a Martin cue, ivory joint.
Thanks for sharing her story, and for the follow up posts. I've seen this picture before of Worst and her, now I know her and the story. thanks, Whitey