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Otokonoyama

"Japanese way"

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Again, very very interesting. All other considerations apart, the Kyokai has shown a very (how can I say) "traditional" approach to this case; they seem to have thought: here is a punishment, the man will pay for it, Takasago will manage it, fullstop. They seem to have been completely caught off guards by the evolution (Asashoryu's nervous breakdown or whatever it is), and this can be understood. After 15 days though it seems that not only have they done nothing to come out of the situation, but (what is worse) they do not have any ideas on what must be done. To my western eyes this looks very bad for a structure that is supposed to manage so important a business. Now very slow moves start to be performed: statements that say "we would like to have Asashoryu back", "his attendance at the funeral would be appreciated" and similar. But they are still very slow.... Is it because their way of approaching problems is very rigid ? Let me give an example: Takasago is not dependable and he doesn't seem to say and do anything intelligent ? OK. Then I am Kitanoumi and I want to see what the problem is with my eyes. I go to Asashoryu myself and tell Asashoryu directly how the situation is. Do the Kyokai really want Asashoryu back and maybe it would be a good idea to send the man to Mongolia ? What big difference does it make after all ? New meeting, new decision: considering the situation, he can go to Mongolia. And so on. How the hell can a situation like this be left without any decision ? I appreciate very much that in the end this is "clearly" stated by the Minister !!!

I don't know you or your situation, but it may be useful for you to read, study, and find out more about Japan in general, and the "Japanese way". It may be helpful in comprehending sumo, and this situation, more clearly.

Edited by Otokonoyama

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....

I don't know you or your situation, but it may be useful for you to read, study, and find out more about Japan in general, and the "Japanese way". It may be helpful in comprehending sumo, and this situation, more clearly.

I thank you for your kind advice that I will immediately follow, and I will post something again only when I am ready. If I understand your point correctly, it might take me years. Not bad anyway: if decisions are made up with this speed, when I come back the situation will be probably the same as now...

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It may be useful to read, study, and find out more about Japan in general, and the "Japanese way". It may be helpful in comprehending sumo, and this situation, more clearly.

That's not a "may be", that's a fact.

(I am going off-topic...)

Good way to do that is reading one of the most important authors for japanologists and students- Chie Nakane

Here some of her books on Amazon

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I thank you for your kind advice that I will immediately follow, and I will post something again only when I am ready. If I understand your point correctly, it might take me years. Not bad anyway: if decisions are made up with this speed, when I come back the situation will be probably the same as now...

You are welcome to post anytime and most anything you like - same goes for all members. It just appears to me that part of the problem you have understanding the most recent scandal with Asashoryu and the Kyokai's response could be due to a lack of understanding of Japan in general. One of the really good things about Sumo Forum is that you can get the perspectives of several Japanese members, as well as many who are living and who have lived in Japan. Not to mention those who have and are studying the language and culture from afar.

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At least Asashoryu isn't killing dogs in his spare time. Sorry, that was very off topic, but still somewhat related. To show the difference between Japan and the US and their views on the major sport in their country, many people have been speculating that the NFL will allow Vick to play when he gets out of jail, if he pleads guilty or is found guilty. He may get more punishment from the NFL for gambling on fighting dogs than for doing the actual dog-fighting itself. This is because there is no rule in the NFL books about dog-fighting, but there is one about gambling.

To that end, maybe the Kyokai needs to start putting some of these vague "rules" down on paper. I've heard plenty of people that suffer from "The Japanese Way" when they go to Japan. They get scolded, or ridiculed, or embarrassed for doing things incorrectly, but are not told what to do. Instead, they are told "Its just not the way things are done.", with no suggestion on how to improve themselves.

That being said, I think that Asa has been around long enough to know that jungyo tours are a big deal, and can't plead ignorance in the situation.

