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Hakurozan's interview


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#1 Manekineko

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 14:49

The original interview in Russian

As mentioned in Brother Act thread, I undertook the translation and here it is! Words I didn't know how to translate are in [brackets], unclear sentences are marked with (???)...
Edit: much of untraslated words now filled in thanks to jaffa. (Blushing...)

Having obtained promotion to the highest sumo division - Makuuchi - and preparing for his debut there in Nagoya basho, Hakurozan was kind enough to answer the questions of www.japan-sumo.ru

Q: During May tournament you were on the dohyo with your leg taped up. Are you troubled by an injury?

A: No, my leg is fine. I used the elastic binding to prevent possible recidivisms.

Q: What did your mentor, Hatachiyama-oyakata, think of your performance?

A: He said that I fought well in the start, but that near the end I became too defensive, pulling the opponents.

Q: Was it exhaustion?

A: Yes, exhaustion among other things. In those 15 days, everyday after morning practice I would come to Kokugikan, I would have my hair done for 40-50 minutes, and then I spent the time until dohyo-iri (dohyo entering ceremony) preparing for the bout. Quite a tiring regime. And additionally, the lack of appropriate training partners showed. During the tournaments there is no degeiko (training in other heyas), and in my heya there are no other wrestlers from elite makuuchi and juryo divisions. My brother has the same problem.

Q: Roho was quite distraught when he didn't win a special award after the March tournament, although he had 11 wins?

A: Yes, my brother was bitter about it. But he was told that it was because of tachiai-henka, when he avoided direct contact in bout against Kotomitsuki. And in May Roho couldn't show his best sumo because he injured his neck couple of days before the basho started.

Q: What about the conflict between Roho and Asashoryu in official training session before the Natsu basho?

A: That episode cause much rumours and gossip. In fact nothing terrible happened. Roho won against Chiyotaikai, against Tochiazuma, and was called to meet Asashoryu. Yokozuna won, but, when my brother already stepped behind straw border, gave him a sharp slap. Roho gave a nasty look to Asashoryu and hurried for a rematch. But the yokozuna called Kakizoe. Roho finally made Asashoryu to pay attention to him, but before the bout started yokozuna said: "Be more careful with me". That time Roho prevailed. By the way, that's how my brother hurt his neck, training with Asashoryu.
And after the official training session ended Roho found himself surrounded by journalists, and he said something like that he always climbs on the dohyo to win - no matter whether his opponent is an ordinary maegashira, ozeki or yokozuna. My brother's statements were overblown and not fully correctly reported. He got reprimanded by his first trainer, Taiho oyakata, and was called to appear before wrestling "chairmen". Several days later, when he met Roho, Asashoryu asked was it about what happened (???). Roho answered that everything was normal. And that was the end of the incident.

Q: In three years you have mastered Japanese? Do you take lessons all the time?

A: No, that wasn't necessary. I communicate freely, can talk about any subject, give interviews. Sometimes I even speak Japanese with my brother. Sometimes it is hard to find the necessary Russian words to express my thoughts correctly.
Roho and I sometimes see lessons of Russian on the first commercial channel NHK. One day the crew of the show came to my heya (???). I went to the blackboard with chalk and pointer, wrote words "spasibo (thank you)", "pozhaluista (please)", "zdravstvuite (hello)", and my heya-mates repeated them after me. In sumo now many people speak Russian: Kokkai, Kotooshu, Baruto, Kyokushuzan even sings Russian songs.

Q: Do you and Roho share the same friends, or does each have his own circle?

A: We share the same friends. We meet Kokkai every day. We go together to the Orthodox church. Sometimes, when we lose on the same day, we go somewhere out to dinner, to forget our woes. We watch out for our compatriot that has joined professional sumo, Wakanoho. We keep company with Kotooshu, Chiyotaikai, Hakuho, Hokutoriki.

Q: Is Hokutoriki always so serious?

A: No. He avoids strangers, and doesn't like to give autographs. But in circle of friends he improves.

Q: And how do yokozuna and ozeki see themselves?

A: We have quite good relationship with Asashoryu. Chiyotaikai - he's quite chap for company. Kaio is always affable. And Tochiazuma keeps to himself, he's quite taciturn and always focused on sumo.

