jranderson222

Fiction writer (and Sumo fan) looking for more insight into the life of a rikishi

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Hi All,

I've been a lurker on SumoForum for some time, and really appreciate all of the awesome info! I've been a big sumo fan since visiting Tokyo during the September basho a few years back. Relative to 99.9% of the English-speaking world (the residents of this forum being the .1%), I feel like I have a very good understanding of the sport. However, my understanding is all from the standpoint of a fan, who enjoys watching the basho, and reading whatever info I can get here, on the Tachiai blog, and other good sources online.

I'm in the early stages of starting work on my next novel, which will take place in the sumo world of the present day. There has been very little English-language fiction that's touched on the sport, and I am excited to tell a good story with a sumo heya as one of the featured locations. But...

As any writer worth their salt knows, you are best served when you "write what you know." While I'm confident I could convey the experience of an American writer who loves watching sumo with his two boys, I'm less confident I can write accurately about the life of a rikishi. Sure, I could make a list of things I "know" about life in sumo stable (They eat chanko! The lower-ranked sumo are subservient to the elders! They train hard! Younger rikishi are hazed!). But how that translates to the human psyche and emotions, and the REAL details of it all (Do they get tired of chanko? What is that relationship between the very top ranked rikishi and the upstarts really like? What kind of hazing happens? How do these guys meet women? How are they treated in public?) are still a mystery to me.

I've been reading a ton, and continue to amass more and more sources as I dive deeper, but short of taking a Tokyo-trip sabbatical from my day job (which provides more of my income than my writing), I'm not sure how to get to that next layer of understanding. I'd rather cop to what i DON'T know now, rather than write a book that feels inauthentic. I love the sport, and while I'll sink or swim based on whether my story is strong, I owe it to the sport to Get It Right, or at least to try.

If anyone has thoughts as to what I might read/watch/do, or believes they've spent enough time with and around the men living this life and would be willing to speak with me, please do let me know. You can reply here, or email me directly: jranderson222@gmail.com

I truly appreciate any help here! 

Best Regards,

Josh

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Jejima    246

I have about 10 various sumo books.  My favourite is my soft-back version of this book --> Grand Sumo Fully Illustrated.  (Some errors are in it, and it is slightly dated, but still a good read, and it is fully illustrated!) 

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Taikoubana    5
15 hours ago, Jejima said:

I have about 10 various sumo books.

May you enlighten us on the other 9 of your various sumo books? Would love to hear what other sumo fans keep around for reading material.

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Jejima    246

Most (all?) are currently in boxes in my parents' attic in the UK. (I am living in Hong Kong), so not easy to list. However, having met the lovely Mina Hall (she even gave me a T-shirt that matches the front cover), I should at least mention her very nice Big Book of Sumo.  https://www.amazon.com/Big-Book-Sumo-History-Practice/dp/1880656280

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Thank you so much, all, for the recommendations. I have many of these books, and ordered Mina Hall's book, which came the other day. My sons and I are really enjoying it!

Really appreciate the help!

Thank you,

Josh

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