Akinomaki

Yomiuri sumo survey

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3000 within Japan were targeted, usable answers were 2231, 47% male, 53% female; 57% over 50y old.

On the yokozuna banzuke status, 50% want a system with yokozuna demotions, 39% think the present system is good.

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Greatest discontent in sumo at present: many kyujo by injured rikishi 46%, only the great efforts by foreign born rikishi stand out 42%, many scandals 33% - at a survey in 2003 55% named injury kyujo at this question

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the thrill in sumo: small rikishi win against big ones 46%, low ranked rikishi win against high ranked ones 33%, well trained bodies collide 23% - 6% name the design of kesho mawashi

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interest in sumo - above age 60 more than 50 have that (green: much, then somewhat), till age 39, 42% have none at all

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favorite rikishi: 1. Chiyonofuji 407  votes, 2. Takanohana 191, 3 Taiho 127, 4 Mainoumi 101, 5 Waka 72, 6 Endo 51, 7 Hakuho 48, 10 Asanoyama and Terao 41, 12 Kisenosato 38

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On 19/03/2021 at 22:45, hakutorizakura said:

Nearly half of the younger generation have zero interest in sumo... (Shakinghead...)

I sometimes worry about this, but then I think, maybe sumo is just one of those things you become interested in with age. We tend to think that to get people into something you have to catch them young, but my tastes have changed as I’ve grown up and I doubt I’m special in this regard. Perhaps young Japanese will turn to sumo when they’re older and want something more sedate to follow.

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1 hour ago, Eikokurai said:

I sometimes worry about this, but then I think, maybe sumo is just one of those things you become interested in with age. We tend to think that to get people into something you have to catch them young, but my tastes have changed as I’ve grown up and I doubt I’m special in this regard. Perhaps young Japanese will turn to sumo when they’re older and want something more sedate to follow.

Yeah, I hope you're right!

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Unlike pro Baseball (also an old-men sport) which is testing a few stuff (some dumber than others) to help quicken the game and increase scoring, there is not much stuff you can do in sumo to attract new young viewers.

If it's a problem of the slow pace, not sure the NSK can/wants to do anything about it because of the ceremonial/religious angle built into it, I guess.
If the young Japanese are just not into sumo because they spend their time on other occupations : well can't force them to watch.
 

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1 hour ago, Oortael said:

If it's a problem of the slow pace, not sure the NSK can/wants to do anything about it because of the ceremonial/religious angle built into it, I guess.

Funny you should mention that. I recall reading some source (admittedly one in English, which is not hardcore traditional Japanese) that said that the bout nature of sumo made it uniquely suited to modern consumption formats amongst all sports, because you could just get a bout at a time to sate a high. And I only got into sumo partially because of the historical and cultural aspect to it, but I guess that makes me weird.

In any case, we can't tell whether the 42% no interest in a vacuum is bad without historical numbers. If this survey had been done 5 years ago with a 65% figure, the NSK social media team ought to get a pay rise for a 23% swing. The increased profile of the younger oyakata and their increased SNS presence really ought to be counting for something, I think, but it might just be too early to tell.

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My hope is that the Japanese Sumo Assn finally gets smart and realizes that they could really pump in more life blood to sumo by actively engaging the English-speaking world.  They can grow domestic interest only so much.  Who's going to replace the 19% of rabid age 60+ fans when they inevitably die off?  The percentage of international fans may be small but even a small percentage translates into a significant number of people.  These fans are hungry for information about all aspects of sumo.  If the NSK were to start pumping out English-language Youtube videos about all aspects of sumo, leaving the videos up unless they are superseded by updated information, I believe that would go far in reaching the international masses and significantly increasing interest in sumo.  Of course, the Youtube videos themselves wouldn't generate profits (and may have to have ads to offset costs, not sure about this aspect), but they would serve as "outreach" to fans and potential fans alike.  They could feature the stories of individual rikishi, give an inside look at the goings-on in the sumo world, demonstrate the various kimarite, even discuss salaries and how the rikishi earn bonuses, show famous bouts from the past featuring sumo legends, interview high school and college students who are competing in tournaments, all aspects of sumo that would be of interest.

