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WANNAakkaido

Foreign Born Rikishi?

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I am sorry if this has been asked before but is there a list of current rikishi that are foreign born somewhere? I am really interested. 

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Just a few things to take note when asking about "foreign-born" rikishi. It almost literally means "born outside Japan" (except in one case), and does not mean "non-Japanese":

  1. By default, there can only be as many "foreign-born" rikishi in sumo as there are heya, since each heya is only allowed to recruit one foreigner. However, this rule is bypassed in the case of heya mergers, which is how Kasugano ended up with both Aoiyama and Tochinoshin - Tochinoshin was the original recruit, and Aoiyama joined as a result of the old Tagonoura heya closure.
  2. This is not an exhaustive listing of non/partially-Japanese rikishi. There are many rikishi with partially foreign ancestry that, if they were born in Japan itself, are considered Japanese despite being part-foreign. Good examples include the half-Filipino sekitori Mitakeumi from Nagano and Takayasu from Ibaraki, and in the lower divisions, the half-Turkish Hagiwara from Hokkaido (Naruto) and the half-Mongolian Senho from Chiba (Miyagino).
  3. By extension to point 2, there are non-ethnically Japanese rikishi who are not considered foreign-born as they grew up in Japan itself and provided a Japanese shusshin to the NSK when they joined. Current examples include Kirameki (Asahiyama), who's ethnically Bolivian but lists Aichi as his shusshin, and Hokuseiho (Miyagino), who's ethnically Mongolian but lists Hokkaido in his shusshin. The famous puroresu Rikidozan was ethnically Korean but claimed to have been adopted by a Japanese family and listed Nagasaki as his shusshin. One blender of this rule is the half-Filipino Masunoyama, who was technically born in the Philippines but moved when he was one month old, and lists Aichi as his shusshin.
  4. A (thus far unique) counterpoint to 2 and 3 would be Kaisei (Tomozuna), who is sansei-Japanese (third-generation) from Brazil, and is listed as a foreign-born rikishi. In theory, other san/yonsei-Japanese from South America and the Western United States (Hawaii, California) would also be considered foreign-born, even though they have part-Japanese ancestry.
  5. Subsequently taking Japanese citizenship used to, but no longer, erases the foreign-born status. Kyokushuho (Mongolian) was allowed to join Oshima heya in 2007 despite Oshima already being home to Kyokutenho at the time, since Kyokutenho had become a naturalised Japanese citizen two years prior. Hence, Miyagino stable has two Mongolian recruits which list Japanese shusshin; they cannot recruit further foreign recruits because of Hakuho. It's speculated that Hakuho's nephew, currently doing sumo in a Japanese university, is slated to join Miyagino after Hakuho retires.
Edited by Seiyashi
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18 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Just a few things to take note when asking about "foreign-born" rikishi. It almost literally means "born outside Japan" (except in one case), and does not mean "non-Japanese":

  1. By default, there can only be as many "foreign-born" rikishi in sumo as there are heya, since each heya is only allowed to recruit one foreigner. However, this rule is bypassed in the case of heya mergers, which is how Kasugano ended up with both Aoiyama and Tochinoshin - Tochinoshin was the original recruit, and Aoiyama joined as a result of the old Tagonoura heya closure.
  2. This is not an exhaustive listing of non/partially-Japanese rikishi. There are many rikishi with partially foreign ancestry that, if they were born in Japan itself, are considered Japanese despite being part-foreign. Good examples include the half-Filipino sekitori Mitakeumi from Nagano and Takayasu from Ibaraki, and in the lower divisions, the half-Turkish Hagiwara from Hokkaido (Naruto) and the half-Mongolian Senho from Chiba (Miyagino).
  3. By extension to point 2, there are non-ethnically Japanese rikishi who are not considered foreign-born as they grew up in Japan itself and provided a Japanese shusshin to the NSK when they joined. Current examples include Kirameki (Asahiyama), who's ethnically Bolivian but lists Aichi as his shusshin, and Hokuseiho (Miyagino), who's ethnically Mongolian but lists Hokkaido in his shusshin. The famous puroresu Rikidozan was ethnically Korean but claimed to have been adopted by a Japanese family and listed Nagasaki as his shusshin. One blender of this rule is the half-Filipino Masunoyama, who was technically born in the Philippines but moved when he was one month old, and lists Aichi as his shusshin.
  4. A (thus far unique) counterpoint to 2 and 3 would be Kaisei (Tomozuna), who is nisei-Japanese (second-generation) from Brazil, and is listed as a foreign-born rikishi. In theory, other nisei-Japanese from South America and the Western United States (Hawaii, California) would also be considered foreign-born, even though they have part-Japanese ancestry.
  5. Subsequently taking Japanese citizenship used to, but no longer, erases the foreign-born status. Kyokushuho (Mongolian) was allowed to join Oshima heya in 2007 despite Oshima already being home to Kyokutenho at the time, since Kyokutenho had become a naturalised Japanese citizen two years prior. Hence, Miyagino stable has two Mongolian recruits which list Japanese shusshin; they cannot recruit further foreign recruits because of Hakuho. It's speculated that Hakuho's nephew, currently doing sumo in a Japanese university, is slated to join Miyagino after Hakuho retires.

