The Kisenosato Effect

It’s been a few days since our last scan of Japanese sumo articles. Today, we turn again to Mainichi since the Nikkei seems quite satisfied to take a break in coverage during the interbasho timeframe. I’m hesitant to use Yahoo! and other aggregators but will expand my crawl in the coming days. I bring this up because today’s headline is a bit…premature, so I think they’re kind of reaching for content. It would be nice if they covered the Jungyo.


Today’s headline is about the “Kisenosato effect,” an expectation for an increase in high schoolers turning toward sumo, which has apparently not materialized. Come on, Chris. It’s been two basho. There are a lot of trend driven Japanese but no one in their right mind would drop out of cram school, scrap plans for university and quash their dreams of becoming salarymen by suddenly devouring chanko and choosing the grueling life of a rikishi based purely on Kisenosato’s win, no matter how many times articles refer to his gekiteki (“dramatic” via lesson 1) championship.

Now, to the headline:


You recognize Kisenosato’s shikona by now. The final two characters are pronounced kōka, and mean “effect.” So we’ve got the “Kisenosato effect.” Let’s look at these individually. The last one, together with “mono” (果物) means “fruit,” as in fruit at the grocery store: pears and apples and bananas and stuff. Turning back to kō, this character is used in several compounds to mean the same thing: “effect.” I just wanted to draw your attention to the similarities between this character and another character later in the headline: (校). They look similar because they contain the same radical and that actually helps me remember the pronunciation is kō. This seems to happen frequently in Japanese where characters with the same radical get pronounced the same so anything that helps me when I’m trying to guess the pronunciation or meaning of new words is a big help.


Kitai means expectation. Here it is with hiragana “mo,” which means “and.” Again, we have two kanji that you’ll want to learn. Both are somewhat relevant to our
last lesson on telling time. The first character, ki, is often seen with the character kan (期間) that we learned in the last lesson to mean “a time period.” The second character (待) means “wait.” Those radicals are very important because surely you’ve noticed that it looks a lot like the character from the last article that means “hour.” Japanese is difficult but we’ll get there. I guess it kind of makes sense that if someone is standing around waiting for a period of time, they’ve got some expectation…some reason they’re waiting.


Not increasing, pronounced fuenai. I’ve got no interesting anecdotes about this one, so let’s move on.


“High school student rikishi.” The last two characters are the sumo term, rikishi. The first two mean high school, kōkō. The character in the middle there is used for student, often with the character for study: (学). So, all together, our headline claims that the expected Kisenosato effect is not materializing, there’s not a huge crush of high school sumo wrestlers. As I said, this expectation should probably be dampened quite a bit and we’ll see what happens if more Japanese sekitori are promoted to Ozeki and eventually Yokozuna.

4 thoughts on “The Kisenosato Effect

  1. Ok, sorry but time to soap box. I love me some Great Pumpkin – but really, Japanese press, there is a TON of stuff going on in Sumo that is no Kisenosato. Not faulting you Andy, you have once again done sterling work – but I would love for them to report on Hakuho and Harumafuji in this time period, too.

    We know Kisenosato is hurt and will be somewhat limited during Natsu, but there is a real concern that these two Yokozuna are trying to escape an endgame scenario due to lingering injuries.

    Yeah – I should stop complaining and go dive into the Japanese press.

    • As a sort of follow on point I’d love to learn more about Juryo and the riksihi likely to be in makuuchi either in Natsu or later in 2017

      • That stuff is, unfortunately, much more likely to be found in the monthly print mags than in the daily press. There were probably some short articles about the impending makuuchi debuts of Onosho and Oyanagi at the end of the last basho, and some more will be published after the new banzuke is out, but neither will be terribly in-depth, I suspect.

        Unless Oyanagi and his stable have done what they insinuated half a year ago and he shows up in makuuchi with his brand spankin’ new shikona as the third Yutakayama. That’s the type of stuff the beat writers love to write about at length. :)


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