Female Sumo

どすこい、京の相撲ガール 全国初の創部から丸2年

Because of today’s headline, I will unveil the Tachiai Hiragana Guide. One could think of hiragana as the Japanese alphabet, except that it’s not an alphabet. It’s easier than an alphabet because it’s purely phonetic. No letters that sounds like other letters and nothing changes when combined with others. No diphthongs.
These are the only sounds in the Japanese syllabary. Everything comes from these sounds. There are a few tricks which I will point out but hiragana is covered in Japanese 101 and it should just take a week. Take two columns per day and you’re golden. I’ll talk briefly about the “dots” below. They change the pronunciation to the appropriate hard sound: so k becomes g, s becomes z, t becomes d, and h becomes b. H becomes P if there’s a little circle like degrees (°).



Today’s article starts with sumo related hiragana. Dosukoi is a sumo word and is also the name of the French blog run by Yohann. It’s one of those things that doesn’t have a translation; it’s just a sumo-related exclamation. I wanted to draw particular attention to this article because it shines a light on a topic close to me: sumo and women. We also see “dots,” kind of look like double-quotation marks, that changes TO into DO.
April is when the new school year starts in Japan. For these students in Kyoto, they’re starting another year as the female sumo club at their high school in Kyoto.
My daughter loves sumo. She’s four, wrestles her older brother (8), and she is brilliant. She’s super aggressive so sometimes I feel sorry for my son because he has to hold back since he’s about 1.5 times her size. So, naturally, I’d love to encourage her. Right now, the only real option around here will be judo, if I can find a good dojo around here. Another option is MMA and getting her into an octagon…but no. I’m not going to let either of my kids go that route. If they want to try physical sports, fine, but I don’t want them developing CTE or eating tons of creative like a former roommate of mine.


Anyway, back to the article. The first kanji is the first character of Kyoto and you should quickly recognize “sumo.” The next little bit will introduce us to katakana which is an alternative writing system for the same sounds that you get in hiragana. It’s just that if you see something written in katakana, it usually means it’s a foreign loan word. In this case, we’ve got ga-ru (ガール) or Japanese pronunciation of “gal.” Again, we see “dots” next to the katakana KA that turns it into GA.
The katakana KA looks like the hiragana KA but unfortunately not all of the katakana are so similar to their hiragana counterparts, as we see with RU (ル) which bears little resemblance to the hiragana version (る). Don’t try to learn both at the same time. Get hiragana down cold, then move on to katakana. I’m a little surprised that they would use the term ga-ru in the headline. It’s quite informal.


Nationwide, this is the first division of its kind and they are starting their third year of the program. The first two kanji, zenkoku (全国), means nationwide. You should recognize the third kanji by now from several of our lessons, hatsu, “begin/start”. The circle looking thing afterward is the hiragana “no.” You also saw it in the first part: 京の. I’m not going to get into the meaning of these particles much, yet, I really just want people to recognize the hiragana first. Next is the kanji for when they established the club. Don’t worry about this kanji: (創). But, remember this kanji: (部). It’s pronounced BU and it’s used in this case as club but it can also be used in an office setting as a division or section. It’s pretty common. In this case, SOBU refers to the group that started this club. (丸) Maru means circle, but when used with a time frame like two years, ni nen, 丸2年 means two complete years. The two years were able to go through the entire cycle. Hiragana (から) “kara” means from, so “from the club’s establishment, two complete years.”

Sumo Wardrobe Malfunctions

When people find out I am a sumo fan, almost always the first question is – what happens when those big men lose their loincloths?

Japan is a very modest society, and the matches are broadcast live over NHK, so any wardrobe malfunction would be relayed in moments to millions of HD sets across Japan and the world.

Now thanks to two of my favorite rikishi, Ura and Amakaze, we can see first hand what happens when someone (in this case the XXXL Amakaze) has a critical mawashi (廻し) failure.  By 2 minutes in, the situation is evident. The corrective action – very sumo.