And also, I don't know where I read it and not 100% sure if it's true, but if you are born in a foreign country but came here as a child (i.e. Hokuseiho), you need to have stayed in Japan for 10 years prior to you joining to claim Japanese shusshin. So like since Hokuseiho is 18, and has been in Japan since he was 4/5, he clears this requirement. Also, is there any news of Hakuho's nephew doing well in university sumo? Or is he just going in fresh? Because if he makes maezumo at 22, that would be very unwise. 

Edited by pricklypomegranate

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2 hours ago, WANNAakkaido said:

I am sorry if this has been asked before but is there a list of current rikishi that are foreign born somewhere? I am really interested. 

Foreign-born rikishi in the 2020 yearbook are shown on my A-Z pages if you select 'Rikishi by shusshin' at the top of the page and then scroll down to 'The rest of the world' in the left-hand list.

There is also a section for all foreigners under 'Special Categories' --> 'Foreigners'.

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6 minutes ago, pricklypomegranate said:

And also, I don't know where I read it and not 100% if it's true, but if you are born in a foreign country but came here as a child (i.e. Hokuseiho), you need to have stayed in Japan for 10 years prior to you joining to claim Japanese shusshin. So like since Hokuseiho is 18, and has been in Japan since he was 4/5, he clears this requirement. Also, is there any news of Hakuho's nephew doing well in university sumo? Or is he just going in fresh? Because if he makes maezumo at 22, that would be very unwise. 

If the 10-year rule is true (sounds like it makes sense although the exact number may vary), then it seems to be only a one-way street and works only to exclude full foreign-born foreigners. There is a half-Polish journeyman rikishi, Tsuyukusa, who while born in Japan spent most of his childhood in Poland, came back to Japan to complete his university education, then went back to Poland for a while before becoming a rikishi. That said, there's so few data points that any surmises made here are most likely over-fitting. I can't find official English information on this, and my Japanese is not good enough to trawl the necessary sources. 

Re Hakuho's nephew: freshman at Doshisha university now, implied to be doing sumo well enough to appear at the West Japan competition, and apparently, slated to graduate in 2-3 years' time. 

Completely off-topic, but on looking at the manga for new entrants, this interesting Q&A caught my eye: (How was Hakuho like as a shin-deshi?)

image.png.c716867ad633f271ee6740609ecc398a.png

 

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20 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Re Hakuho's nephew: freshman at Doshisha university now, implied to be doing sumo well enough to appear at the West Japan competition, and apparently, slated to graduate in 2-3 years' time. 

20 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Completely off-topic, but on looking at the manga for new entrants, this interesting Q&A caught my eye: (How was Hakuho like as a shin-deshi?)

Yes, he is good enough to enter a competition, but does not seem to be good enough to enter via makushita or sandanme tsukidashi. Not that it's set in stone of course - one could hope he could pull an Asanoyama and really rock it in the last couple of years. And also, of course tsukedashi is not needed, but I am still not feeling the confidence - Hakuho's had luck with uni graduates so far, but those were tsukedashi or rocket launchers. 

I like how that box literally provides recruits no new or inside information about Hakuho as a shin-deshi, especially the general last two sentences (Laughing...) Surely if you are planning to enter sumo, you would know that Hakuho came in at 70kg, that's literally beaten into everyone's skull during those sumo programs. 

Edited by pricklypomegranate

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6 minutes ago, pricklypomegranate said:

Yes, he is good enough to enter a competition, but does not seem to be good enough to enter via makushita or sandanme tsukidashi. Not that it's set in stone of course - one could hope he could pull an Asanoyama and really rock it in the last coupled of years. And also, of course tsukedashi is not needed, but I am still not feeling the confidence... 