What about an annual international visit by some of the Makuuchi and Juryo rikishi once Covid is controlled or eradicated?  Each year, a different country, but only ONE STOP, NOT A TOUR?  Where is sumo most popular internationally?  West Coast of the US? Hawaii?  UK?  Germany?  Mongolia?  A tour would be too exhausting.  Only one stop for a few days and people would come to them.  Sell a lot of merchandise.  Decrease the number of Jungyo in Japan.  Have Meet & Greets with autographs and translators.  This would be another "outreach".

What about the NSK publishing a souvenir newsletter IN ENGLISH 6 times a year to coincide with each basho to be sent to international fans who pay a membership fee?  Included with the membership fee could be a small exclusive gift with each newsletter.  OR, international fans could get a subscription to the official sumo program and get that mailed to them 6 times a year.  And they need to make sure the sumo program is in ENGLISH as well as Japanese.

I also think that there should be an easy way to order sumo merchandise and souvenirs for international delivery.  A greatly expanded online gift shop IN ENGLISH would be great!  Currently, the Kokugikan has an online gift shop but it's only in JAPANESE!!!  And the merchandise selection is  very limited.  Right now, if anyone asks me how to get sumo souvenirs or other merchandise, I have to refer them to an English-speaking Japanese friend of mine in Japan who will order the items from the Kokugikan gift shop or other shops, have them shipped to him and then he will ship them to the person who ordered them.  (This is cheaper than purchasing from the overpriced sellers on Ebay).  I have done this several times successfully.  However, it would be much easier if international fans could order in English & have it shipped directly to them.

Hopefully, one of these days, Covid will be controlled or eradicated and life will be closer to what it was before the pandemic.  Right now, Japan's postal service is only shipping Small Packets to the US (I don't think that's changed yet), so there would be a limit on what size packages of merchandise could be shipped to the US.  The Japanese postal service is still providing normal service to UK and some other countries.

Sorry, I didn't mean for this post to be so long.  I'm frustrated that the NSK is not being proactive in reaching out to the wide world outside of Japan and making an effort to attract and welcome more international fans.

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Posted (edited)

I'll be honest, I don't think the NSK is very aware of the dedication of its fanbase outside Japan, and I don't think they see it as part of their mandate to reach out to foreign fans at all beyond their current efforts (as opposed to casual foreign tourists). That said, this would be a surprising conclusion because this generation of oyakata includes many who participated in the Royal Albert Hall basho in the 90s, and even then they should already have seen for themselves that there was a potential market to be had.

It could also be that while they are aware, they do not have the wherewithal to pursue such plans for financial and operational reasons. Much of their revenue comes from the broadcasting agreement with NHK; we know thanks to the cancelled basho that the broadcast revenue is a lot of money, and it's possible that they don't want to upset the apple cart. Also, I believe the Abema broadcasts are fairly new, so maybe that is an experiment in moving into new forms of media before they're bolder and move into new languages altogether. And on the subject of overseas tours, the logistics of jungyo are humongous enough that maybe those, combined with the preparation for the RAH event, turned the top brass off any more.

There's also something to be said about the vast cultural difference in the production and creation of Japanese and non-Japanese YouTube videos. I don't know why there's this difference, but there are some foreign YouTubers living in Japan who've discussed this difference, and this may make it difficult for Japanese producers of YouTube content to target overseas fans. There's also the possible attitude (not entirely incomprehensible) that to be appreciative of sumo, you should have some degree of understanding of Japanese as well. As it is, they have been fairly productive in terms of YouTube videos produced for a domestic audience, featuring precisely the type of content you've mentioned. 

That's also a nice segue back to the results of the survey, which may show an alarmingly low rate of interest in sumo among younger Japanese. That could well be the current priority for the NSK - after all, no sense in reaching out to foreign fans when you can't secure your own homebase (and future supply of rikishi).

The only sumo content for an international audience would be NHK World's content led by Murray, John, Hiro, Ross, and Raja. I wonder if there are any details on access figures that the NHK knows and/or shares with the NSK. But this content is pitched at an "introductory" level; we fans here on the forum might be in the unique position of being generally well-versed enough in sumo, albeit not in Japanese, to want more than just such basic content.

All that said and done, I don't hold out much hope in the NSK proactively engaging foreign fans of their own accord. It would take something like a sincere effort by a committee or delegation of fans or something to approach them and pretty much do it gratis for a trial period to convince the NSK that they're onto something.

