Takasago beya, despite its legacy of big named stars, has fallen on hard times. To start 2017, the stable which produced Asashoryu and the American ozeki Konishiki had no active sekitori. According to the article, this was the first time since the 11th year of the Meiji era (1868) that Takasago beya did not have an active sekitori. Asanoyama’s promotion for the March tournament brought the stable back into the elite divisions. He will climb quickly into makuuchi on the back of his 10-5 record, just missing out on the Juryo yusho, losing a three-way playoff which included Osunaarashi and yusho-winner, Toyohibiki.
Today’s headline is a month old but it gives a great back-story to this young phenom. He hails from Toyama, a coastal prefecture in central Japan, on the Sea of Japan between Ishikawa and Niigata. The headline mentions how he was fighting to honor the memory of his late former coach. The story comes from a new source to me, Web Sportiva. Now to the headline:
The article starts with an important sumo term: 関取 (sekitori). The first character is used as the honorific suffix for sumo wrestlers. As I’ve mentioned before, you often refer to people with their name followed by -san. Usually it will be the family name but with friends it will be their first name. In a formal business setting, they often use -sama to refer to their superiors or to customers. With teachers, or doctors it will be -sensei. For sumo wrestlers, it’s -seki. For example, on many tweets online you’ll see them refer to Endo as 遠藤関. Takasago beya (高砂部屋) had zero sekitori and the katakana for zero is “ゼロ”. Other than Asanoyama’s shikona (朝乃山) and a few particles, the only thing left in the first part of the headline is the verb: sukutta (救った), meaning “saved.” So, quickly we get “Asanoyama, who saved Takasago beya from having zero sekitori,…”
Of this, the word you really need to know is the word for to think (思う), pronounced “omou.” Here it’s omoi, as in “thoughts.” If a thought occurs to you suddenly, the thought comes out, or 思い出す. Instead of thoughts being in his head, it’s close to his heart in his chest (胸). It’s the late former coach (亡き恩師) who he fights for or tatakau (戦う).
We just got back from a quick vacation to Luray, Virginia. They have big caverns. It’s also near the very scenic Shenandoah National Park. Right now, these pictures are from Luray. The next time I’m in Japan, I will try to make it to the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asanoyama’s home prefecture and our blog will revisit it as a tourist destination. I want to highlight some of the places where these guys come from in the future.