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Orion last won the day on August 23 2016

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  1. Dohyo soil standardised

    There are three large square plates: the one the dohyo is built on, another of equal size underneath it, and the one to the rear of the dohyo At the press of a button, the dohyo one is lowered below surface level (as seen in the photo). another press and the rear plate moves forward and covers the hole over the dohyo while the plate previously under the dohyo moves backwards and up, to fill the empty space. This happens, for instance, before the February event of the Choir of 5,000 singing Beethoven's 9th. For this, the orchestra sits on the plate above the dohyo. When the dohyo is needed again, the whole process happens in reverse. Of course, this mechanical process was put in place only in the present Kokugikan, which opened in January 1985. At that time I was writing for all kinds of papers and magazines (and also sang in the Choir of 5,000) so I took every opportunity of learning about this -- and when possible, actually being there. Orion
  2. Former Juryo Dewaotori intai

    He was very helpful with Mitakeumi when he was coming up the ladder, sort of waiting on him but also showing him how to behave like a sekitori. A tactful job of helping a junior rise to a height he himself wasn't going to reach again. Orion
  3. "sumo-san"

    Starting from the end, if you are talking to a man who is obviously in sumo and you don't know his shikona, it is acceptable in Japanese to address him or refer to him as "sumo-san" or, more politely, "o-sumo-san." If you are talking about such a man (rather than addressing him directly) "sumotori" is always right. In all these contexts, the word "sumo" (plural "sumos") used a a noun has always been wrong, and is generally used by would-be journalists who haven't done any homework in the right places. Orion
  4. June 2017 pics overview

    I recall that a man who has been a sekitori never becomes someone else's tsukebito -- but I don't recall if this is a rule or a custom. Orion
  5. Trivia bits

    I can only reply from the opposite point of view. The first sumo I saw on live TV was Osaka 1968, when on the last day Wakanami, at that time a hiramaku, won his bout but nobody made a big fuss, as Kirinji (later Daikirin) was confidently expected to win his bout and clinch the yusho. When he lost, it finally sank in that Wakanami had already won the yusho a whole lot earlier. Many years later, when I was researching recent sumo history, a good friend (Dewanishiki?) told me that it was then that the rikishi themselves demanded that in the second half of a tournament lower-ranked men with very good scores should be brought up to face higher-ranked men in the top bouts. Orion
  6. May YDC soken

    No. If he'd already told his oyakata that he was in no state to appear at the Soken, then it was the oyakata's duty to inform the Kyokai. Simple as that. Orion Orion
  7. New kesho mawashi (pics)

    Decades ago I was informed that, unlike the regular silk mawashi worn for the actual bouts, which goes on next to the skin, they wear a plain loincloth to protect the valuable kesho-mawashi; but I have never attempted to verify this. Orion
  8. Memories, memories... On my first visit to Japan, staying at a farm up in the mountains near Nikko, I saw the Osaka basho 1968 on TV. Our host couldn't manage much English but my interest had already been piqued by a very good article in the Singapore Straits Times shortly before our departure, and I watched avidly. That's how I saw Takamiyama's first kinboshi (the first foreigner to beat a yokozuna) and, a couple of days later, the yokozuna lost again and promptly announced his retirement. Five years later I returned to Japan and have been living here ever since, and after another five years I moved into the sumo neighborhood and was accepted as the first-ever foreign paying supporter of Dewanoumi-beya. Even then, I didn't immediately cotton on to the fact that the master was the yokozuna whose retirement I had seen on TV so many years earlier. And that, folks, is how I got started in sumo. Orion
  9. Clothing shop for rikishi

    Across the road, catty-corner, there's a small shop selling Japanese footwear that includes big sizes and in particular, items that are comparatively narrow in relation to their length, a feature of many foreign feet. Many many moons ago I featured it in an article on all Japanese footwear, including an interview with the owner . Orion
  10. Clothing shop for rikishi

    So have I -- and not many years ago. One of the NHK staff draped a Konishiki-sized jacket over me -- and I just disappeared! Orion
  11. On the morning before each Tokyo basho starts, there is the dohyo-matsuri, in which the freshly-made Kokugikan dohyo is consecrated by the tate gyoji, assisted by one makunouchi-kaku and one juryo-kaku gyoji. The Kyokai top brass sit on chairs at the front, plus (these days) the top-ranking rikishi; all the shimpan sit along the east and west sides of the dohyo, and all the remaining gyoji, in business suits, sit in the floor seats at the rear. Members of the public can also watch from the seats outside the official ones. When the short (about 30 mins) ceremony is over, all those in the know rush outside to the main doorway where the large photographs of the last two yusho winners are propped upright, and they are presented one by one to the winners, who also receive the "real" small one that is their personal memento. (Having smaller copies made to give away is a personal matter for the winners. I've never seen those before.) They are usually persuaded to shake hands and pose for the general public, while yobidashi and workmen lose no time in manhandling the two yusho-gaku up into the places under the rafters where the two oldest ones have already been removed and taken to the basement store-room. Orion
  12. When will Hakuho intai?

    This is precisely what I was trying to say in my last week's post, to which one or two people have tried to add from a Wiki search. In the meantime, in my regular job which is behind the scenes, I have prevented a minor problem (major catastophe? ) by using my knowledge of Mongolian names. IMHO the basic problem for Hakuho may be that his father Jigjid was the first Mongolian to represent his country in any Olympic Games -- he even had to take part in the opening ceremony carrying the Mongolian flag ( and somewhere I still have the photo!). I am only guessing, since it is several years since I had the chance to talk directly with Hakuho, that he may be unwilling to appear to outdistance his father at that level. Orion
  13. When will Hakuho intai?

    This strikes me as the closest explanation. Just one point, though it's several years since I was using a bit of Mongolian: isn't his illustrious father's name "Jigjid"? adding the "-iin" is the equivalent of the English "-'s" meaning that Hakuho is Jigjid's son. On a personal note, I do hope that Hakuho's timing will work out and the Kyokai can make him one of their most distinguished ichidai toshiyori. As many have said, he's "more Japanese than the Japanese" -- partly thanks to the early experience of his Japanese wife's reading to him from the biographies of famous Japanese rikishi of old (that was in the early days while they still had free evenings together!) Orion
  14. The Yobidashi

    No, the fans are clean. But there is a folded up program showing the next few bouts and as each yobidashi finishes his stint he hands it to the next. I once interviewed a tate-yobidashi and he said that at first he was still looking for the next man to hand it to -- but of course he was now the final caller! Orion
  15. Identify Rikishi

    Yes, that's Dewanoumi-beya and both the twins are there in the clip. Once when I was there with an ambassador and his family there was a MMA man being filmed. The guys were walking on eggshells to avoid hurting him! Orion