Turbold Baasansuren Debuts in Makushita & Test of Translation Engines


Today’s headlines bring more news about how the May banzuke will shake out. According to the Mainichi newspaper (Mainichi literally means “Every Day” re: “Daily”), two college yokozunas have had their professional debuts approved. They will debut in makushita division at makushita 15. I didn’t see shikona in the article and haven’t found anything on the Sumo Kyokai website but will bring that to you as soon as I can. Their real names are Turbold Baasansuren, the first foreigner to achieve Yokozuna rank in amateur sumo, and Takanori Yago, both from Chuo University. Several other headlines discuss Turbold because, as a foreigner from Mongolia who chose college over immediately going pro, he’s a bit of a trailblazer. Anyway, getting to the actual headline:

幕下付け出し2人を承認

With a hat tip and thanks to reader Asashosakari, I decided to test out the other translation engines he suggested. In the comments of an earlier post, he pointed out that Yahoo! Japan and Excite Japan have their own Japanese to English translation engines. Today, I thought I’d toss this headline in each engine and see which word sausage tastes best. Google, by any account, tastes like stale McDonalds breakfast sausage. The other two were much better but not perfect, definitely some good pub bangers, though. Much more satisfying. Japanese is really hard to translate, especially for machines, and especially given the context of sumo which is not exactly a day-to-day usage.

According to Google: “Approved two curtain gifts.”
Yahoo! Japan: “I begin to acquire a junior division and approve two people.”
Excite Japan: “2 makushita bills are approved.”

All three engines picked up the important verb at the end, “approve” (承認). The rest of Google’s attempt clearly just gets a WTF response from me. Context! C’mon guys, context! Well, Yahoo knew that makushita was the junior division but leaving it as makushita, as Excite did, is fine too. At least Yahoo! recognized and used the counter for people (人), so I’d probably give their translation the edge this time.

But getting to our translation, we’re sumo fans and know that Makushita(幕下) is the junior division. You should also recognize the next character as the last part of “banzuke,” that wonderful list we’re all eagerly anticipating. But together with -dashi, when we’re talking about sumo, we’re talking about a debut as they’re out on the list for the first time. As for -dashi (出し), you will see this character (出) all over the place, meaning “out,” especially for “exit,“ or deguchi (出口).

Putting it all together, we’ve got “Makushita Debut of Two Approved.” This was a bit too simple of a headline so this is the first one where I decided to challenge us to read the first paragraph. Luckily, this whole article was one, very short paragraph and very simple. It mentions their names, the school they came from and the heyas they are joining. The only term I want to highlight for now is 日本相撲協会. This is the Nihon Sumo Kyokai, or Japanese Sumo Association, thus a very important term to know and a great resource for us fans.

We see that these translation engines do have difficulty with contextual Japanese but the Yahoo! and Excite ones are much more helpful that Google, so far. We’ll keep going and testing all three and trying to find others. But I cannot stress enough the need for basic Japanese for sumo fans so I hope you will find these articles helpful.

Kisenosato’s Left Shoulder / Arm Injury


Kise-Arm

Recovery Time: 1 Month

One of the biggest elements to the grand story of the Haru basho was Yokozuna Kisenosato’s unlikely and, to some, unbelievable win following a significant injury on day 13 in his match against Yokozuna Harumafuji. Harumafuji has a couple of very fierce match templates. One of them is to pack overwhelming force into a huge tachiai, blasting his opponent at least off balance and possibly clean off the dohyo.

Harumafuji has been nursing injuries himself for the past year, and decided “Atomic Tachiai” would be his approach to Kisenosato. It worked, and in a tragic misfortune, Kisenosato fell badly and damaged his left upper body. The sumo press, his coach, his stable and everyone were very tight lipped about the nature of his injury, and the severity. Speculation was amplified by the silence, and there was serious talk of his withdrawing from the basho. However he found the tenacity to appear for his day 14 match against Yokozuna Kakuryu. It was clear that he had no strength, and was in a great deal of pain.

Now word comes that Kisenosato will require at least one month to recover from damage to the muscles in his left upper arm and chest. It should be noted that reports still don’t discuss the nature or extent of his injury, only that he will be recovering for month, and will not participate in the spring sumo PR tour know as Jungyo.

