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NHK Commentator Kariya Retires

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Longtime NHK commentator Fujio Kariya has retired as of April 30th (Japan time) from being one of the voices that we get to hear during the sumo broadcasts, having reached the age of 60. He will be moving into a second career job as a sports producer for Tachihi Holdings Group starting May 1st. Below are some excerpts from Nikkan's interview with Mr. Kariya.

Q. You are leaving on April 30th, tell us how you feel.

"I'm getting emotional about having worked 38 years. It was my dream as an NHK announcer to do commentating for a Japanese gold medal scene at the Olympics, and I'm glad I was able to achieve that."

Q. What were the gold medal winners that you announced for

"I got to commentate on the 2004 Athens Men's Gymnastics team, and for Shizuka Arawaka who won gold in figure skating at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Both parties were not favored gold, and many said it was impossible for them to do it. For the men's gymnastics, China was favored. When it was Arakawa, Sasha Cohen and Irina Slutskaya were the gold medal favorites."

Q. As an announcer these are the gold medal memories that come to mind?

"Yes, definitely these two. I'm glad my dream was achieved."

Q. You also announced sumo for a long time

"I was involved with sumo for about 35 years. I couldn't imagine how much it would change from then. I started during the Chiyonofuji era, got to see Waka-Taka, the Hawaiians, the Mongolians, and the Europeans bring about a new era of sumo. It's quite unbelievable and never saw it coming. Afterwards Endo and Kisenosato made things exciting too. I've seen peaks in sumo popularity and also bad times twice. When I started announcing 35 years ago, violence in sumo was common knowledge, but things have changed drastically. I've been deeply connected with the sport and feel a love for it too. It is popular right now but those who strive to compete are becoming fewer and fewer. My hope is that they will hold an annual amateur tournament for international wrestlers."

Q. What is your most memorable match

"The 1988 Kyushu senshuraku match between Chiyonofuji and Onokuni. It was when Chiyonofuji's 53 match streak was stopped. Back then I was still a lower ranked person in the announcers group. So my sempai's got to work on the Chiyonofuji side of the ring while I got assigned to interview Onokuni. There was nobody in the west side of the hanamichi, so I was able to get halfway to the dohyo to watch the action. And then Onokuni won, and the zabutons were flying. Onokuni came back into the darkened walkway, and I could see that he was so white. His lips were blue and his face was pale. Seeing that, I realized to myself that this is truly sumo. A person who trains for so many years will pour so much of their spirit into one match that is so important. This is what impressed me so much about sumo, and no wonder that people are still interested in the sport after 1500 years. When he walked up to me, I asked him 'How was it?' to which he was not able to answer because he was still excited and having an adrenaline rush. After a little bit, his response was 'I've been called a weak yokozuna, so I'm very glad to have won!'"

https://www.nikkansports.com/battle/sumo/news/202004290000668.html

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Otsukaresama!  (Bow...)A very familiar voice and face in Ozumo broadcasting, always my favorite NHK guy. 

What a kariya he had...(Noddingyes...)

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The Onokuni story is wonderful. Thanks, OP!

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