Noted sumo commentator, photographer and author John Gunning has penned an article for the Japan Times, squarely addressing the problems discussed frequently on Tachiai – namely that sumo has a growing injury problem. As stated on Twitter, this is literally an article that only John Gunning could write.
John has been living in Japan for many years, and has personal relationships with many rikishi, including names that we cover on Tachiai. The Japanese sumo press has its own set of customs and guidelines that they tend to follow, and open criticism of the Sumo Kyokai, the Jungyo schedule and the Kosho system. By contrast, John most likely feels free to write openly about what he surely feels is critical subject.
Just a small portion of a fantastic article here
So just what is causing the increase in injuries? It’s no secret that sumo’s popularity is near an all-time high right now and one effect of that has been a rising demand from various towns and municipalities around the country to host jungyo (regional tour) events. The normal downtime between tournaments, when rikishi could rest, heal up and then build up training intensity gradually, has been cut to almost nothing. The last two inter-basho periods saw 23 and 22 jungyo days respectively.
Tours play havoc with a rikishi’s physical condition, as they travel long distances in cramped buses, arrive at venues late at night and eat bento and convenience store food almost every day. There is no real break during each event either, as activities are spread out and downtime isn’t long enough to get decent rest.
Please do visit the Japan Times and read the entire piece.