Q: In training, which of those higher ranked did you fight?

A: Asashoryu, Tochiazuma, Miyabiyama.

Q: Did you happen to win against any of them?

A: Nope.

Q: What kind of wrestlers are "unpleasant" for you?

A: Those like Kakizoe or Tochiazuma. Clever, unrelenting.

Q: Otsukasa?

A: Unfortunately I lost twice against Otsukasa. And in training I kept winning against him. It's the same story with Kitazakura.

Q: What recommendations does your mentor give you?

A: I got used to fighting "on the belt". And oyakata demands that I act more diversely. If "getting the belt" does not work, there is little opportunity to defeat the opponent. That's why it's necessary to conquer the technique of tsuppari. Currently I'm trying to begin the bout by pushes to the body. If that manoeuvre does not lead to victory, I try to get the opponent's belt.

Q: Is there something you dislike in the world of professional sumo?

A: I only dislike having to get up early. You have to be up by 6 in the morning. Only oyakata doesn't have to come to training. For a while in Kokkai's heya Oitekaze they tried starting the training at noon, but they quickly gave up that practice.
When I was freshly arrived to Japan, I couldn't understand why in heyas they give all work to the novices, why the juniors have to go out in light clothes even in winter. I was told that those beginning in sumo have to feel and see what their seniors get, to stimulate them.

Q: Now that you have lived in Japan for over three years do these things seem right to you?

A: Right. Sumo teaches you discipline quite well.

Q: The hardest time was when you were beginning your way as rikishi?

A: Yes. My brother and I ended up in different heyas. I knew where he was but I couldn't meet him, since I wasn't allowed to leave the "room" (heya). I couldn't even phone my brother, since I couldn't speak Japanese and I couldn't ask my heya-mates for help. I fought melancholy by training hard. (???)

Q: After becoming sekitori you stayed on living inside Hatachiyama-beya?

A: Yes. I have the whole floor for myself, since there are no other makuuchi or juryo ranked wrestlers in my heya.

Q: Do you still perform some works in the heya?

A: No. To tell the truth, even in the beginning I did almost nothing. I basically didn't understand anything in Japanese. What use could I be? What could I do? I said: I would work when I start understanding the language. But when I could handle Japanese, I was already heyagashira (the strongest wrestler in the heya).

Q: You have no problems with Japanese cuisine?

A: No. I like karaage, sushi. And recently a Russian restaurant opened near the heya. I can order there dumplings, borsch. They prepare especially for us pancakes with cream.

Q: Do you have free time?

A: Not much. Usually only in the evenings. After the hard training you have to sleep. Otherwise I cannot recover.

Q: Do rikishi often spend their free time in town?

A: There are all sorts of clubs by interests. There are free days when some rikishi go fishing, other to play golf. I have no interest in either. I played golf a couple of times, and only broke the club. Tokitsuumi is considered the best golf-player among sumotori.

Q: What do you read?

A: Recently Murakami was recommended to me. I bought several books. I will read them in Nagoya. In Aichi prefecture Hatachiyama and Odake heya are far from each other, so I cannot meet my brother often as usual.

Q: It seems Roho is a fan of classical music...

A: Yes, classical music helps him to focus and relax. He often listens to Beethoven, for example.

Q: And how are thing going with Anatoly Mihahanov - the pioneer of Russian professional sumo?

A: Orora is slowly climbing the banzuke. I think he will soon have a breakthrough and then Tolya will be unstoppable. Now, if he manages to grab the opponent's belt, he has the strength of a mid-makushita wrestler. In Kitanoumi-beya they wanted to get him to 300 kilos. And I think Aurora has to get rid of the weight until he's 220 kilos. During the bouts, his brain sends the right impulse, but the body doesn't always listen.
Orora is a really good man. He never gives grief to younger heya-mates. Tolya helped my brother and me very much. When we had just arrived to Japan, he was often berated because of us. Once I bought a bicycle because I didn't know that it was a luxury not allowed for a junior wrestler. In the heya they started to lecture me - and I, to avoid more complicated explanations where I got the money, said that the bike was a gift from Orora. So Tolya had to take the heat off me.

Q: How often do you meet Amuru?

