SASUKE (サスケ) Stages
The FINAL Stage is all about endurance. It's a vertical climb which gets higher every time someone beats it. The Sasuke Tower has become the iconic symbol of SASUKE/Ninja Warrior.
To date, the Final Stage has known four forms. Each of these share a single, common goal: to scale the tower and reach the button at the top before time expires. If the competitor does not reach the top platform in time, the rope is cut and the competitor falls (they are caught by a safety line). Starting from the 18th competition, the rope is no longer cut. Reaching the top is referred to as kanzenseiha (完全制覇), translated roughly as "complete domination", and rendered on Ninja Warrior as "total victory". The Final Stage's time limit is between 30 and 45 seconds.
Of all the competitors to attempt to claim victory, only 23 have been admitted to the final stage, and only four of them have gotten there more than once (Akira Omori in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd competitions, Shingo Yamamoto in the 3rd and 7th, Makoto Nagano in the 11th, 12th, 13th, his victory in the 17th competition and in the 23rd competition and Yuuji Urushihara in the 22nd and his victory in the 24th competition and 27). Currently there are only three victors: Kazuhiko Akiyama defeated Sasuke in the 4th Competition, Makoto Nagano in the 17th, and Yuuji Urushihara in the 24th and in the 27th.
The original Final Stage consisted of climbing a 15 meter (49 ft) rope. The contestant must start climbing from a seated position.
The second version of the Final Stage was unveiled in the 7th Competition, when Shingo Yamamoto became the first to attempt it. The height of the tower was increased to 22.5 metres (74 ft). It consists of a 12.5 metres (41 ft) Spider Climb followed by a 10 metres (33 ft) Rope Climb. After 15 seconds, the walls of the Spider Climb spread apart. This ensnared Yordan Yovtchev during the 8th Competition, when he failed to complete the Spider Climb before it began spreading, and fell off the tower.
The third version of the Final Stage was revealed in the 22nd competition, when Yuuji Urushihara was the first to try it. The height of the tower remained mostly the same as the second version of the Final Stage, but two new obstacles are used: a 13 metres (43 ft) "Heavenly Ladder" and a 10 metres (33 ft) "G Rope." The time limit has been increased to 45 seconds, then reduced to 40 seconds in the 23rd competition. Competitors are not dropped due to the Heavenly Ladder being in the way.
The fourth version of the Final Stage was revealed in the 27th competition, when Ryo Matachi was the first to attempt it. The height of the tower was reduced to 20 meters and consisted of a 20 meter (66 ft) Rope Climb similar to the first version of the Final Stage, but with a 5 meter height difference. The time limit stayed at 40 seconds. Unlike the first version of the Final Stage, competitors started at a standing position instead of a seated position.
The prize for completing the Final Stage was ¥2,000,000 (about US$18,618). The prize has now increased to ¥4,000,000 (about US$37,236) since the completion of the 17th tournament. In the 24th tournament a Nissan Fuga was also a prize if anyone could complete the final stage.
Typically, only one or two people make it to the Final Stage, if any make it at all. However, both the 3rd and 24th competitions saw a record 5 competitors attempt the Final Stage. After the 4th competition, though, the Final Stage was only achieved on average every other tournament.