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School sumo in Otawara


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#1 Yubinhaad

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 22:41

A new dohyo was constructed at Kawanishi school in Otawara, Tochigi prefecture recently. The school's previous dohyo had not been used or maintained for over two decades, and was in no state to host a new generation of young sumotori. In need of manpower and sumo knowledge, help was drafted in from the city council, the school committee and the prefecture's sumo federation. More than 70 people got involved, including school staff and parents, helping to breathe a bit of life into Otawara's school sumo programme. PTA Chairman Masayoshi Otsuka said: "I wanted to convey the joy of sumo wrestling to the children." The school is now one of two in the city with sumo facilities.

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#2 athelitextreme

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:43

This is awesome!!!

#3 Johnofuji

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 00:01

How cool would it have been to have a dohyo at school.It might even solve a few bullying issues. Some of the Japanese schools like Meitoku Gijuku where Asashoryu, Asasekiryu and Kotoshogiku graduated from even have the luxury of their own chanko room.
It looks like a big operation to build one of these outdoor dohyos. In the photo we can only see 11 men and one hoe so the other 60 odd people must constructing the other half of the dohyo. I tried to lobby my local council to let me build one in a park but I gave up when I got passed along a chain of bureaucrats longer than a list of yaocho suspects.
It's so important in amasumo to get used to a clay dohyo.Training on soft judo tatami mats and sprung floors is the same as practicing how to pillow fight instead of putting on boxing gloves before a fight.
There is nothing sadder than a sad Japanese man!

#4 Asashosakari

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    Sumo is a very good thing. Though better with affordable video.

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 00:35

A new dohyo was constructed at Kawanishi school in Otawara, Tochigi prefecture recently. The school's previous dohyo had not been used or maintained for over two decades, and was in no state to host a new generation of young sumotori. In need of manpower and sumo knowledge, help was drafted in from the city council, the school committee and the prefecture's sumo federation. More than 70 people got involved, including school staff and parents, helping to breathe a bit of life into Otawara's school sumo programme. PTA Chairman Masayoshi Otsuka said: "I wanted to convey the joy of sumo wrestling to the children." The school is now one of two in the city with sumo facilities.

Perhaps worthy of note is that this is (probably) being done in conjunction with a new requirement for middle and high schools to offer at least one martial art as part of their physical education curricula, starting with the upcoming school year. Some numbers I saw from a poll in the Kanto area a few months ago had 70+% of schools going for judo (including many that have already had it anyway), with kendo and sumo in single digits and the rest undecided at the time. So there's lots of work to do to make sumo a more popular choice and it seems in Otawara the local sumo folks seized the opportunity.

For what it's worth judo has been having some problems of its own, with the large number of schools offering it meaning somewhat of a shortage of fully qualified teachers and/or a lack of sufficient supervision, which has led to relatively frequent fatalities (apparently over 100 confirmed nationwide in the last ~30 years), often due to head trauma. The Kyokai's then-press guy Nishonoseki was out there promoting sumo as a safer alternative last year, and you may recall Takanohana also banging the drum for an increased sumo presence at schools prior to his first election to director two years ago (as well as the creation of a Kyokai program to certify retired rikishi as school sumo coaches). That's probably something we'll hear about again once the Kyokai has sorted out its organizational reform issues.

Edit: Though, to clarify one thing: Otawara Kawanishi is an elementary school, so not subject to the new regulations. It's a good idea to "catch them young" though, so to speak, and having a proper dohyo available for the kids should make it more likely there'll be some demand for sumo as a school class in the higher school types (perhaps even using this dohyo), which I suspect is why the local folks have decided to reactivate a 20-year-dormant dohyo all of a sudden.

Edited by Asashosakari, 05 March 2012 - 00:44.


#5 Yubinhaad

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:51

It looks like a big operation to build one of these outdoor dohyos. In the photo we can only see 11 men and one hoe so the other 60 odd people must constructing the other half of the dohyo.


Hmm... Well, the article didn't offer any kind of head-count for the actual construction of the dohyo, so the total of 70+ might simply be all those who had some involvement, such as trucking in the materials and bringing cups of tea and so on. It also says the construction took two days in mid-February - I have no clue if that is rapid for dohyo construction or not. It's obviously not a 'proper' dohyo in the ozumo sense, full height and everything, so maybe two days is normal for such a project. Or maybe 70 people worked in shifts... I don't know.

Perhaps worthy of note is that this is (probably) being done in conjunction with a new requirement for middle and high schools to offer at least one martial art as part of their physical education curricula, starting with the upcoming school year. Some numbers I saw from a poll in the Kanto area a few months ago had 70+% of schools going for judo (including many that have already had it anyway), with kendo and sumo in single digits and the rest undecided at the time. So there's lots of work to do to make sumo a more popular choice and it seems in Otawara the local sumo folks seized the opportunity.


Thanks for that! There was another small quote from the PTA chairman in the article that I couldn't quite decipher enough to include, but to me it implied that the chairman himself had done sumo himself when he was at school, so maybe that's why he's now providing this welcome impetus in bringing sumo back to these schools.

Regarding kendo, would equipment costs be a prohibiting factor in the low take-up for that? Just wondering if it's much more expensive to get all the kendo gear compared to a one-time (or, not often) investment in a dohyo, or a bulk purchase of a few sizes of judogi.

Edited by Yubinhaad, 17 March 2012 - 17:39.



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