Significant Earthquake in Osaka

There has been a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Osaka. It had an intensity of low 6 out of 7 on the Japanese scale, with an intensity of 5 out of 7 in Kyoto. At least 1 fatality has been reported, people trapped and sporadic fires. There are images of furniture moved, damaged and some light structural damage.


In our third installment of the Japanese idioms series, we hit upon an extremely well known, well used phrase. This was the phrase cited by Kakuryu, Asashoryu, and Chiyonofuji. It is so well used, most people may not even realize that it is one of these four-character idioms. Basically, it means to work hard, so hard one’s life depends upon it. Practically synonymous with “gambarimasu,” or as we say in English, to gamberize, the two are often used together. My wife said it to the kids tonight.


The first two kanji are very common, meaning “one” and “to live.” The third character, “ken” is very rare and not used much on its own. It is, however, important for fans of sumo as the “ken” in “kensho” and “kenshokin” the sponsorship banners and winners bounties awarded to victors, respectively. Lastly, “mei” is the character for life, “inochi”. I’m not going to hazard a guess at a literal translation and I think we can see why Google has such trouble and often ends up with word salad.

You’re likely wondering why I’m skipping a few promotions, going from Kisenosato to Kakuryu. Terunofuji and Goeido decided not to cite an idiom, opting for simple ceremonies, not wanting to stumble over the phrases. For native Japanese speakers, it could also be a bit intimidating since there’s likely a desire to sound sophisticated and a bit of pressure to use a rare one, as we’ll see next time with Kotoshogiku. It’s a particular challenge for non-native Japanese speakers, as we saw with Tochinoshin opting to skip it as well.


Our first yojijyukugo was from Takayasu’s Ozeki promotion. Going backwards chronologically, the previous promotion was Kisenosato and he used the idiom futou fukutsu (不撓不屈). This means “unyielding, unbending.” 不 (fu-)is a fairly common kanji, used to negate what follows it. So this saying is fairly straight-forward. Literally, Not deflected, not bent. This was also the idiom used by the great Takanohana when he was promoted to Ozeki.


This is the first post in a series of posts about 四字熟語. These are the four character idioms which form an important part of Japanese language and culture. For those who seriously pursue Japanese language and try to get a job over there, there’s a good chance that one of the interview questions will be related; maybe something like, “What is your favorite 四字熟語?”

This phrase was Takayasu’s chosen phrase for his promotion to Ozeki. It translates roughly to, “fair and square,” but as with most sayings in other languages, there’s more meaning behind it. We can get a good sense of the meaning from the way Hakuho battled Tochinoshin on the belt in this latest tournament. Rather than resorting to dame-oshi, or avoiding Tochinoshin’s preferred method of attack, Hakuho went at him squarely in a great belt battle. This kind of sportsmanship is celebrated in many cultures, not including the New England Patriots.

正正堂堂: Sei-Sei-Dou-Dou

There’s a fantastic manga called, “Chibi Maruko-chan no Yojijyukugo Kyoshitsu” (ちびまる子ちゃんの四字熟語教室) by Sakura Momoko. Chibi Maruko-chan is a popular manga character, like Doraemon, who has a whole host of books, available here. This one gives great explanations and examples for each of these four-character phrases. I’ve shared a picture of this particular page.

This book gives a similar example to our Hakuho example. It talks about a Judo final where one of the judoka has an injury and the opponent fights in a way to avoid the injury rather than to take advantage of it.

Natsu Day 7 Highlights

I’m going to start here because I’m hungry and will fill in gaps later.

Takakeisho has been looking rather putrid as Mr. Green and Daishomaru has made a stronger case to star in the role. In their head-to-head today, Takakeisho came out swinging, and put Daishomaru into a pulling, defensive mode. With a strong thrust from close to the edge, Daishomaru spun Takakeisho around and moved swiftly for the finishing move. Oshidashi. Daishomaru stays in the yusho race with one loss while Takakeisho picks up his fifth. At M10W, Takakeisho will need to relight that fire quickly if he doesn’t want to stumble further down the banzuke in July. (Wow, we’re already talking about July? Where has this year gone?)