Fukuoka Dohyo Consecrated


Preparations Complete For Final Basho of 2017

Via a tweet from the Sumo Kyokai, we bring you news of some of the final preparations for the upcoming November tournament.  As always Tachiai will provide close coverage of all the action for english speaking sumo fans.

Coverage starts tomorrow November 13th.  As always NHK world will be providing highlights, with more robust video coverage available on YouTube via these favorites:

Jason’s All-Sumo Channelhttps://www.youtube.com/user/JasonsinJapan



Harumafuji Makes Appearance In Support of Charity HSP


70th Yokozuna Visits Sick Children in Ehime

Taking a break from the Aki Jungyo, Harumafuji payed a personal visit to some very sick children at Ehime University Hospital on the island of Shikoku across the Seto inland sea. As part of his cooperation with the Heart Saving Project, he spent time speaking with and encouraging the pediatric patients.


The HSP charity is dedicated to treating and preventing the high prevalence of juvenile heart disease among Mongolian children, and we salute Ama / Harumafuji for taking time to brighten these young patient’s hospital stay.

As an additional note – the bumblebee Yukata is awesome.

Japan To Watch November Basho In 8K


US Fans Still Left Begging

According to Yahoo News Japan, NHK will try out an eye-popping 8K technology broadcast during the Kyushu tournament from Fukuoka starting November 13th. This will be an advanced technology demonstration of what NHK is calling “8K Super Hi-Vision“.

While no one in Japan has an 8K set, NHK is playing back the tournament in select locations in Tokyo, no word if the Kokugikan will be one of them.

Meanwhile, US fans are getting by with 25 minute highlight shows that NHK is sharing with the world. Don’t get me wrong, these are much better than no sumo at all, but I maintain that NHK is missing a fertile market they could develop in sumo. Like most sumo fans in the US, I eagerly await the day that NHK will allow me to pay money to watch a more complete broadcast.

How To Watch Sumo In The USA


You may have noted two things in my writing for Tachiai – my love for Sumo and my frustration at my limited access to video of my current favorite sport. But if you are considering watching sumo from the United States, don’t despair. There are free and easy ways that you, too, can enjoy one of the worlds most interesting and compelling sports.

First to know, the national broadcaster of Japan, NHK, owns the rights to sumo broadcast. By and large, if it’s sumo, it’s on NHK. For a long time that meant frustration for most fans. While NHK generously provides a “NHK World” feed on some video providers, it was not offered on DirecTV or any cable provider I have had since I lived in Cupertino during the era of Akibono and Takanohana.

Now, in the modern era – we have an app from NHK World. This little marvel will allow you to stream video from the NHK World Service to almost any smartphone, tablet or even (my favorite) 4th generation Apple TV.

What – NHK world does not show the full 3 hour event that is the upper divisions of sumo. What we have instead is about 25 minutes of daily highlights from the current tournament (which happen in the middle of odd numbered months). You can watch highlights on the NHK World app at


12:30 PM Eastern / 11:30 AM Central / 10:30 AM Mountain / 9:30 AM Pacific
6:30 PM Eastern / 5:30 PM Central / 4:30 PM Mountain / 3:30 PM Pacific
12:30 AM Eastern / 11:30 PM Central / 10:30 PM Mountain / 9:30 PM Pacific

On their dedicated sumo web page, there is also video on demand, which makes it easy to watch matches when you want, where you want. For my family, we watch them via Apple TV, and it’s is a greatly anticipated household event.

If you have never watched sumo before, and you think it’s just two fat sweaty men in loincloths pushing each other around, you owe it to yourself to watch one of these summaries. Unlike US “Pro Wrestling” – this is the real thing, not scripted, no pre-determined. They battle with strength, courage and skill. At the end of the tournament, wrestlers with losing records are demoted, and wrestlers with winning records are promoted. Their rank determines their pay, so winning truly matters.

Join me in my favorite sport during September, you will probably be hooked and come to love sumo.