The Osaka tournament champion was quoted as saying: “I’m not really in any pain now, so I think I should be able to join the tour (Jungyo) as soon as my doctor allows it”. His stable master was also quoted as saying “It’s important for him to rest now. The Yokozuna (Kisenosato) wants to go on the tour, but his injury must be completely healed. I won’t give permission without an exam to confirm it”.

Kisenosato Gambarized. He “walks the walk” of a Yokozuna


I chose today’s headline to highlight a word Bruce has written about before: 頑張る. Along with signs with wrestlers’ shikona, many supporters hold up signs with this word or its imperitive version, 頑張って. So, today’s headline comes from the Yomiuri newspaper which is another major Japanese newspaper. They also have their own English language publication. So, today’s headline:

痛みに耐えて頑張った!稀勢の里が歩む名横綱の道


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Takagenji Juryo Debut in May


To illustrate the importance of basic Japanese ability for sumo fans, I point my dear readers to the Japan Sumo Association’s website. The English site has two news items with today’s date: the Sumo Museum Calendar and the Dohyo Matsuri information for the May tournament. Fascinating stuff, but the Japanese site includes those and two more: a list of retirements from March and the list of wrestlers promoted to Juryo. Takagenji and Meisei will be promoted to Juryo. For those of us hoping to construct well-informed banzuke, that would be particularly important information, especially if there were makuuchi wrestlers listed among the retirements (there are not). The most senior retirement was Ryouounami in Makushita.

So, appropriately, today’s news headline addresses the Juryo debut of Takagenji. Again, from Nikkei:

大相撲夏場所、19歳貴源治が新十両 番付編成会議

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Japanese Sumo Headlines


The inescapable, critical skill we sumo fans need to enhance our appreciation and enjoyment of the sport is the ability to read Japanese. Even if your language skills are basic, it will open the world to you so that you can read about your favorite wrestlers, go to tournaments, and further appreciate the sumo “community,” perhaps even joining some of the official fan clubs. You can also get a lot more out of the Japanese Sumo Association’s website. While it is a great English language resource in its own right, many of the news releases are only available in Japanese and Google Translate is CRAP at translating Japanese, especially when it comes to sumo terms and shikona of lower-ranked wrestlers.

Springtime in DC

I’ve had it a bit lucky. I studied Japanese in college, lived and worked in Japan for a year, married a Japanese wife who speaks Japanese at home with the kids (who love to wrestle in the living room). It’s still very difficult for me to read an entire article quickly, and accurately, so it may be a surprise that the aim of this series of articles is not to teach you Japanese. It’s to teach it to myself. If you all learn some along the way, awesome.
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Natsu Banzuke Prediction


I am honored to be invited by Andy and Bruce to contribute this guest post. I’ve been following sumo for less than a year, and have learned so much from reading Tachiai. Judging by past basho, I believe that the banzuke for the next basho is mostly predictable based on the rikishi’s ranks and performances in the previous basho. Basically, for each rikishi, I assign a score that’s a combination of their previous rank and their win-loss record. The rikishi can then be sorted by this score and assigned to (any available) sanyaku and maegashira slots in order. The tiebreaker for rikishi with the same score is win-loss record. The main deviation from the straight score order is that rikishi with make-koshi must move down in rank, even if the formula would place them at (or above) their previous rank (indicated with *).

With these preliminaries out of the way, here are my predictions for Natsu:

Upper Sanyaku

Y1E  Kisenosato               Y1W Kakaryu

Y2E Harumafuji               Y2W Hakuho

O1E Terunofuji                 O1W Goeido

These are pretty self-explanatory. Kakaryu and Harumafuji stay in the same positions given their identical records and a head-to-head win by Kakaryu.