Edited by Seiyashi
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I'm not Japanese, so my cultural cues may be completely out-of-phase with theirs.  However ...

1) For whatever reason, rikishi are heavier than in the past, and what's more they look heavier (i.e. fat); no amount of Takarafuji dead lift stats or whatever is going to change that perception.

2) Heya life seems to be better than in the past, based upon Twitter/Instagram feeds from the heya vs. scary old-school stories of beatings with golf clubs and intra-rikishi hazing.  But it is still a spartan dormitory existence for years on end.  Adding insult to injury, banning social media posts (where 500 kids posting practice videos and bowling/fishing/restaurant outings with the Oyakata are showing the human side of the rikishi lifestyle) because a few guys posted frat-party type stuff, had to be the most brain-dead management decision of the 21st Century.

3) The NSK is locked into the NHK.  Can they try some new combinations that they're not trying now?

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7 minutes ago, Yamanashi said:

3) The NSK is locked into the NHK.  Can they try some new combinations that they're not trying now?

Abema.

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Just now, Seiyashi said:

Abema.

They're trying that now.

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I mean, before Abema, they were locked into the NHK, so Abema's their experiment, isn't it? Otherwise, to be fair, your question would have to be NSK's locked into NHK and Abema is just ??? so is there something else?

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I assume a significant reason that they are focused mainly on domestic consumption is that they are an organization that is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Culture, etc.  While not quite a governmental body, they have a duty first and foremost to Japan.  Hosting foreign tourists is part of that.  Offering programming to people who will never set foot in Japan is a bit less up their alley, even if it would bring in revenue.  Certainly any outreach to foreign fans would have to be profitable to even be considered; I don't think they're interested in promoting sumo overseas for its own sake.  They see sumo as a uniquely Japanese institution, and fear that foreign fans simply can't understand it in its entirely (as I think has already been mentioned).

Here's a translation of the rest of the list Akinomaki posted (I'm not looking up all of them if I'm confident in my reading skills, so I *might* be wrong on some)

12. Kisenosato - 38

13. Asashoryu - 37

14. Takakeisho - 35

15. Enho - 32

16. Wajima - 29

17. Shodai - 26

17. Takanohana I - 26

19. Kashiwado - 23

20. Tochinishiki - 22

21. Kitanofuji - 19

22. Konishiki - 16

22. Terunofuji - 16

24. Takamisakari - 14

24. Mitakeumi - 14

26. Asashio - 12 (Doesn't say which one; presumably the more recent Ozeki, not the much older Yokozuna.  Perhaps they weren't even differentiated in the survey collection.)

27. Takamiyama - 11

27. Wakanohana II - 11

29. Kaio - 10

29. Kirishima - 10

29. Daieisho - 10 (Some people just like recent winners I guess?)

29. Takayasu - 10

 

The fact that this list is populated so heavily with older rikishi is an indication that the older fans were young fans at one point, so not picking up the attention of younger fans might be a bigger problem than others have let on.  Since their retirements it's been 30 years for Chiyonofuji, closing in on 20 for Takanohana, 50 for Taiho.  That the most popular active rikishi is Endo (!!!) says a lot about how much into sumo young people are; that is - only ankle deep and heavily affected by the media coverage, without caring about the actual competition.

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3 hours ago, Seiyashi said:

that said that the bout nature of sumo made it uniquely suited to modern consumption formats

I’ve made that same point on this forum. A typical sumo bout is an ideal length for social media sharing, if only the Kyokai/NHK could work out a content strategy for it.

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18 minutes ago, Eikokurai said:

I’ve made that same point on this forum. A typical sumo bout is an ideal length for social media sharing, if only the Kyokai/NHK could work out a content strategy for it.

Egads, my lurking days have come back to haunt me... 

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At our Japan office, the 'early' go home days are 7pm. Usual days are at least 9pm. How the hell are 19~39 year olds supposed to watch sumo when it wraps up at 6pm?

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34 minutes ago, Tsuchinoninjin said:

At our Japan office, the 'early' go home days are 7pm. Usual days are at least 9pm. How the hell are 19~39 year olds supposed to watch sumo when it wraps up at 6pm?