A: Unfortunately, not often. His heya is in the neighbouring prefecture Chiba. But somehow we all manage to meet from time to time. Kolya made amazing salad. And Roho fried pancakes.

Q: Why is Kokkai unable to rise to san'yaku (komusubi or sekiwake rank)?

A: Kokkai has problems with his elbows. He should go to operation, but he doesn't want to because he would have to miss two tournaments.

Q: How powerful and terrible is Asashoryu?

A: You know why he slaps his belt before the start of the bout? By this he makes it known that he will demonstrate the technique of [taza]. No one can do it better than he does. Maybe only Ama. And do you know who he gazes at after the bout ends? Before I thought it was the camera. No, he looks over his back towards the head judge.

Q: Mongolian rikishi usually keep together?

A: Hakuho and Ama are inseparable. Between Asashoryu and Hakuho the rivalry takes first place. Even their fathers were in competition in national Mongolian wrestling. Asashoryu is not seen very often with Asasekiryu. Yokozuna loves to gather young rikishi from lower divisions, and have them as guests. After the end of Natsu basho, all higher-ranked Mongolians returned to homeland for vacation, and there was organised a basketball match between them and the best of national Mongolian wrestlers. Sumo guys won.

Q: How do the colleagues treat Takamisakari? Do they dislike the Robocop for his extravagant behaviour?

A: No, they treat him well. But Takamisakari does not have close friends among the rikishi. He is a very good man. He was moved to tears when he got new slippers from his assistants (tsukebito) on his birthday. And on the dohyo Takamisakari is as he is. That's not a pose, he acts in his own manner. Simply that behaviour focuses him on the bout, fills him with adrenaline. During the training he shows strength of a makushita-ranked wrestler, and in official bouts defeats all the strong opponents. Yes, there is something strange about him. For example, he sometimes talks to his right hand. I once asked him what is he saying. "I ask it to go in the proper way (chtoby voshla kak sleduet)", he said.

Q: Baruto is rapidly rising towards sumo elite...

A: President of the sumo association, Kitanoumi oyakata said that, in his opinion, the next yokozuna will be an Estonian... Baruto is very strong. When shaking hands he very powerfully squeezes my not feeble hand. On hand dynamometer I grip 90 kilos, Kokkai - 85, and Baruto - 120!
There was another Estonian in professional sumo, Kitaoji, but he returned home. Now in that heya, Irumagawa, Kokkai's 17 year old younger brother is training. It was planned for him to make his maezumo debut in July, but, maybe he will have to go to an operation for leg injury which he got participating in free-style wrestling.

Q: In May Wakanoho debuted in the lowest divison, jonokuchi...

A: It is a bit early to talk about Soslan Gagloev's prospects. Wakanoho still hasn't developed his own fighting style. His sumo is still being formed. Still, the Young Phoenix has a quite strict mentor. He never greets anyone if he sees some wrestler standing on the training ground with his hands relaxed.

Q: And which oyakata could be called the strictest?

A: Sadogatake oyakata is quite rough, Naruto oyakata. I often go to degeiko in Naruto heya. After warm-ups begin the training bouts, than the wrestlers from junior divisions come to the dohyo, then more training bouts. No other heya has such exercise and prolonged training. And oyakata can also hit the lazy ones.

Q: Does he hit only his pupils?

A: At that time there is no difference between "his" and "others".

Q: And what joys are there in your hard life? Besides victories?

A: When I can visit my home.

Edited by Manekineko, 30 June 2005 - 07:58.

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.


- Gilbert Keith Chesterton


#2 Jaffa

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 15:31

Please find below my version of words left untranslated.

[pozvonki] backbone
[melom i ukazkoj] chalk and pointer
[naporistye] rigorous, uncompromising
[nravyatsya] to like smth
[pel'meni] dumpling
[blinchiki] pancakes
[Bogatyri] muscle-man
[taza] pelvis
[ne razlei vodoi] cannot be separated, figuratively speaking
[tapochki] slippers
May Baruto fulfill his potential

#3 Odoriou

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 16:34

Thank you a lot for that, Manekineko. (Blushing...)

... everyday after morning practice I would come to Kokugikan, I would have my hair done for 40-50 minutes ...

