Definitely Low-Tech Fantasy Sumo

I’m glad I didn’t put more time into developing a quality fantasy sumo app on that platform. I got a notice last night that they were hacked. So, to avoid the security pitfalls of web development, I just want to stress my low-tech method. I’ll never make anything that requires people to put in a password because I know a lot of people use the same password across multiple sites. I don’t, and mine are always randomly generated, so I’m glad I don’t need to change a whole bunch of passwords. The site was giving me a bad vibe, anyway. My paranoia (which you can probably guess by my @unseen.is email address) paid off in this case.

Anyway, if you want to do fantasy sumo, my low tech method is this: send me an email to tachiai@unseen.is with your bids, process described in the previous post. I’ll track it each week and post a running table each day with the results. You can also post them here in the comment section…whichever makes you more comfortable. I’m just really hoping to generate more interest, particularly in Juryo this go round and lower ranked bouts next time.

Low-Tech Fantasy Sumo

I really want to do fantasy sumo but finding a free platform to develop something legit has been difficult. I especially don’t like the sketchy pop-under ads I noticed after I tried last time. So, let’s go low-tech and see if anyone’s interested before I put a bunch of time into it. Now that the banzuke is out, this is how it will go down: you email me a list of your top 10 wrestlers and how much you’re willing to pay to recruit them. You get $1000 to spread among your 10 and you will end up recruiting 5 wrestlers (makuuchi & juryo only for now) into your heya.

  1. Email me at tachiai{at}unseen[dot]is
  2. Subject: “Fantasy Sumo Entry”
  3. Give me a Heya Name and your oyakata alias
  4. 10 wrestlers w/ bids

Since this is the first time, I’ll cut off the first round of bids this Sunday night. To give you a sense of what I mean, these are my bids:

  1. Hakuho, $300
  2. Harumafuji, $300
  3. Takayasu, $50
  4. Ikioi, $50
  5. Takarafuji, $50
  6. Sadanofuji, $50
  7. Osunaarashi, $75
  8. Ishiura, $25
  9. Kaisei, $50
  10. Jokoryu, $50

You get points with wins. 1 win = 1 point. 2 bonus points at the end for a special prize, 3 for a yusho. If anyone decides to try, I’ll post the rosters before action starts and then report on each day’s results. I hope it gets a bit of friendly competition going and ultimately I’d like to expand it to lower divisions and get more interest in those divisions since I personally know very little about the lower ranked wrestlers. Anyway, I figure I’ll see if there’s interest in this low-tech method. It should be pretty interesting to see the strategies people use.

November Tournament, 2015: Banzuke!!!

For starters, Homarenishiki jumped from Jonidan #82 to Jonidan #8. He’s moving up so quickly, he’ll be making his makuuchi debut before the Sumo Kyokai’s webpage loads. Oh, wait, no, the page loads so slowly, Goeido will be kadoban for the 10th time before you get to see the banzuke. More seriously, It would be nice to see Homarenishiki start the new year in Sandanme, Makushita by summer, Juryo by 2017? We’ll see. Just stay healthy!

Champion Kakuryu will lead the November Tournament from the East with Hakuho taking a very unfamiliar position as West yokozuna. Harumafuji returns as yokozuna #2 in the East. Terunofuji claims the top ozeki slot, O1E. Kisenosato follows as O1W with Kotoshogiku O2E and kadoban Goeido O2W.

Screenshot (142)

The lower sanyaku ranks are pretty much the same as in July, Tochiozan and Myogiryu as sekiwake and Tochinoshin as komusubi East. Yoshikaze gets to move into the komusubi West position, returning to the sanyaku for the first time since May 2014. His last three tournaments have been excellent, cleaning house during the last two tournaments with one of each special prize, two kinboshi, and a jun-yusho.

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琴 (koto): An Excuse to Listen to Tool for the Rest of the Evening

Traditional Japanese instruments don’t get much attention in popular music. The koto is a great sounding instrument and is relevant to sumo because the kanji for Koto is used in the shikona of several wrestlers, generally from the Sadogatake heya, headed by former Kotonowaka (琴ノ若), including two ozeki – Kotoshogiku (琴奨菊) and Kotooshu (琴欧州). The heya was established in 1955 by Kotonishiki (琴錦). Please check out my brief post about the kanji for nishiki, 錦, from a few days ago.

So, what is a koto? It is this stringed instrument, played with picks and the bridges can be moved to change the sound. I’ve not listened much to koto music, preferring the shamisen. If you haven’t heard the Yoshida Brothers play the shamisen, I encourage you to check them out…they’re amazing.

But back to the koto. Perhaps the most famous track, the sound of the koto was incorporated into Dr. Dre’s “Still Dre”. I know you’ve heard it. It’s really simple and very catchy. In college, that song was EVERYWHERE. However, my personal favorite is this cover of Tool’s “Lateralus” using a bunch of koto. I miss Maynard’s voice and the buzz of the guitars but this is fantastic. I love great rap tunes but I’m a huge metal head and I especially love prog metal from Tool, so after listening to the koto version I HAVE TO listen to Tool’s original. And then more Tool. This is really going to kill my evening because I will have to lie down and listen to their albums on a loop now.

