Torideyama

Doreen Simmons' Passing

Recommended Posts

I had been offline for the past few days. This is immensely sad. 

せんぱいよ

にしをむかえる

おわかれだ

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Completely missed this thread, although I was aware of her passing. Yeah, she was the voice I remember most clearly when I first came out to Japan...listening to her vast knowledge passed confidently on. Met her a couple of times pottering around the Kokugikan and she was always up for a chat even though we weren't friends or anything. From what I've read of her, she was a very active person in many fields, and so had a full, rewarding life. Seemed like she would go on forever. RIP Doreen!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear of Doreen's passing. I learned so much from her comments on the NHK English sumo channel. She will be missed.

I did think she didn't sound her usual self when she was a guest with Hiro Morita during the March basho, but I didn't think it would be the last time I heard her voice. 

RIP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

It took me a while with life hectic, but my two cents. Doreen was an extraordinary person. Whenever I went to Japan, I met her at least once. She was such a great lady, cycling around Ryogoku, knowing nearly everyone she met. She took me to Dewanoumi beya to watch keiko and sat me next to the Oyakata. She lived right across the street in a small apartment overlooking that heya and was an honorable member of the heya's koenkai. I got to know her when I first went back in 1998 through the ML. She made it a point of showing me around Ryogoku-Takasago (then Wakamatsu) beya, Izutsu, Dewanoumi, Kirishima- everyone knew her. I brought her a tee shirt from the Holyland which she always wore when we met. A glaring pink one..she helped me track down the Jewish Argentinian rikishi Hoshitango so that I could give him some artifact I brought. She reserved my hotel for me every time I arrived. She got me the tickets to the basho as well. Whenever I sent her some friends who knew nothing about sumo, she would help them with tickets and even take them to keiko. She was an amateur musician and as such we shared that passion as well. And she knew the good restaurants around Ryogoku. Oh yes, and she could drink. She would drink a liter of beer without missing a beat and kept a cool head. I can't drink a liter of water, let alone beer.. She loved halva, and I used to bring her loads of it every time I came. On weekends we used to go together to the Kan and watch from Juryo. She taught me protocol and the Zabuton Bingo game, which she intensely disliked as it was against protocol, but still... She sent me an e-mail every Jewish holiday, inquiring about my health etc.. and any time she would spot an error I made (pretty much every week..). In summary, what a lady. What a loss to the sumo world.

 

1998-Mailing List chanko dinner at Teraou's brother's chanko joint

Chanko-3.JPG

Edited by Kintamayama
  • Like 18
  • Thanks 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kintamayama said:

She taught me protocol and the Zabuton Bingo game, which she intensely disliked as it was against protocol, but still...

Now I'm curious!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like a fascinating woman. God rest her soul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Jakusotsu said:

Now I'm curious!

Simple yet nerve-wracking. You arrive early, sit on a sunakaburi (ringside area) zabuton (cushion) and try to stay there as long as you can without the owner of the seat arriving/you being evicted by the Kokugikan ushers. When that happens, you move to another cushion and so on until either there are no more empty cushions or they bring someone who speaks English and you are politely yet firmly escorted to your "real" seat, obviously up in the nose-bleed bleachers close to the roof. The farthest I ever got was mid-Juryo.

Edited by Kintamayama
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I see. (Laughing...)

Guess I might have managed Juryo once, but I chickened out after the dohyo-iri and the lights went on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stayed once until a little after the Juryo dohyo-iri, when the Makushita joi were having their bouts. I then left to get to my upstairs seat. Looking down, I could see the box I had been in, still empty, and it stayed empty all through the end!

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, orandashoho said:

I could see the box I had been in, still empty

We were talking about ringside seats, not boxes. I usually managed to sneak into an unclaimed box almost every time (more than ten years ago, that is).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Jakusotsu said:

We were talking about ringside seats, not boxes. I usually managed to sneak into an unclaimed box almost every time (more than ten years ago, that is).

