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Everything posted by Orion

  1. Orion

    Most accomplished amateurs ever?

    Note, however, that Kushimaumi was not an outstanding professional -- demonstrating once again the great difference between amateur and professional sumo that many did not manage to bridge. Orion
  2. Like last year, all the foreigners were at the rear (the ones from the foreign schools and clubs and other places where the invitations were sent). The other three sides were filled up from local clubs and schools, noticeably for the old and the young, and for people with various disabilities. The loudspeaker commentaries and announcements were in both Japanese and English (and no other language). The staff who showed people round were in nice uniforms but they were not the regular Kokugikan staff (though I noticed some familiar faces in the background, making sure that everything was working). Orion
  3. Orion

    Sumo ticket scalpers caught

    The homeless were employed for this purpose in the crazy days when the present Kokugikan opened. At first scalpers hired students to sleep on the street for two or three days -- then they realized that the homeless slept on the street anyway. Orion
  4. Orion

    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
  5. Orion

    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
  6. Orion


    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
  7. Orion

    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
  8. Orion

    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
  9. Orion

    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
  10. Orion

    New kesho mawashi

    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
  11. 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
  12. Orion

    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
  13. Orion

    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
  14. 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
  15. Orion

    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
  16. Orion

    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
  17. Orion

    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
  18. Orion

    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
  19. However short, the ceremony must have been agony for his master Tagonoura, who was unable to do shimpan duty last basho because of the pain in his legs and feet; replaced by Nishiiwa, former Wakanosato. Orion
  20. Orion

    New kesho mawashi

    Kesho mawashi are expensive and if a family member can afford one that is basically it: assuming, of course, that the design is acceptable to the stable master (and ultimately to the Kyokai). But it is hard to imagine somebody paying out a few million yen for something yucky. Back in the day I followed the whole process of ordering and making of one particular kesho mawashi, to write an article (hint: Kotooshu's special from the EU Delegation) and that ended up in the final stages of the embroidery, followed by my only trip to the Prime Minister's Kantei for the presentation. Orion
  21. Orion

    Basho attendance

    One of my most computer-savvy friends thought so; she ended up with row 13 -- last row on sale! There's an awful lot of people out there who know when to get online. Orion
  22. Quite right, Panda! as I'm sure you know. Today was my day off, so I've been watching sumo full-time on NHK, 1:00 to 3:10 on satellite 2, then regular NHK 3:10 to 6:00, though as you predicted, for the first hour or so there was information running in spidery letters at the top of the picture. I'm just catching the evening news and it turns out that they've been having a lot of problems with inaccurate predictions; and of course, behind all this, there is the virtual certainty that there will be more aftershocks -- some of them probably so big that they count as fresh quakes. I am still very much aware that five out of eight of my larger pieces of furniture fell over in the Tohoku big one, even though I had had a pro install stabilizers. At least the sumo people and their audiences are safe in distant Fukuoka. Just hope their nearest one in Kumamoto doesn't start up again. Japan is a great country to live in, in many ways -- but it does have earthquakes and volcanoes. And maybe snow tomorrow here in Tokyo. Orion
  23. Orion

    Training question

    As somebody said, it varies with the heya. Personally I have very often seen a senior take a junior into a corner (I.e. not in the ring) and give him some one on one training, focussing on something he wasn't getting right in the bouts he just had. I was following this thread with some puzzlement, because all the observations seemed to be based on what a camera was showing, not what was happening in different places in the training room and outside on the street. And what do you suppose the beginners do in their six months in the Kyoshujo -- the sumo school occupying the second floor room that extends the full rear of the Kokugikan? Everyone who gets through maezumo and is presented to the public has to spend six mornings a week outside of basho time leaning all the postures and all the movements (and recite the rules!). The only ones excused this are the university and amateur champions who are admitted into the makushita ranks; they train at the proper level in their heya -- but they still have to go to the Kyoshujo mid-morning for the classroom lessons. Orion
  24. Look at a map of Japan. The quake happened on the north-east side of the main island. Sumo is in Fukuoka, a city in the north of a different island, Kyushu, way down south. Here in Tokyo the rocking was pretty bad (around a level 4 or 5, I'd say) and went on for something like a minute (which is unusual). On the sub channel NHK is still broadcasting the brief tsunami warning, in English, Chinese, Korean and Brazilian Portuguese, but it's about time they stopped. The biggest problem is that the quake was centered on Fukushima, which is still affected by the radiation scare from the damage to the nuclear power station in the previous big one. Orion
  25. If I live so long I will be celebrating yet another birthday next May. Hope to meet up with you guys (and guyesses? Still not too comfortable with the new format. In the meantime I have next Sunday to take care of. Orion