Rikishi with more hair should need even more time then. (Eating...)
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

#4 Sasanishiki

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 17:54

... everyday after morning practice I would come to Kokugikan, I would have my hair done for 40-50 minutes ...

Rikishi with more hair should need even more time then. ;-)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Maybe it takes longer to gather the hair he has together into a mage. Someone with more hair might have it done more easily!

#5 Chinonofuji

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 01:45

Q: How powerful and terrible is Asashoryu?

A: You know why he slaps his belt before the start of the bout? By this he makes it known that he will demonstrate the technique of [taza]. No one can do it better than he does. Maybe only Ama. And do you know who he gazes at after the bout ends? Before I thought it was the camera. No, he looks over his back towards the head judge.


First, thank you very much for this translation. He sounds so open about sharing his opinion, which seems slightly unusual to me for the world of sumo.

Second, interesting insight from H. on where it is that Asashoryu looks after the bout ends. A mystery solved?!? I wonder if it's just a superstition on his part.

#6 Manekineko

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 07:58

Please find below my version of words left untranslated.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thank you!
Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.


- Gilbert Keith Chesterton


#7 Manekineko

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 07:59

Second, interesting insight from H. on where it is that Asashoryu looks after the bout ends.  A mystery solved?!?  I wonder if it's just a superstition on his part.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have a feeling some things that Hakurozan says about other sekitori is simple hearsay... It's hard to judge how much of that is true.
Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.


- Gilbert Keith Chesterton


#8 Jejima

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 07:16

Many thanks for this translation! It is great reading the candid opinions of the rikishi :-)

Q: Roho was quite distraught when he didn't win a special award after the March tournament, although he had 11 wins?

A: Yes, my brother was bitter about it. But he was told that it was because of tachiai-henka, when he avoided direct contact in bout against Kotomitsuki.

That will (hopefully) encourage him not to kenka :-)

Q: Do you and Roho share the same friends, or does each have his own circle?

A: We share the same friends. We meet Kokkai every day. We go together to the Orthodox church. Sometimes, when we lose on the same day, we go somewhere out to dinner, to forget our woes. We watch out for our compatriot that has joined professional sumo, Wakanoho. We keep company with Kotooshu, Chiyotaikai, Hakuho, Hokutoriki.


This would appear to answer the thread from some time back about whether there are any Christian rikishi. It is an interesting bunch of friends. I'm surprised that Chiyotaikai is in the group, as he has been around for donkey's years before the others made it high - and at a much higher rank. Does Chiyotaikai have another circle of chums from his own era too?

Q: Do rikishi often spend their free time in town?

A: There are all sorts of clubs by interests. There are free days when some rikishi go fishing, other to play golf. I have no interest in either. I played golf a couple of times, and only broke the club. Tokitsuumi is considered the best golf-player among sumotori.


Interesting! Who else plays golf?


Q: And how are thing going with Anatoly Mihahanov - the pioneer of Russian professional sumo?

A: Orora is slowly climbing the banzuke. I think he will soon have a breakthrough and then Tolya will be unstoppable. Now, if he manages to grab the opponent's belt, he has the strength of a mid-makushita wrestler. In Kitanoumi-beya they wanted to get him to 300 kilos. And I think Aurora has to get rid of the weight until he's 220 kilos. During the bouts, his brain sends the right impulse, but the body doesn't always listen.


300 kilos? Why?!? That is even more than Konishiki managed to get to! Brain and body not always working together - is he one of these?

Q: How do the colleagues treat Takamisakari? Do they dislike the Robocop for his extravagant behaviour?

A: No, they treat him well. But Takamisakari does not have close friends among the rikishi. He is a very good man. He was moved to tears when he got new slippers from his assistants (tsukebito) on his birthday. And on the dohyo Takamisakari is as he is. That's not a pose, he acts in his own manner. Simply that behaviour focuses him on the bout, fills him with adrenaline. During the training he shows strength of a makushita-ranked wrestler, and in official bouts defeats all the strong opponents. Yes, there is something strange about him. For example, he sometimes talks to his right hand. I once asked him what is he saying. "I ask it to go in the proper way (chtoby voshla kak sleduet)", he said.

Is this him? (NB: This link will change to a 'pop-up' - but it is worth a look ;-))

Edited by Jejima, 06 July 2005 - 07:17.

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