Chiyomaru got elbowed by the falling Takakeisho while waiting for his own match against Hokutofuji. Perhaps unsurprisingly he was unable to overcome the pressure from Hokutofuji. After a really long stare-down where the crowd began to wonder when they’d go at each other, the two finally attacked. Hokutofuji quickly had Chiyomaru back to the tawara but Chiyomaru danced along for quite some time. Hokutofuji sustained pressure, briefly getting a hold of Chiyomaru’s belt, before eventually working him off the dohyo on the other side.
Kotoshogiku faced the struggling Ryuden. You’ve got one guess: quick hippity-hop yorikiri win for the veteran. Kotoshogiku seems to have finally found his stride at M5E. With only an outside threat of needing to face the meat grinder, perhaps he can return to winning form. Admittedly, I’d written off this former kadoban twin, thinking, “he’s done; he’ll retire.” I’m glad to see him doing well. He’s become the bit of good news when thinking about his ozeki brethren.

Ikioi bounced back from yesterday’s setback against Chiyomaru with a bit of an easy one against Yoshikaze. The berserker was nowhere to be found as his more passive twin brother mounted the dohyo, tussled around a bit to get Ikioi’s belt. But Ikioi was having none of it and walked the man in purple over the salt box.
Shodai absorbed Takarafuji’s strong tachiai and tried for a throw. The funny thing is, as Shodai tipped over for the throw, he lost his balance while Uncle Takara stayed up and pressed forward, forcing Shodai to step out. Daieisho picked up his first win of the tournament with a quick demonstration of HOW TO EXECUTE A PULL. Take notes, Goeido-chan. Tamawashi brought a strong tachiai and committed to driving Daieisho backwards. But Daieisho didn’t want to go backwards. He went sideways, upending Tamawashi who thankfully saved himself from a nasty tumble and possible saltbox enema.

Kaisei disrupted Mitakeumi’s momentum…which seems rather natural come to think of it. Mitakeumi had been on a bit of a roll with his wins the last couple of days. As Kaisei charged, I got a feeling Mitakeumi was going for a pull but right when I thought he’d execute it, Kaisei’s massive left arm grabbed a firm hold of that purple mawashi. With a few more seconds of hug-and-chug, Kaisei picked up his second win of the tournament. Mitakeumi falls to 4-3.

Shohozan v Ichinojo was a beautiful bout. Rather than coming out swinging with fierce butsukari, the bruiser holstered his weapons in Ichinojo’s armpits. A grappling bout? Interesting, and a bit unexpected. When the monster reached out with his right arm to grab Shohozan’s mawashi, Shohozan moved for a brilliantly executed throw, leaving Ichinojo in a heap. Third straight loss for the Mongolian.

The Decisive Moment: Quick, who wins?

As we found out last night, Endo injured his bicep and withdrew from the tournament. This handed Tochinoshin his seventh victory. Does this mean Ozeki talk doesn’t start until 11 now? I am glad to see the quick decision to have Endo pull out and recover from his injury. We wish him a full, successful recovery. Another unfortunate implication, no one gets to win that fat stack of kensho.

Abi’s been eating his Wheaties. Goeido charged, full on at the tachiai, committed to moving forward. We should like this. This is a good sign. However, rather than meet him with his chest, Abi raised those long arms, stepped to the side, and deflected the Ozeki into the dirt. No henka here, just solid sumo from a rising star.

Chiyotairyu’s been having a great tournament. He may continue to have a great tournament after today but Mr. Brown is back. None of the wild, out of control Hakuho from the first few days. This was a calm, collected, strong dismantling of the younger rikishi. A firmly met tachiai, a quick tussle as the yokozuna’s quickly found a left-handed grip, and while his opponent flailed around to find a grip, he gave up searching for a right-hand grip in favor of a straight drive forward. Today, the yokozuna was back in control.