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Again, very very interesting. All other considerations apart, the Kyokai has shown a very (how can I say) "traditional" approach to this case; they seem to have thought: here is a punishment, the man will pay for it, Takasago will manage it, fullstop. They seem to have been completely caught off guards by the evolution (Asashoryu's nervous breakdown or whatever it is), and this can be understood. After 15 days though it seems that not only have they done nothing to come out of the situation, but (what is worse) they do not have any ideas on what must be done. To my western eyes this looks very bad for a structure that is supposed to manage so important a business. Now very slow moves start to be performed: statements that say "we would like to have Asashoryu back", "his attendance at the funeral would be appreciated" and similar. But they are still very slow.... Is it because their way of approaching problems is very rigid ? Let me give an example: Takasago is not dependable and he doesn't seem to say and do anything intelligent ? OK. Then I am Kitanoumi and I want to see what the problem is with my eyes. I go to Asashoryu myself and tell Asashoryu directly how the situation is. Do the Kyokai really want Asashoryu back and maybe it would be a good idea to send the man to Mongolia ? What big difference does it make after all ? New meeting, new decision: considering the situation, he can go to Mongolia. And so on. How the hell can a situation like this be left without any decision ? I appreciate very much that in the end this is "clearly" stated by the Minister !!!

I don't know you or your situation, but it may be useful for you to read, study, and find out more about Japan in general, and the "Japanese way". It may be helpful in comprehending sumo, and this situation, more clearly.

Japan is a country where most people don't say what they mean.

This pretty much summarizes the "Japanese Way"

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Japan is a country where most people don't say what they mean.

This pretty much summarizes the "Japanese Way"

Certainly indirectness is de rigueur in Japan. IMO with experience you can learn to understand the message quite clearly.

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I don't know you or your situation, but it may be useful for you to read, study, and find out more about Japan in general, and the "Japanese way". It may be helpful in comprehending sumo, and this situation, more clearly.

Unlike many of our more knowledgeable members (or moderators), I'm quite reluctant to justify everything that happens in sumo as a regular, perfectly normal event in terms of the "Japanese way", or obviously inherent to the spirit of Sumo. It seems like any decision by the Kyokai would've been approved by the bulk of the posters in this forum, on the basis that that is how decisions are made in Japan, and in sumo. The basic principle I don't want to dispute, and no-one is saying that there should be a more "democratic" process involved in decision-making. This doesn't mean, however, that the NSK (or whoever the precise decision-making body is) can't make mistakes. It seems to have put itself in a very awkward situation, in my opinion because of the desire to decide (too) rapidly.

Things have, quite obviously, gone way out of hand. The initial purpose was to show a firm hand, a proper response to a major faux-pas by the Yokozuna. So far so good, and a heavy penalty is something I would've felt perfectly natural. Roho's three day suspension, from criminally-reprehensible behavior, was too light, but the distance from that to suspension for two basho is pretty huge. Ex-Yokozuna Kitanofuji himself received a much lesser penalty, for surfing right after going kyujo on an ongoing basho (as mentioned earlier in the thread) ; while I understand that jungyo should be considered as important as honbasho, I don't think it's MORE important, justifying such a difference in treatment.

As far as I know, no hints of pressure for Asa to go intai were given, and I don't think anyone suggested that the suspension was a roundabout way for the kyokai to ask for asa's retirement. Had that been the case, any punishment would've seemed proper, a simple message that it was time for him to go. But in the current circumstances, I can't help but think that the whole thing boils down to an excessive decision made in haste.

If Asashoryu really does leave sumo - which I really wouldn't have thought possible when this thread began, but begins to look likely now - this story will leave a scar on sumo. Not because of the fact that Asa will have left (there have been other yokozuna in the past and there will be many more), but because the Kyokai will have shown its inability to properly handle a serious situation.

That's why I think a lot of people feel pretty uncomfortable about this whole thing ; it feels like something which got out of hand somehow, spread without any control, and will have, on the way, caused the (excessive) loss of a brilliant rikishi and deprived us of the pleasure of watching some of the most enjoyable sumo I've seen in the last few years. The responsibility, of course, is shared - Asashoryu should be standing up and acting like a Yokozuna, but he clearly feels that the brutality of the punishment was unfair, and must be wondering what he's doing in a place where all the efforts he's made through the years seem to have brought him no sympathy, and no support at this difficult time.

