Countdown To Banzuke (番付) – September Basho

It’s now less than two weeks until the Banzuke for the Aki Basho in Tokyo is released. For sumo fans, we are eagerly awaiting to see the new ranking, and to begin anticipating 15 days of sumo starting September 11th. Before we get into handicapping who we think ends up where in the ranking sheet, let’s take a moment to look at the outcome of the Nagoya Basho. In short – a bloodbath. There were 14 Rikishi with winning records, 21 Rikishi with losing records (likely demoted), 2 Ozeki went Kadoban (角番), and there were 5 Rikishi out with injuries, including Yokozuna Kakuryu.

Gory details after the jump Continue reading

Where Has Sumo Gone? – Jungyo! (巡業)

For international Sumo fans, it’s a long wait between the end of the Nagoya basho and the September basho in Tokyo. but in the 2 months between tournaments, for those in Japan, Sumo goes on tour! Referred to as Jungyo (巡業 – Literally, to “make the rounds”), each day  consists of exhibition matches, training sessions demonstrating how Sumotori work out, and sessions where local children square off against Rikishi for fun and entertainment.

The schedule includes a slapstick Sumo bout called “Shokkiri” (しょっきり), which seems to be straight out of the 3 Stooges in places.

These tours in between tournaments helps raise public awareness of Sumo and build the audience for the sport.  It appears to be working, as the popularity of Sumo has risen in Japan during the past few years.

Mongolian Economy Tanking

The Mongolian economy is facing crisis. Its currency, the tugrik, has fallen against the dollar for 18 days straight. Given such a high Mongolian presence in sumo, and the fact that former Yokozuna Asashoryu is an active businessman in Mongolia, this will have an effect on the sport. For one thing, there will likely be less kenshokin and sponsorship money coming from Mongolian firms – and that will likely hit the top Mongolian wrestlers hardest. It may turn more Mongolians to the sport, not immediately but down the road, as unemployment increases. Apparently, rather than default on debts, public salaries and investment are on the chopping block.

It’s not a good situation but may be a sign of broader economic issues. The slide comes from Mongolia’s dependence on the Chinese and Russian markets in particular for commodities, like copper. Falling Chinese demand has brought lower global prices, hitting Mongolia hard. Landlocked, there aren’t easy routes to other external markets. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mongolian sumo feed gets cut.

More “Sumopedia” Videos

I’ve gone back to the NHK highlights website and found they’ve uploaded several more Sumopedia videos worth watching. My only gripe is that the videos are 2 minutes when each topic so far is worthy of much longer documentaries. I found the video about gyoji to have several interesting facts that I didn’t know, particularly their role in purifying the dohyo before the tournament. If I were producing these, a video on the dohyo would be the first I’d make since it’s where the fights take place.