In the musubi-no-ichiban, Kakuryu faced the “Sometimes Y” of Yutakayama. Today was not one of those times. Actually, so far this tournament has not been one of those times. Yutakayama’s been struggling but did look strong against the yokozuna. This was no belt-battle or slug-fest. It was more like repeated tachiais as the two billy-goats would drive into each other, Kakuryu would then try to pull, it would fail, rinse and repeat…until Yutakayama’s knee over extended and he tumbled out onto the head shimpan. Both yokozuna stay in the hunt with Daishomaru and Chiyonokuni.

Endo Kyujo! (Yomiuri Shimbun)

I’m gutted. Endo is injured. He will go kyujo today, and Tochinoshin will get a very timely fusen win.

There’s not much detail known now but I will check back soon. About to put the kids to bed.


Endo has withdrawn from competition due to a distal bicep rupture in his right arm. A distal bicep rupture occurs when the tendon attached to the bicep is torn, and depending on the severity of the tear, Endo will most likely require surgery to correct it. Endo’s medical certificate states that he will need three weeks recuperation, but this time frame may change depending on the degree of medical intervention needed.

Surgery for a distal bicep rupture is highly recommended, as not doing so will result in loss of strength in the affected arm. Reading about this development, I can’t help but think of the Kisenosato situation. Kisenosato may have so much to teach younger generations of rikishi, but I sincerely hope that Endo does not follow the Yokozuna’s example when it comes to rehabbing injured muscles.

The team at Tachiai hope Endo takes the necessary medical steps to make a full recovery and that we will see him atop the dohyo again soon!


Goeido 2.1 Released

Goeido 2.0

Goeido version 2.1 was on full display today. What’s new in this maintenance release is that the developers finally realized that in version 2.0 they’d installed the directional controls upside-down. The quick patch was to cover the control panel with a Post-It note. From his squat, the laser-guided targeting system locked in on his prey. Shohozan’s attempts at butsukari were shrugged off as Goeido 2.1 steadily advanced.

Any trepidation around Hakuho’s health will not be eased by his performance today. He won his bout today, after very nearly giving it away. From the outset, it seemed he had made up his mind he would win by scooping Mitakeumi out to his right. It finally worked on attempt #5. A bit too frantic for what I’m used to…as if he wanted to avoid getting wrapped up in a belt battle at all costs.

Kakuryu, looking solid, got a quick and easy win over Tamawashi. Tamawashi committed to bulling forward at the tachiai and Kakuryu deflected him out with very little harm done. Tamawashi just standing there on the edge of the dohyo, dejected, “Where’d he go?” マ…何処に行ったんだ?

Tochinoshin looked like an Ozeki today, tormented by a fly. Abi’s attack seemed to really piss him off, so he wrapped up the youngster and dropped him off the edge with a scowl. My most encouraging sign of the day was that Ichinojo looked dominant against Kaisei. Kaisei locked in early and seemed to expect an easy lean for a few minutes. My guess is there was some ice cream waiting for Ichinojo because he was not content with waiting. Rather than passively reacting, he was mobile and active. Brilliant stuff from the monster.

More to come…


I am very happy to announce the opening of Shop.Tachiai.Org! We’re starting off with T-Shirts, hoodies, sweat shirts and mugs. I am a huge fan of the designs that the folks at PUSH put together. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I think the Evolution one is just edging out the Weekend Forecast, IMHO. They even took my hastily-drawn green macaron and made it look great. In honor of the start of Natsu Basho, use the code HAJIME this weekend for 20% off!!!