Doreen was willing to sit in those boxes with me during the lower division matches, but then made me go to my "real' seat as soon as Juryo was starting, taking time to meticulously tidy up the box for the real customers who would arrive later. Once we even sat one row directly under the Imperial Family who came for the day. I have some photos somewhere of that..

Edited by Kintamayama
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard the sad news only today, having not visited this forum since last basho. 

I never personally knew her so my words may not count for much, but nevertheless I feel that one of the giants of the English speaking sumo world has been lost. 

I always read everything she posted on this forum and each post was always extremely interesting and insightful, even if in my amateurishness I sometimes did not grasp the whole story. Even now it's weird to think that Orion will never post here again. 

May she rest in peace. 

Another obituary I found here. Glad to see that her life and work did not go unnoticed. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/?utm_term=.169c8c0633b0

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I went to Doreen's funeral and the church was packed out. I had no idea what to expect so I asked some people & Googled the proper etiquette etc beforehand but it seemed even the members of the religion Doreen was part of were in new territory as she requested the full traditional rites / service. That made me smile as Doreen was nothing if not a lover of archaic ceremony. The priests who had obviously never performed it that way before could be seen checking with each other that they were getting it right. Pretty much everything I had Googled was wrong too. The casket was opened part of the way through and everyone put flowers in with her. 

Talked about her with several people since. The point that I always find amazing is that she was so well known worldwide for her sumo involvement yet didn't move here or start doing anything with the sport until she was in her 40's.

She had a whole life before ever penning a single word about the sport.

Not many people can say they take something up in their fifth decade on the planet and become a noted expert.

Edited by John Gunning
  • Like 10
  • Thanks 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, John Gunning said:

I went to Doreen's funeral and the church was packed out. I had no idea what to expect so I asked some people & Googled the proper etiquette etc beforehand but it seemed even the members of the religion Doreen was part of were in new territory as she requested the full traditional rites / service. That made me smile as Doreen was nothing if not a lover of archaic ceremony. The priests who had obviously never performed it that way before could be seen checking with each other that they were getting it right. Pretty much everything I had Googled was wrong too. The casket was opened part of the way through and everyone put flowers in with her. 

 

Sounds like a fitting tribute for a remarkable human being

For what its worth from a relative newcomer to sumo, I very much appreciate both yours, and everyone else who had met her's insights into the life of someone who was always such a fascinating character (as well as simply being a fantastically informative commentator). I wish I could have known her too as all the stories here paint a picture of a warm, wonderful woman, who had a life well lived amongst the people and sport she loved.

RIP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2018 at 03:35, Kintamayama said:

Doreen was willing to sit in those boxes with me during the lower division matches, but then made me go to my "real' seat as soon as Juryo was starting, taking time to meticulously tidy up the box for the real customers who would arrive later. Once we even sat one row directly under the Imperial Family who came for the day. I have some photos somewhere of that..

A similar episode of seating etiquette I observed this basho was a Japanese man who likewise stole some time on an empty cushion near the ring until the real ticket holder came. As he got up, he flipped the cushion over so the patron would have a fresh, clean side to sit on. 

Edited by Kaninoyama

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Kaninoyama said:

As he got up, he flipped the cushion over so the patron would have a fresh, clean side to sit on. 

That wouldn't work so well with cushions that are bolted to the floor...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very sad news. We lost someone unique here. A alive open book of sumo. I met her during a basho abd she shared me a lot of knowledge. Rest in peace from france, you will be miss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BBC Radio 4 - Last Word

Julian Worricker on:

Beth Chatto, the gardener and writer regarded as one of the most influential horticulturists of the past 50 years

The multiple award-winning American novelist, PhilipRoth...author of Portnoy's Complaint and American Pastoral

Doreen Simmons, who moved to Japan in her forties and became an authority on sumo wrestling

Britain's first Muslim judge, Khurshid Drabu, described as a pioneer in promoting community cohesion

And June Milne, writer, publisher, and trusted guardian of the works of independent Ghana's first leader, Kwame Nkrumah.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now