I like how that box literally provides recruits no new or inside information about Hakuho as a shin-deshi, especially the general last tow sentences (Laughing...) Surely if you are planning to enter sumo, you would know that Hakuho came in at 70kg, that's literally beaten into everyone's skull during those sumo programs. 

As you said, he still has a few years to do it.

In any case, if you're really good, the tsukedashi numbers don't make much of a difference in the long run; straight 7-0s or 6-1s are almost guaranteed to get you promoted each time up to makushita anyway, so you save maybe at most 3-4 bashos. Also, if you peak too early, you end up with a Shodai case where despite becoming amateur yokozuna in his second year, he forwent tsukedashi status because he wanted to complete four years of university and missed the one-year grace period to enter as makushita tsukedashi.

It's arguable that the extra training and conditioning from entering at the bottom does add something to your sumo. Going up too fast seems also to be a bit of a jinx; the notable entrants into makuuchi with zanbara - Mitakeumi, Ichinojo and Endo - all ended up misfiring for one reason or another.

Edited by Seiyashi

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3 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

Just a few things to take note when asking about "foreign-born" rikishi. It almost literally means "born outside Japan" (except in one case), and does not mean "non-Japanese":

Foreign born is born as a foreigner, for Japan the location of birth is irrelevant. In sumo terms, which are relevant for us, it means not of Japanese shusshin. What other shusshin someone also may have is interesting, but the shusshin from Japan always dominates and only 1 shusshin is the official one. Hardly any rikishi will give up his Japan shusshin and insist to change it to his main nationality.

When Hokuseiho makes it to sekitori, we may learn if he actually has the Japanese nationality or is just treated as of Japanese shusshin. In his case, obtaining it would not take long, but what if he does not and retires as ex-ozeki, intending to stay? For being oyakata, not the shusshin, but the nationality is important.

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9 minutes ago, Akinomaki said:

Foreign born is born as a foreigner, for Japan the location of birth is irrelevant. In sumo terms, which are relevant for us, it means not of Japanese shusshin. What other shusshin someone also may have is interesting, but the shusshin from Japan always dominates and only 1 shusshin is the official one. Hardly any rikishi will give up his Japan shusshin and insist to change it to his main nationality.

When Hokuseiho makes it to sekitori, we may learn if he actually has the Japanese nationality or is just treated as of Japanese shusshin. In his case, obtaining it would not take long, but what if he does not and retires as ex-ozeki, intending to stay? For being oyakata, not the shusshin, but the nationality is important.

That's a good point. My impression has been that foreign nationals with a Japanese shusshin are a relatively recent phenomenon, so the hypothetical of a Japanese-shusshin but non-Japanese national oyakata has not yet come to pass. But it does make much clearer the fact that there is a distinction between shusshin, which is the criteria by which heya are allowed to only have one non-Japanese-shusshin rikishi, and nationality, which is the criteria for joining the NSK as an oyakata after retirement.

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With Hokuseiho, another thing to consider that if he has the 'typical' ozeki career and retires in 15 years, how will the view of naturalization of assimilation change within Japan?

Of course oozumo is very traditional but there's always a chance for lightning fast changes. What influence will Hakuho have? In 15 years maybe he'll be forced out like Takanohana or maybe be very powerful.

Already half of our managing officers are born outside of Japan (some getting citizenship), 15 years ago it was basically zero.

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Why is there a one foreigner per Heya rule in place? Is it only because of strong nationality beliefs in Japan? Do you think the rules will ever change?

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33 minutes ago, WANNAakkaido said:

Why is there a one foreigner per Heya rule in place? Is it only because of strong nationality beliefs in Japan? Do you think the rules will ever change?

It used to be 2 per heya.

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35 minutes ago, WANNAakkaido said:

Why is there a one foreigner per Heya rule in place? Is it only because of strong nationality beliefs in Japan? Do you think the rules will ever change?

I believe the official excuse for not allowing as many foreigners to join as might want to is to preserve Japanese culture.  Sumo has connections with Shinto, which is part of overall Japanese culture.  Apparently the susshin is a substitute for whether they have been Japonified enough to not have the elders be worried that they will be an undue influence on changing the culture of Sumo.

Edited by Gurowake

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I believe that currently 24 heya have one or more rikishi with foreign shusshin, and 20 do not ( including the Gagamaru-less Kisebeya)

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As a part of this topic.....where do foreign born rikishi get their Japanese names from? Not referring to their shikona, specifically but their full Japanese name? For example, Terunofuji is known as Terunofuji Haruo - where does the "Haruo" part come from? Is it an adopted family name? Made up? Given to them? Thanks!

