John Gunning

Japan Times Sumo Column Request

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11 minutes ago, Kawabata said:

Another idea for a kind of "follow-up" article, I'd love to see an in-depth interview with Kyokutaisei now that he has debuted in Makuuchi as a kind of follow up to the "Normal Life" film (the ending of which made it seem very much like he was immediately leaving sumo). As a wrestler that was so extensively covered through that documentary, I think it'd be fascinating to know what happened after they finished filming (and also what he thought and thinks now of the portrayal) and what the rest of his journey to the top division was like. I hope I am right to assume that there are a fair few people that have followed him more closely than many other rikishi, and from earlier in his career, due to the film.

The ending of the original version was reshot. In the original version it looked like he was leaving Ozumo for good, but that would have given him a false image because he returned, after a very short time in fact. The title "A normal life" was changed to "Perseverance" which hits it on the nail, and the the tone was made a bit more upbeat by leaving out some negative scenes. I'm glad to have seen the old version though, the negative stuff does not detract from the achievement. Yes, I have a soft spot for him since I saw that documentary, which was brutally honest about the teenager's doubts and homesickness, his hatred of the chores, etc. and Oshima's disappointment. Each time he got into a promotable position was especially tense -- he is like a brother, having bared his soul; I cheer for him, rejoice with him, his promotion to Makuuchi feels like a vindication.

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2 hours ago, orandashoho said:

The ending of the original version was reshot. In the original version it looked like he was leaving Ozumo for good, but that would have given him a false image because he returned, after a very short time in fact. The title "A normal life" was changed to "Perseverance" which hits it on the nail, and the the tone was made a bit more upbeat by leaving out some negative scenes. I'm glad to have seen the old version though, the negative stuff does not detract from the achievement. Yes, I have a soft spot for him since I saw that documentary, which was brutally honest about the teenager's doubts and homesickness, his hatred of the chores, etc. and Oshima's disappointment. Each time he got into a promotable position was especially tense -- he is like a brother, having bared his soul; I cheer for him, rejoice with him, his promotion to Makuuchi feels like a vindication.

Ah thank you for this, I was not aware, I've only seen the version with the "false" ending. Do you know where the other is available? I'd very much like to see it (I've tried googling "perseverance sumo" but got some very unrelated results...). I very much enjoyed all the rest of that documentary otherwise, but the ending I saw definitely felt wrong. I only wish the documentary covered more time, but really thats a very unrealistic wish anyway, hence my desire for a follow up in some way.

I absolutely agree that his promotion to Makuuchi feels like a vindication, I feel a weird sense of pride in him even! 

 

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Posted (edited)

Not sure if this is the version I mean -- the other links are not valid anymore, these videos were probably removed for copyright reasons.

Edited by orandashoho

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3 hours ago, orandashoho said:

Not sure if this is the version I mean -- the other links are not valid anymore, these videos were probably removed for copyright reasons.

Thanks, I'll check it out to compare, I was planning on a re-watch anyway :)

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More topic suggestions:

Heya culture/differences.  Why are some small, some big, some collegiate, some still middle school recruits.  The whys of these things, in particular.  Izutsu is of particular interest just because it seems odd for reasons that aren't widely known.

Recruitment in general: how it's done, why rikishi choose particular heya or how much some need to get talked into it.  Are rikishi seeking heya or the other way around?

Amasumo: corporate teams, the 'big' high schools, universities.  What's the life of a corporate amasumo guy like? How does high school choice work in Japan, and how do the big schools get the good atheletes?  What incentives are offered at the university level? What happens to the university guys that don't make it: do they get a good enough education to get a proper job?

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I apologize if you already did this and I missed it, but have you written a tribute column about Doreen and her life in sumo? Gaijin woman comes to Japan and endsup with a plae in the male bastion of sumo?

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On 5/15/2018 at 13:08, orandashoho said:

Not sure if this is the version I mean -- the other links are not valid anymore, these videos were probably removed for copyright reasons.

This is the version with the same ending I'd seen before (where he quits) -  thanks for the help though. I shall continue my hunt, I may try and track down a DVD next

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Posted (edited)

One question that came to me while watching the lower divisions this basho. It's been said that the core of sumo is found in the daily practice, not so much the honbasho competition. Is there any tangible effect of this inside stables - specifically, are there significant numbers of rikishi who enjoy the "practice lifestyle" (for lack of a better word) and stick around for that, but who consider the actual competing just a necessary evil? And how are such rikishi seen by others in the sumo world (fellow rikishi, shisho, etc.)? Is it more accepted/acceptable if the rikishi in question fills some vital role in the heya, e.g. as the head cook, or does he just have to be a nice guy?

Or asked another way - how important do people actually in the sumo world feel it is to strive for banzuke advancement, as opposed to personal improvement? Most of us fans obviously treat the banzuke as the sole barometer.

Edited by Asashosakari
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On 5/19/2018 at 10:13, Asashosakari said:

One question that came to me while watching the lower divisions this basho. It's been said that the core of sumo is found in the daily practice, not so much the honbasho competition. Is there any tangible effect of this inside stables - specifically, are there significant numbers of rikishi who enjoy the "practice lifestyle" (for lack of a better word) and stick around for that, but who consider the actual competing just a necessary evil? And how are such rikishi seen by others in the sumo world (fellow rikishi, shisho, etc.)? Is it more accepted/acceptable if the rikishi in question fills some vital role in the heya, e.g. as the head cook, or does he just have to be a nice guy?

Or asked another way - how important do people actually in the sumo world feel it is to strive for banzuke advancement, as opposed to personal improvement? Most of us fans obviously treat the banzuke as the sole barometer.

Interesting questions. In the past I’ve often wondered if the appeal of sumo is similar in a way to how the military life is attractive to certain people. I suppose the extension of that is what you touch upon there: guys who do sumo for the lifestyle and who don’t necessarily see themselves as athletes competing to win, the way a soldier may be in the army for love of the corp d’esprit and barrack life, not a desire to go to war. 

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