Tachiai Interviews Kintamayama, Part 5: “You can’t bleep it out, that’s my name!”


Kintamayama / Moti Dichne Live in Concert
After completing our setlist of questions, Kintamayama prepares to play Tachiai off the stage. Photo courtesy of Moti Dichne.

Welcome to the fifth and final part of Tachiai’s conversation with Moti Dichne, aka Kintamayama. Moti is well known in the online sumo community for his tireless coverage of all things sumo through his newsletter, his presence on SumoForum, and of course, his exhaustive YouTube channel.

A big thanks is due to Moti for taking the time to chat with us. We’re pleased to have been able to bring this conversation to our readers, and are thrilled that it has not only been so well received, but created more conversations around sumo – especially including some of the more controversial aspects of our chat!

Click here for Part 1, here for Part 2here for Part 3, and here for part 4 of our conversation. The interview took place during this year’s Natsu basho, and has been edited only for clarity and length. This segment touches on Moti’s shikona, his channel, and perhaps the most controversial move in sumo.

Tachiai: Let’s talk about Kintamayama (金玉山), The Mountain of Testicles.

Moti Dichne (Kintamayama): Everyone had funny names to stand out. That’s the whole point of playing the game.

When I entered, and started following sumo online, I made a list of names, and this just came. It just sounds good, the meaning doesn’t matter 90% of the time. Most people don’t understand it. It sounds cool.

The funniest thing is, Japanese TV interviewed me. It’s on YouTube. During the show, you’re not allowed to say these [kinds of] things. But if that’s my name… that’s my name!

The announcer was having such a great time saying it, and every time he said it, the crowd burst into laughter! “Kintamayama” “Waahhh!!!”

He said it about ten times in two minutes, just so he could say it. Let’s say a Japanese guy would play someone called “C—face.” Can you imagine the announcer? “And this is C—face.” What can I say? You can’t bleep it out, that’s the name!

But I never thought it would become this [big]. I thought, “Kintamayama’s a joke!” Some of the Japanese sumo games would not accept my entry because of my shikona. I said, “that’s a reason to stick with it!”

Some guy wrote me and said, “When you’ve retired, can I get that toshiyori, that second generation name?” I said, “No problem, you take the name when I retire.”

For foreign fans, it just sounds like another name. I thought of “ji-shin,” earthquake. But jishin? that’s nothing. And people die in earthquakes. Testicles, no problem. Konishiki went crazy! He loved saying it. He’d say, “This is my friend, Kintamayama!”

John Gunning told me, “The Kyokai knows your name, they know!”

I have no idea why [the Kyokai] never shut me down, to tell you the truth. I never got any warnings, until the last basho, and I got a warning from Abema. I’ve never used Abema! I can’t watch Abema, I’m not going to use VPN. I understand that because [the channel is] a digest, it falls under the category of fair use.

The Kyokai are very strict, but MLB and NBA are much more strict. There are many, many [sports] digest channels that have not been touched, and I use those. When I don’t have the time or inclination to watch the whole game, I just watch the highlights. But I have no idea why they’ve never touched me. 

Is it because no one else is doing it, even their rights holders?

I have no idea, I’m not going to ask anyone either, to wake up the dead dogs as they say. They know. Just look at the numbers, 12 million views, 26,000 subscribers, that’s a lot for sumo, any way you look at it. It’s a different thing to Jason, he’s incredible, [the way he] does the top bouts and films it. It’s a fantastic philosophy. He’s brought in thousands of fans and it’s very approachable, he’s a cool guy. 

I think for a lot of people, it’s appealing when you don’t know anyone else who’s into sumo to discover someone like Jason on YouTube, and that concept that it’s like watching it with a buddy. You can kind of go “oh, interesting, I don’t have another person who I can talk to about this.”

And it’s not that many bouts, so it shows the top guys.

The cool thing about that is there’s an ecosystem. We’re in this moment where people, specifically English speakers, can’t get enough information. To your earlier point, there are a lot of people from the English speaking world who perhaps don’t understand the Japanese way of thinking, and how that way of thinking informs sumo culture. I think the more information that’s available to those people, the more rich it makes the community. We see comments all the time, such as “why doesn’t this rikishi take a bunch of bashos off” or “why don’t they do this or that,” and you need that background information.

We have to be patient. I get a lot of comments on my videos and I try to answer every one that has a question, and especially every comment that says something that I find totally wrong. And usually, 99% [of people] say “thank you for the information.”

But if it’s, “Why is it like this?” “Why are there no weight classes,” and things like that, that’s like asking why players in baseball wear caps. What kind of question is that?! Let’s say I asked you that kind of question, what would your answer be?

About caps?

Yeah, let’s say you have a baseball site, and I say “why are your players wearing these ridiculous caps?”

That’s how it is, it’s part of the game.

Yes! Exactly! You don’t come into a baseball forum and ask “hey, why are bunts allowed? It seems unfair!” 

Now they have statistics that prove bunts are actually not good.

Bunts are like a henka. Why is henka allowed? Okay: that is always the biggest question. But it always deteriorates and ends with the word “nazi.” When you get to that part, where it’s “you fucking nazi!” … that’s when the discussion is over. The henka lights up everything.

It’s controversial. Whenever you see a henka, at least on the English feed, the commentators will always say “look, it’s a legal move.”

Yeah, “I don’t like it but it’s a legal move.” The Japanese commentators don’t like it.

I think it’s the equivalent in baseball of a curveball.

I think it’s the equivalent in baseball of an intentional walk. And now, from last season, you don’t have to throw the ball for an intentional walk, you just say it.  

The crowd feels cheated. An intentional walk is usually against the biggest hitter, and the crowd says “shit, I paid however many dollars, I want to see him play, not walk!” 