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Terunofuji's case in particular - likely that he adopted the given name of his sponsor. If you look at his keshomawashi from last basho's yusho portrait, you can see the donor's name at the bottom, and it includes the same kanji as his shikona's given name.

Asashoryu's given name, Akinori, is the kun-yomi (native) reading of the Meitoku kanji of his high school, Meitoku Gijuku, being the characters for "brightness/clarity" and "virtue".

Osunaarashi was given a very traditional Japanese name, Kintaro, to offset his foreignness.

Konishiki's given name, Yasokichi, comes with together with the shikona. Konishiki is the fourth to bear that name, IIRC.

Kaisei's given name, Ichiro, is the name of his late Japanese grandfather (who emigrated to Brazil - Kaisei is third-generation Japanese-Brazilian).

The first English rikishi, Hidenokuni Hajime, was given his given name to indicate he was the first from England. (His shikona is also a pun on the kanji for England).

So basically all the possibilities you list are possibilities, and it's generally only more notable when there's a reason.

Edited by Seiyashi
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40 minutes ago, Seiyashi said:

Terunofuji's case in particular - likely that he adopted the given name of his sponsor. If you look at his keshomawashi from last basho's yusho portrait, you can see the donor's name at the bottom, and it includes the same kanji as his shikona's given name.

Asashoryu's given name, Akinori, is the kun-yomi (native) reading of the Meitoku kanji of his high school, Meitoku Gijuku, being the characters for "brightness/clarity" and "virtue".

Osunaarashi was given a very traditional Japanese name, Kintaro, to offset his foreignness.

Konishiki's given name, Yasokichi, comes with together with the shikona. Konishiki is the fourth to bear that name, IIRC.

Kaisei's given name, Ichiro, is the name of his late Japanese grandfather (who emigrated to Brazil - Kaisei is third-generation Japanese-Brazilian).

The first English rikishi, Hidenokuni Hajime, was given his given name to indicate he was the first from England. (His shikona is also a pun on the kanji for England).

So basically all the possibilities you list are possibilities, and it's generally only more notable when there's a reason.

Thats actually really awesome! There's so many interesting stories there; something that would be an interesting series in and of itself. Thanks very much!

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9 minutes ago, cyclonicleo said:

Thats actually really awesome! There's so many interesting stories there; something that would be an interesting series in and of itself. Thanks very much!

The stories aren't limited to foreign-born rikishi either. Japanese rikishi do change the given name component of their full shikona name from time to time, for various reasons too (to honour deceased coaches, for a change in fortune, etc). But a lot also go through their career using their birth given name. 

For example, Enho's original name was Nakamura Yuya. He went by Enho Yuya for a while, but switched to Enho Akira to honour an ex-coach who died in a motorbike accident.

Shikoroyama-oyakata went as Terao Setsuo in his early career, Setsuo being essentially the male version of his mother's name, Setsuko. He switched to Genjiyama Rikisaburo (yes, the same Rikisaburo as in Kakuryu's shikona, not sure if there's a Izutsu tradition here) for one tournament but switched back to Terao Setsuo after that, and then switched to his final Terao Tsunefumi on the advice of a fortune teller.

More recently, Takagenji's given name, Satoshi, went from one kanji to two (but keeping the same reading). The added character was stated by Chiganoura-oyakata to come from "bushi", warrior, and he hoped that would lend Takagenji some strength as he rebooted his sekitori career. 

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11 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

Shikoroyama-oyakata went as Terao Setsuo in his early career, Setsuo being essentially the male version of his mother's name, Setsuko. He switched to Genjiyama Rikisaburo (yes, the same Rikisaburo as in Kakuryu's shikona, not sure if there's a Izutsu tradition here) for one tournament but switched back to Terao Setsuo after that, and then switched to his final Terao Tsunefumi on the advice of a fortune teller.

You forget another detail about Terao's shikona. That was his mother's maiden name. She had passed away before he joined sumo.

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5 minutes ago, WAKATAKE said:

You forget another detail about Terao's shikona. That was his mother's maiden name. She had passed away before he joined sumo.

I left it out because we were discussing the given-name portion of the shikona, but yes; that's one of the shikona that pay tribute to a deceased relative/important person.