I come back just for a minute, because I saw somebody else maintain more or less the same opinions that I have and that I could more or less fully subscribe. Now I have just realized that he is italian like me.... It must be because we are so romantic and sentimental .... But we understand so little ....

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Japan is a country where most people don't say what they mean.

This pretty much summarizes the "Japanese Way"

Or not say anything at all and another understanding what they mean. Japan being long ethnically and culturally homogenious, the people were born, grew up and lived together the whole their life in more or less one place.

They could pretty much figure out what one another without vocalizing and expressing it. Many expect you understand them without them telling you what exactly they wanted to be done. It is like everyone is your extended family member. It is uniquely Japanese way of communication. Or it may have been an inevitable technique to live all in harmony in a crowded society.

It still happens a lot. For example a government minister in trouble is called in by the prime minister to see him at his office. The PM might say he appreciates all his efforts etc but he will never come out and asks him to tend his resignation. Obviously the minister is receiving some signals from the PM's office but the point is that he has to understand and submits the resignation willingly. It is understood.

It is the essence of Ozumo as well. When two rikishi face each other on the dohyo and jump out of the shikiri, it isn't by the gyoji's signal or any other action by a third party. The gyoji is only a facillitator. Two rikishi get up and start the combat by all themselves with what is commonly known as "Ah-Unn No Kokyu" or "The breathing of Ah-Unn". The rikishi are required to "harmonize" their breathing with one another and give utmost consideration to each other so ideally they can cleanly excute the start.

"Ah-Unn" comes from Sanscrit word "A-hum". "Ah" part is when you are opening your mouth wide open and saying "Ah" while "Unn" is when you close your mouth and say "Unn". If you are ever in a Japanese temple or shrine or have seen pictures of them, you may notice two statues of creatures looking like wild dogs guarding the entrance. If you look closely, one is opening its mouth and the other is closing the mouth. This is what "Ah-Unn" is in the actual form. One is breathing with his mouth open while the other is closing but still in one form, synchronizing with each other and in harmony.

In amateur sumo with athletes from diverse nations and background involved, the organizers from the very beginning realized it was never possible at all for all to comform to the Ah-Unn of Breathing so they simply don't do it. In amateur sumo their bout is started by the "gyoji" official.

In Ozumo now with many foreign born rikishi as well as college graduated rikishi not fully understanding the custom , it is getting increasingly difficult to enforce the proper tachiai. Smaller rikishi will always try to take advantage by sprinting out first so we have more Matta than in olden days. However this tachiai is what really separates Ozumo from amateur sumo and Kyokai officials try hard to hammer this point when rikishi first join Ozumo as they get new recruits to repeatedly practice tachiai techniques at their learner clinic.

In short, the Ah-Unn of Breathing is the very essence of Ozumo.

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Great Info! That Ah Unn-Stuff

Thanks a lot. (Yucky...)

I remember the World Championship well. The Japanese amateurs (in those days it was still Ichihara) trying Ah Unn-Tachi ai but the others were waiting for the Gyoji...many false starts happened cause of that. Real Tachi ai is so much better.

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In amateur sumo with athletes from diverse nations and background involved, the organizers from the very beginning realized it was never possible at all for all to comform to the Ah-Unn of Breathing so they simply don't do it. In amateur sumo their bout is started by the "gyoji" official.

Actually that's a common misinterpretation. It's been like that in amateur sumo in Japan for a long time, and well before any foreign amatuer associations were started.

It is uspposed to be like that in international competitions, unless of course one of the athletes is Japanese and the shushin (gyoji) is also Japanese. In that case often the Japanese athlete starts just before the shushin says "hakkeyoi" (Yucky...) Apparently it is due to superior hearing (an excuse used before, I kid you not).

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