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:
“The banzuke creation meeting announces Sumo’s summer tournament, 19-year-old Takagenji Juryo debut.” This is a loose translation because all of those verbs are implied, thus basically my interpretation. There are no verbs in this.
For your sumo vocabulary, these characters are extremely important. The first phrase is much easier when broken into two groups of three. The first three characters mean sumo. Japanese uses the character for “great” or “big” with sumo to specify we’re talking about professional sumo, Osumo. It’s the same character that starts Osunaarashi, “the great sandstorm,” followed by sumo (相撲). The next three are summer tournament (natsu ba sho). The character for summer, natsu (夏) is swapped out for other characters, like “spring (春),” “beginning (初),” “autumn (秋),” etc. to denote which tournament. Easy enough, right?
Now for the meat of this story. No annoying verbs. Just, “19-year-old Takagenji is new Juryo.” The character for age is (歳). Takagenji’s shikona (or sumo name – 貴源治) is next. If you are trying to learn Japanese for sumo, it is very important to be able to recognize wrestlers’ names, especially those in the top divisions. The first character of his shikona is very helpful for learning other wrestlers’ names because many of the guys from Takanohana’s heya use that kanji, Taka (貴). Just like if you can learn Chiyo (千代) or Fuji (富士) or Umi (海), you can cover a bunch of other wrestlers.
The shikona often trip up translation apps and are why we get a bunch of word sausage. But back to the article, Takagenji is followed by the hiragana “ga” (が) which is often translated as “is.” Then the character for “new” (新) – which is used often, so learn it. It’s pronounced “shin” when used with other characters but atarashi when used by itself. So here we have Shin Juryo (新十両) = “New Juryo.” Our new yokozuna was “shin-Yokozuna” (新横綱).
The next bit just basically mentions the source for the news. The first two characters are super important for sumo fans: banzuke (番付). The rest can basically be translated as the meeting held to create it.
In the comments of my previous post, Céline pointed out Hiragana and Katakana. Those are the native Japanese writing systems. It’s phonetic, so if you can remember what the sounds stand for you can pronounce anything. When learning Japanese, many books put this above the kanji (Chinese characters). I’ll post a chart to help with memorization.
Now, if you’re at the Nikkei website right now, you’ll see a headline that reads Kisenosato is kyujo and will not compete in the Jungyo tours. I thought I’d sneak that little tidbit in there to see who finished the article.