Watch this space because I plan to roll out new merch over time, maybe Tachiai moonshine this year and a nice, aged, single malt whiskey in a few years? Right now, the barley in the back yard is only a foot tall, though. My son wants me to come out with a line of Tachiai branded, mawashi-like underwear. While brilliant, the idea of Kotoshogiku picking out his wedgie suddenly has me looking for the mind bleach. I think polo shirts, sweats, and zip hoodies at some point down the line, are a bit more likely.

Update The place to enter discount codes is over on the right side of the screen when you’re entering your shipping information. I’m going to check on the exact timing of the start but I know it runs through Monday morning Eastern time in the US. Let me know if you run into any issues.


Sumo Cluedo (a work in progress)

In the US, we call it Clue. For those unfamiliar, there are simple rules to the board game with characters represented by a different color. Guess the culprit, the method of the kill, and the location to win. We’ll have to switch it up a bit here since the location is fixed. And since many wrestlers change the colors of their mawashi, there may need to be final adjustments to the cast of characters. So, who will claim the first kinboshi, against which yokozuna, and what will be the kimarite?

With Endo up in sanyaku and also apparently switching colors, my Colonel Mustard is gone. Though variant B of this game will bring him back in as we guess who beats a Yokozuna, not necessarily a maegashira. Maybe Kaisei’s orange could count, but that would be some funky mustard. Our スカーレット関 would be birthday boy Abi (or Daieisho). We will surely have Mrs. Peacock (Shodai) and a Mr. Green (Yutakayama).

With Takakeisho slipping, we’ve lost our Plum and its been a while since a White/Silver mawashi’s been up there but we can create new characters around Tamawashi’s and Shohozan. Shohozan’s been mixing things up lately, anyway.

Well. My first guess will be Mrs. Peacock (Shodai), taking out Hakuho (I gotta pick a hard one…Kisenosato would be too easy), with oshidashi.

Sumo Delirium In Full Swing

One more week to sumo and I can’t wait! And I’m afraid my eagerness has infected the rest of the household. While the wife and I were groggily preparing coffee and breakfast, the kids were in the living room watching “Peg + Cat” on PBS. Apparently they like this show, and my nieces like this show…which I’ve not heard of. (I’m doing a great job keeping up with my kids.)

My wife mentions, “This episode is cute because Peg goes to Japan.” I glance over into the living room and sure enough, Peg is a ninja, there’s an expert ninja pig, and a dragon is stealing sacred trees to teach the kids subtraction. There’s also a Japanese ninja friend with a stuffed animal who knows how to use ninja smoke bombs to suddenly disappear. She’s going to sneak over to where the dragon has stolen the trees so she can get them back.

Then, clear as day, I hear Pam say, “Let’s all go help Abi get the trees back from the dragon.” What? Abi? As in our Abi? The one who just had his birthday Abi? Needless to say, I put my coffee on the counter and went into the living room to watch Peg join Abi in her adventure to get the trees back. “This will make a GREAT post,” I’m thinking. I’ll even link to the website and everyone else can watch this great cartoon Abi.

Her name was AKI.

Dammit, I’ve got a whole week to wait for more sumo? My poor kids, I even had them thinking her name was Abi. (Episode 121)

Happy Birthday, Abi!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! And Happy Birthday to the high-flying Abi! The Maegashira #2 turned 24. Its hard to remember these guys are so young. We talk about Hakuho like he is over the hill but even he is only 33! At least I am not as old as Aminishiki!

I want to thank reader “jab” for his comment on the Soken article. The Sumo Kyokai actually has a great calendar on its website but some of the specifics do not get translated for the English side of the site. It is a little frustrating that there is not a clear link to the English site. Instead you have to realize the little globe on the top menu bar is the link to the English site. But there is a lot of great information there. I will try to do a better job of noting news updates and the sumo calendar. I had paid most attention to Jungyo tours but there is more available.

Rikishi Work Hard For Their Fans

With the banzuke release, many media outlets have posted familiar shots of promoted sekitori standing outside their stables duly pointing out their shikona. Endo’s sanyaku debut features prominently. Somewhat less prominent is the work rikishi perform inside their stable walls, fulfilling obligations to their fans. Social media is great because we get more insight into this side of the stable life.