Lower Sanyaku

S1E Takayasu                    S1W Kotoshogiku (unless he retires)

S2E Tamawashi

KE Mitakeumi                  KW Okinoumi

The only “open” slot is the one at Komusubi vacated by Shodai. Mitakeumi doesn’t get to move up this time, as it usually takes 11 wins to “force” an extra slot, as Takayasu did for Haru. Given the terrible performance by the lower ranks, there were no good contenders for the Komusubi slot (really, by past standards, nobody deserves to be ranked above maegashira 3 at Natsu). The 3 contenders with equal scores are Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, and Yoshikaze, and Okinoumi gets the nod by virtue of his double-digit wins. I wish Yoshikaze had picked up another win; he’s definitely the sentimental candidate for this slot.

Upper Maegashira

Given the devastation in the upper maegashira ranks at Haru, there will be a lot of turnover here; all of the predicted M1-M3 rikishi were ranked lower at Haru. There are some big jumps, with Daieisho and his 11 wins coming all the way up to M2 from M11.

M1    Chiyonokuni          Yoshikaze

M2    Daieisho                 Chiyoshoma

M3    Endo                        Tochiozan

Mid-Maegashira

A mix of guys moving up or dropping down (in some cases, waaay up—Takakeisho—or waaay down—Shodai, Takekaze, Ikioi, Sokokurai, Shohozan, Arawashi).

M4    Takarafuji*            Aoiyama

M5    Takanoiwa             Takakeisho

M6    Hokutofuji            Takekaze

M7    Ikioi                        Shodai

M8    Shohozan             Sokokurai

M9    Ichinojo                Ura

M10  Kayagiki*             Arawashi

Lower Maegashira

A mix of Juryo escapees and guys hanging on to Makuuchi.

M11  Tochinoshin*      Toyohibiki

M12  Ishiura*                Tokushoryu

M13  Kotoyuki               Onosho

M14  Daishomaru*      Chiyotairyu

M15  Oyanagi                Osunarashi

M16  Kyokutaisei

The promotions of Osunarashi and Kyokutaisei are perhaps the most speculative bits of the whole predicted banzuke, but I think they get the nod over Miogiryu and Kaisei, the last two contenders to hang on to Makuuchi but whose performances didn’t really warrant it.

Demoted to Juryo, from least to most likely:

Miogiryu, Kaisei, Kyokushuho, Sadanoumi, Nishigiki, Chiyoo.

Promoted to Makuuchi, from most to least likely:

Toyohibiki, Onosho, Chiyotairyu, Oyanagi, Osunarashi, Kyokutaisei.

Chiyomaru would be the next in line for promotion if someone retires or withdraws before Natsu. The other interesting candidate is Asanoyama, Juryo Yusho-doten along with Osunarashi, but it’s probably too big a jump all the way from J12 to Makuuchi. If he keeps performing like he has been, this young rikishi will get there soon enough.

 

 

Kisenosato Wins Osaka


It’s tough to fathom, and a bit tougher to believe. On day 15, Kisenosato won his scheduled match against Ozeki Terunofuji. The match was precluded by yet another matta when Terunofuji false-started. After day 14, I am sure Kisenosato was buying none of it. At the tachiai, he employed Harumafuji’s mini-henka to deflect a portion of Terunofuji’s charge, which took him immediately off balance. Terunofuji recovered and locked up chest to chest with the shin-Yokozuna, but Kisenosato was able to maneuver him out for the win.

As the two leaders were now tied, there was a playoff once Harumafuji and Kakuryu fought to end regular matches. Once again Terunofuji jumped in early, resulting in yet another matta. Almost immediately, Kisenosato had Terunofuji pinned by the arm using his right arm (the one that is not injured) and was able to throw Terunofuji using kotenage. The fact that Kisenosato won using his non-favored side was a complete surprise, as Kisenosato is left side dominant.

Needless to say, the fans in the stadium, and indeed across Japan erupted in celebration that the Shin-Yokozuna was able to pull out a come from behind victory in spite of some significant performance limiting injuries. In regards to Terunofuji, he has a great future ahead of him, and his time (probably several) to hoist the emperor’s cup will come again.

I had quite a laugh at the end of the video, as they delayed the 6:00 PM news to cover the end of the basho.  This almost never happens, as there seems to be some kind of code that the 6:00 PM news must not be delayed.

A great write up on the tournament and the changing times in sumo can be found here. It’s a great time to be a fan.