Kintamayama Channel on Youtube (Laughing...)

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47 minutes ago, Tsuchinoninjin said:

At our Japan office, the 'early' go home days are 7pm. Usual days are at least 9pm. How the hell are 19~39 year olds supposed to watch sumo when it wraps up at 6pm?

Same problem cricket faces in England. County matches are watched by a few retirees only. International tests get crowds only because they’re a big deal and people take time off to go. They invented T20 so there was a shorter version that could fit into an evening or weekend afternoon. Not sure what sumo could do other than move the schedule so Makuuchi bouts started a couple of hours later, then at least some people might be able to attend.

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4 hours ago, Fukuyamada said:

Kintamayama Channel on Youtube (Laughing...)

They have that QR code replay on NHK’s website ;-). But yea youtube is more universal than that website

4 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

Same problem cricket faces in England. County matches are watched by a few retirees only. International tests get crowds only because they’re a big deal and people take time off to go. They invented T20 so there was a shorter version that could fit into an evening or weekend afternoon. Not sure what sumo could do other than move the schedule so Makuuchi bouts started a couple of hours later, then at least some people might be able to attend.

ECB now made The Hundred. Will sumo have that “The Hundred”?

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7 minutes ago, code_number3 said:

They have that QR code replay on NHK’s website ;-). But yea youtube is more universal than that website

ECB now made The Hundred. Will sumo have that “The Hundred”?

Sumo does have one-day knockout tournaments but until they have some impact on the rankings and thus salaries too, rikishi won’t take them seriously, so fans won’t either. They’d also need to tinker with the format to ensure all rikishi are there for longer. If a rikishi loses in round one, that’s his day’s work done. Maybe they need a round-robin group stage like the World Cup.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Eikokurai said:

I’ve made that same point on this forum. A typical sumo bout is an ideal length for social media sharing, if only the Kyokai/NHK could work out a content strategy for it.

It would come out like their sumo app. Ten seconds bam and done at least for me personally holds no interest. I prefer embedded into tournament narrative or at least the tightened digest version NHK does. And I think that's at least somewhat hold true for younger fans. The interest in the people stories versus the bouts themselves has been brought up, do you really think people want to share ten seconds of Enho fighting from tachiai to fight end, instead of Enho being cute in his keshomawashi, Enho hurrying from the line up back to get into the garb form the yokozuna ceremony, Enho going through the pre-bout ritual, Enho getting a stack of money, Enho slurping soup on a fishing trip. The fight as such is only interesting if something really interesting happens, Enjoy got a leg up in his smallguydefeatsbigguy thing, but to transfer that into something that gets butts in seats and people paying for merch, you need more of narrative than ten second fights on tiktok.

For foreign fans it'd be already nice if they could come out with a 2500yen tournament pass for NHK or Abema. Abema is not available outside Japan and NHK would cost me 60€ per month via something that sounds very hasslesome and not very compatible with my tech.

Edited by Morning
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24 minutes ago, Morning said:

It would come out like their sumo app. Ten seconds bam and done at least for me personally holds no interest. I prefer embedded into tournament narrative or at least the tightened digest version NHK does. And I think that's at least somewhat hold true for younger fans. The interest in the people stories versus the bouts themselves has been brought up, do you really think people want to share ten seconds of Enho fighting from tachiai to fight end, instead of Enho being cute in his keshomawashi, Enho hurrying from the line up back to get into the garb form the yokozuna ceremony, Enho going through the pre-bout ritual, Enho getting a stack of money, Enho slurping soup on a fishing trip. The fight as such is only interesting if something really interesting happens, Enjoy got a leg up in his smallguydefeatsbigguy thing, but to transfer that into something that gets butts in seats and people paying for merch, you need more of narrative than ten second fights on tiktok.

For foreign fans it'd be already nice if they could come out with a 2500yen tournament pass for NHK or Abema. Abema is not available outside Japan and NHK would cost me 60€ per month via something that sounds very hasslesome and not very compatible with my tech.

Well, no, I don’t think that alone will work, which is why I spoke about content strategy. It’d be easy enough to tell the stories of the basho and provide context for bout footage in short captions.

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UEFA Champions League will become UEFA Makuuchi League with Swiss-tournament system in years time.

just a random thought

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