Stories from Meisei, Kiribayama, and Toyonoshima‘s Instagram feeds have given us glimpses, over the past 24 hours, of the “administrative” workload they and their stablemates share. The fat stack of banzuke below (Toyonoshima) are painstakingly folded by hand, sorted, and mailed to the stable’s supporters. Somehow, I doubt they are allowed to invest in a folding machine.

Georgian Wine Review (Part 2)

For a review, and a look into the disjointed way Andy’s mind works:

My wife also bought a Georgian Red Wine the other day along with the sparkling wine we had the other day. (See Post 1) Tonight, we are having the red. I enjoy it. It’s not too dry. I’m not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignons. Granted, we’re not having it with steak but I asked for pork kimchi. My wife was not pleased with my choice of dinner but I got hooked on buta kimchi when I used to live in Hodogaya.

Tsinandali, home of Georgian Poet Alexander Chavchavadze

This particular wine was from the Teliani Valley winery. This was $12.99 and will be a regular in our house. Not too tart, or green, or too dry…my wife says the word is “balanced.” I smell a bit of black pepper. And while I wouldn’t advise eating it with kimchi, the cheddar cheese that my wife picked out was really nice. Both the wine and the cheese were smooth. The wine comes from grapes grown at the Tsinandali estate, pictured. This Mukuzani wine is apparently an international award winning wine. For 13 bucks?

I’ve got to visit Georgia. And that’s not because there was some big fancy neo-conservative pow-wow along the beach. It seems like a beautiful country. It’s perhaps fitting that Tochinoshin is doing so well, the round, Georgian script reminds me of Mongolian. I should probably start learning both languages. If I could read Georgian, then I’d be able to read the rest of the wine bottle.

My fond memories of buta kimchi come from this izakaya below, “Yume.” It’s about half a block from the Hodogaya JR train station, I believe along the infamous Tokaido where I used to watch the awesome customized Japanese long haul semi trucks. I hope Yume still there because my bottle of shochu should still be on the wall. I think it’s bottle #4 and should be about half full. Downstairs is a little bar with maybe 6 seats. It wasn’t until I’d been there a dozen times that I learned there’s an upstairs with tables with hibachi grills.


When I came home from Japan, I learned that the sushi chef at the new Japanese restaurant in my parent’s home town was from…Hodogaya. Then when I moved to DC and started working for FRA, we had an intern from JR. His wife was from Hodogaya and was living there when I was there. I just have a feeling there’s some Murakami portal to a different world there in humdrum Hodogaya. 懐かしい。

*Wow, I put this together quickly before dinner last night and didn’t have time to edit. Geez…what a disjointed mess. I did some editing but left the bit about Yume at the end because I miss that place.

Georgian Wine Review (Part 1)


Georgian Sparkling Wine

Yes, it’s been a while since Tochinoshin won his yusho but I finally have an opportunity to write about Georgian wine. You see, here in Montgomery County, MD, we have weird alcohol laws. Our town was actually dry for a long time after prohibition and even now there are strict laws that limit the sale of alcohol. My wife was in DC the other day and picked up a Georgian sparkling wine and a Georgian red wine.



I’m no oenophile so I’m not going to talk about fancy tasting notes. I did pick up a bit of a yeast-like smell that I often smell with sparkling wine and champagne. My wife is a certified wine expert in Japan and her only issue with it was that the bubbles were not quite as active as she likes, particularly the next day. I must say, it was not flat and seemed pretty active to me. But today it is noticeably less “bubbly” than other second-day sparkling wines I’ve had. Anyway, I liked it. It tastes good and only cost $11 for the bottle.

She also bought a red wine so I’ll post about that in the next few days after we drink it. But tonight we had gorgonzola pasta with our bubbly.