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:


This headline discusses Kisenosato, as you should recognize his shikona after the exclamation point. All together, I’m translating this headline to mean, “he endured the pain and gamberized! Kisenosato walks the Yokozuna walk.”


I’m not starting from the first character because I want to get to this word: he gamberized. There’s not a great translation for this word which is why I like that Bruce took it and made it into English. You’ll frequently see it as “to do one’s best,” which is probably the closest we’ll get. With hiragana -te at the end, it’s an imperitive (or kinda to wish one luck). In this case, it’s put into the past with the hiragana -ta ending which I take as he didn’t just do his best but actually accomplished it.


The first sentence actually starts with this, “endured the pain.” The Japanese word for “it hurts” is “痛い.” Itami
is the noun while itai is the adjective, so Itami is pain. Then Taeru is to endure. “Itami ni taete.”


The very important sumo term in this phrase is Yokozuna (横綱). Literally, horizontal rope because they wear that fancy white belt made of rope. You see the character for horizontal all over Japan, usually in the names of places like Yokohama and Yokosuka. The rest of this isn’t super important for sumo purposes but more important for learning Japanese. The first character means walk. The last character means “road” or “path” or “way.” You’ll be pretty familiar with that, pronounced “dō” pronounced like Julie Andrews sang it, “dō, a deer, a female deer…” This is in words like judo, aikido, kendo, bushido, and my favorite, chado (the way of tea).
Lastly, there’s another character in there: 名. This character means “name.” If you’re ever filling out a form in Japanese, you’ll need to know this character. As soon as you fly into the country, you have to fill out the immigration paperwork. Thankfully, there’s English available but you can see the Japanese characters on this form. If you ever live in Japan, there will likely be some forms where you have to sign up for something but there won’t be an English version. Also, in sumo, there’s another word that uses this character and I’ve used it in all three of these articles: shikona. In kanji, it’s 四股名.

So, for this last bit, we see “Kisenosato walks the way one would call, Yokozuna.” This translation is a bit too artsy for me. That’s why I like our English idiom: he walks the walk. The next step would be to actually read this article. It will take me a while to do that but it seems to talk about how he earned his Yokozuna rank as he won his second title in a row in dramatic fashion. I’m not sure if it talks about the depleted ranks, particularly the upper sanyaku…but I’ll give it a go and report back.

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

  1. Seriously, these are great. I bow to your superior skill in navigating kanji. It should come as no surprise that my kanji recognition skills are best on subjects of food and adult beverages. Seeing as Sumo uses a different lexicon, I sometimes struggle

    • :) After typing this smiley face, I realized another lesson could be spent on Japanese emoticons. They’re fascinating but I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

      On that topic, what’s really funny is that most of the emoji libraries have a Tokyo Tower emoji but Samsung’s version of the Tokyo Tower emoji is not orange/red and appears to be the Eiffel Tower. Does anyone else detect a hint of Korea-Japan nationalist rivalry there?


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