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On 18/11/2020 at 18:21, Seiyashi said:

Good examples include the half-Filipino sekitori Mitakeumi from Nagano and Takayasu from Ibaraki.

Was surprised to discover that Takagenji and his recently exiled twin brother are also half-Filipino. 

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43 minutes ago, Kaninoyama said:

Was surprised to discover that Takagenji and his recently exiled twin brother are also half-Filipino. 

I'd be interested in the forum members thoughts as to whether that was a contributing factor to him being forced out. 

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12 minutes ago, Mightyduck said:

I'd be interested in the forum members thoughts as to whether that was a contributing factor to him being forced out. 

I think his repeated episodes of unacceptable behavior had far more to do with his exit from sumo than his ethnicity. 

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2 hours ago, Kaninoyama said:
2 hours ago, Mightyduck said:

I'd be interested in the forum members thoughts as to whether that was a contributing factor to him being forced out. 

I think his repeated episodes of unacceptable behavior had far more to do with his exit from sumo than his ethnicity. 

Indeed. While foreign-born wrestlers have a higher chance by definition of running afoul of Japanese norms sometimes (Roho and Wakanoho getting busted for drugs, for example, which almost automatically make you persona non grata in Japan), it's arguable that more Japanese-born wrestlers get in trouble for violence than non-Japanese, and tend to be more involved in systemic rather than spontaneous violence. The profile is mildly skewed by the inglorious exits of Asashoryu and Harumafuji, and to a lesser extent Takanoiwa, but it's arguable that these may have been out-of-character outbursts spurred on by a good deal of drink (although it hasn't stopped certain quarters from casting aspersions on Mongolians as a whole).

There are of course plenty of half-Japanese or non-Japanese rikishi who have never gotten into trouble, or even so only of the embarrassing rather than the damning sort. Kaisei (sansei Brazilian-Japanese) is well known for not using more force on opponents than is necessary, and often catches them on the edge of the dohyo. Tamawashi got a reprimand for breaking a restaurant window on a night out, but that was by inadvertently leaning on it. This basho, while fighting Takayasu, Tamawashi also refrained from using kotenage on him again after his last use of it caused Takayasu an injured elbow.

The Japanese counterexamples are ex-Futatsuryu, Tokitsukaze stable master, who was jailed for his part in the hazing death of a deshi (causing Tokitsuumi's premature retirement to take over as Tokitsukaze oyakata), and also Sumidagawa, an ex-Naruto deshi who was forced to retire after a hazing scandal came to light. Kasugano oyakata also got in trouble for beating Tochinoshin and a couple of other wrestlers who broke stable rules with a golf club, and this was after he already got into trouble as the jungyo head when, on his jungyo watch, a senior gyoji sexually harassed a junior gyoji (after having a lot of strong brew). And these are just the cases we know of. Hazing which would be considered unacceptable today was honestly quite widespread in the good old days of sumo, and some more old-fashioned stables are still having trouble toeing the line. Hell, a certain amount of violence that we might shirk at is considered acceptable in practice; see Miyagino's reaction to the bust up between Ishiura and Hokaho, which was treated more as a "..ok," moment than an actual scandal, despite it involving fisticuffs.

Takanofuji himself had two chances. Takanohana had had to sacrifice his own oyakata career prematurely (he'd probably have exited the NSK sooner or later, but the TNF case was probably the last straw) to keep Takanofuji in sumo. In another day and age Takanofuji would probably have gotten away with it, but after a series of high-profile violence cases and the admittedly inadvisable "0 tolerance for violence" campaign that Shibatayama implemented shortly after, the next wrestlers caught inflicting any kind of violence were almost certain to be forced out, ethnicity or not.

That said, the NSK has got to deal with a certain segment of its viewership which ranges from mildly to outright xenophobic. Since sumo by nature appeals more to the older audience, that audience tends also to be more conservative in its views, and that surfaces from time to time (like the Terunofuji henka "go back to Mongolia" incident). Not to mention that the decision-makers in the NSK itself also belong to that demographic. So by proxy, trying to guess what the NSK will do has got to take into account the fact that the NSK has got to deal with that segment, so mild considerations of race will inevitably shade into discussions like on Japanese vs non-Japanese yokozuna. However, other than instituting rules limiting the number of wrestlers with a foreign shusshin (which is gradually being circumvented by non-ethnic Japanese claiming Japanese shusshin, but that's a wider immigration problem), the NSK has not actually been outright racist itself.

Edited by Seiyashi
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