Origami Sumo (紙相撲)

My son attends a Japanese school on the weekends. He’s in first grade, and after spending the summer in Tokyo, his Japanese is better than mine. Japanese school lets him keep is Japanese skill level up and this weekend they made origami sumo wrestlers. As you can see, the dohyo is a paper plate. My son and his sister had a little sumo tournament. If you click on the gif, you’ll find the instructions for making the little origami wrestlers. However, when I Googled ‘origami sumo wrestler’, there are some insanely good origami wrestlers that I think look a lot better and more realistic. Just as paper football can get really competitive with a few beers, I think this could be a good drinking game…though it might lead to some real drunken sumo.

Origami Sumo
Origami Sumo

Mythical Creatures

“When I say hey, thou shalt not say 鵬.”

Many shikona use kanji for mythical creatures.The most notable ones are 竜, 龍 and 鵬. 竜 & 龍 (ryuu/ryou) mean dragon while 鵬 is a mythical bird that I’ve seen translated as phoenix. Aside: “Thou shalt spell pheonix, P-H-E-O-N-I-X, not P-H-O-E-N-I-X, regardless of what the Oxford English Dictionary tells you.”

In the makuuchi today, two of our yokozuna have these characters, Hakuho and Kakuryu (白鵬 & 鶴竜). Kyokushuho and recent retiree Kyokutenho also share the character 鵬 while a further four wrestlers in the makuuchi for the most recent tournament use the alternative kanji for dragon, 龍. These are Myogiryu, Tokushoryu, Chiyotairyu, Asasekiryu.

This is a statue placed near the beach in Kochi of Sakamoto Ryoma, a samurai from the time of the Meiji Restoration. There's been a revival of interest in him in Japan because of a drama series based on his (short) life. Sucks to take a sword to the head on your 33rd birthday.
This is a statue placed near the beach in Kochi of Sakamoto Ryoma, a samurai from the time of the Meiji Restoration. There’s been a revival of interest in him in Japan because of a drama series based on his (short) life. Sucks to take a sword to the head on your 33rd birthday.

When I think of the character for dragon, I’m reminded of Ryoma (坂本龍馬). I had put a picture of a statue of Ryoma in a previous post but here it is again. When I think of actual dragons, I think of Skyrim. As for Peng birds, I don’t really have much context for that. I play too much Skyrim for that.

錦 (nishiki): Brocade

I’m familiar with the meaning of many of the popular kanji used in wrestlers’ shikona. I’ve had a post about kiku/giku before, and in the future, between tournaments, I’m going to try to post a bit more about them – mostly to help myself study Japanese. I chose to post about 錦 because I really had no idea what that meant. The best part was that after I looked it up, I still had no idea what the English word (brocade) meant. So, I had to go to Wikipedia to get my answer.

Basically, if you clicked the link, you’d see it’s a loom-woven fabric. Wikipedia talks about how they were generally luxury items but I’m still a bit puzzled as to why wrestlers like Aminishiki, Homarenishiki, or Kaonishiki would use it in their shikona. Is it a reference to the keshou mawashi they wear for the ring entering ceremony? Those are made of fabric, heavily decorated, often with their sponsors’ logos or symbols from the cities or countries that they come from.

旧安田庭園
旧安田庭園

When I looked more into the Japanese term, it’s clear the Japanese meaning is more complex beyond the literal translation. There are references to animals and kaleidoscopes and artwork that incorporate the term.

But, for perhaps the best example, we’re all familiar with Koi fish particularly because they’re commonly found in Japanese gardens. I’ve got a picture here which I took at a beautiful garden a block away from Kokugikan (the main sumo venue in Tokyo). There are koi in this pond and many are 錦鯉(nishikigoi) which are prized for their decorative colors – gold, red, black, white. I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about.

Clicking the picture will take you to a Google Map of where you can find the garden. Like I said, it’s very close to the Kokugikan (you can actually see its distinctive roof behind the trees) so if you’re in the area for a tournament, this is a great place to visit. I walked around here for a few hours, taking pictures and just enjoying the peace and quiet. Anyway, there are fish and turtles in the pond and cranes and ducks. It seems a lot of people bring their lunch or bento and eat while pausing to feed the ducks. There’s a shrine in the back, over a little red bridge, behind the trees.

Anyway, this context certainly gives more of an idea of why the term is incorporated into shikona. It still could be something as straightforward and literal as their keshomawashi but Aminishiki, in particular, seems like a rather colorful character. That may be stretching the meaning a bit too far but to me it makes a bit more sense and will at least help me remember the meaning of the kanji.

*Update 1 – (10/4/2015)*
How could I neglect to mention the most famous modern nishikiKONISHIKI (小錦)? Maybe a future post will be about the kanji for 馬鹿 because sometimes I can forget the most obvious stuff that’s staring me in the face. (For some reason horse and deer equals idiot.)

賞(shou): Prize

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As a sumo fan, you likely have this kanji, 賞, in your vocabulary already. What we usually see it used on is the 三賞(sanshou), literally three prizes: 技能(ginoushou), 殊勲(shukunshou), and 敢闘(kantoushou). These are also known as the technique, outstanding performance, and fighting spirit prizes.  We usually see it translated as prize or award, like in the phrase ノーベル平和(no-beru heiwashou) a.k.a. the Nobel Peace Prize. On the right is a prize that I got a few months ago at work for being the man.