So Terunofuji henkas Kotoshogiku and ends his Ozeki career. People said an Ozeki shouldn’t do that – and then Terunofuji himself had to later attempt to get back to Ozeki. What do we think about that?

It’s crap! At that time, in a big sumo newspaper, I was on the “for henka” side and another guy was against it. Each one of us wrote a gigantic article. I said it doesn’t matter if you’re a Yokozuna or an Ozeki, as long as it’s legal. I don’t like kachiage, but for it to be frowned upon!? It’s part of sumo, it’s not a rule. 

What about the harite?

The harite also. You know, Hakuho, the last few years, without the harite, had a problem. He came back a bit with it [in Osaka], and got the yusho! I don’t care! I love it!! I think the slap and grab is nice.

I think it adds character.

It adds everything – it’s not boring. But, there were guys that used to do glorious henkas, jumping in the air. That’s part of keeping people guessing.

Look at your opponent, don’t look at the floor like Kotoshogiku, who was the number one henka-ee, you know? You’re not animals, just see what you’re opponent’s doing.

There are people who can’t stand it, because they think it’s cheating. You can’t convince everyone about the henka. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, we appreciate it!

Thank you for asking me!

Find out more from Kintamayama and subscribe to his mailing list at dichne.com. And finally, thanks again to Moti for chatting with Tachiai.

Natsu Day 14 Highlights

Edo or Tokyo? – The Classic Stylings of Asanoyama

Day 14 showed us another look at the future of sumo. We have been getting these a few times a year since Hakuho has gone into an on again / off again mode, and can no longer be counted on to dominate a basho. With Harumafuji out of sumo all together, the mainstays that would keep the lower ranks beat down have been removed, and new champions are free to emerge. We have moved from the homogenized “Every yusho is Hakuho” world into an environment where a hard working, dedicated and skilled Maegashira 8 can take the yusho. Our hearty congratulations to Asanoyama.

We noticed Asanoyama some time ago, and he distinguished himself early with his solid sumo, and his fantastic attitude. Every day he mounted the dohyo, no matter what the score, he was just happy to be doing sumo that day. Since his top division debut, I made and used the somewhat humorous tag “Asanoyama ❤️ Sumo”, but it really shows. Some time in the past year, he has dialed in a classic style that looks straight out of a 19th century wood block print, and has used it this May with great effect.

Congratulations to Asanoyama, it could not have happened to a nicer guy.

Highlight Matches

Toyonoshima defeats Ishiura – Toyonoshima picks up his 8th win, and more or less ensures that Ishiura will be headed back to Juryo. Ishiura is still struggling to enact a working pixie sumo formula, and Juryo is a fine place to sort that out once again. But Hakuho’s dream of having a dohyo-iri with Enho and Ishiura is on hold for a while longer.

Shimanoumi defeats Enho – After a cold start, Shimanoumi comes roaring back to score at least 9 wins for Natsu, and putting Enho on the make/kachi-koshi line. Enho is clearly still suffering from whatever happened to his right thigh, and it may have gotten worse in his day 14 loss.

Shohozan defeats Terutsuyoshi – That’s 2 of the 3 pixies with make-koshi records for May. The entire cohort faded into week 2, but I hope nobody thinks this is a repudiation of the pixie sumo style. They will be back after some tune-ups. But this many losing records at the bottom of the banzuke raises the question of who is going back to Juryo.

Daishoho defeats Tochiozan – Daishoho once again executes well, picking up his 9th win while giving Tochiozan his make-koshi. The match was really all Daishoho, who took the inside road at the tachiai, and did as he pleased with Tochiozan.

Kagayaki defeats Sadanoumi – Sadanoumi’s opening gambit fails, and he finds himself without workable defensive foot placement. Kagayaki plows ahead and bodily removes Sadanoumi from the dohyo for the win.

Yago defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi’s preferred arm-bar hold seems to have run out of gas at least for this basho. He manages to pin Yago’s left arm, but after consoldiatinlg his position, Yago uses a maemitsu grip to maneuver Nishikigi over and out for a loss.

Tomokaze defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma goes down to his 10th loss, and will be deep back in the Juryo pack for July. Tomokaze has one more day to secure his 12th consecutive kachi-koshi.

Abi defeats Meisei – I cringe now when I see a monoii in the top division. It’s like “What kind of nonsense is Onomatsu oyakata going to utter this time?”. They give the win to Abi, both men advance to a respectable 9-5.

Chiyotairyu defeats Tokushoryu – Out running Chiyoshoma in the race back to Juryo is Tokushoryu, who has looked absolutely terrible this basho. His sumo is so much better than this, and I just have to assume some new or old injury has limited him.

Tamawashi defeats Kotoeko – Tamawashi goes to double digits, and complicates the Nagoya San’yaku picture somewhat. His sumo is back to being strong, focused and able to overcome quite a bit. Will he he turn it up to 11?

Endo defeats Onosho – Did you see the point where Onosho is driving forward, and decides he wants to try to pull Endo down? Yes, that’s the moment where the match was lost. Endo is too sharp to throw that kind of opportunity away.

Daieisho defeats Chiyomaru – Chiyomaru seemed to have zero power today, and Daieisho was fully charged. Solid center-mass thrusting attack from Daieisho for the win. Although he is make-koshi, his sumo is holding up well into the end of the second week.

Hokutofuji defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikaze’s sumo is completely broken right now. His style is usually fast paced strike-and-move combos that leave his opponents reacting, usually at least a half step behind. Whatever is plaguing you, Yoshikaze, we hope you can heal.

Myogiryu defeats Kotoshogiku – Kotoshogiku held the advantage in this match until he got a bit too eager to close the deal, giving Myogiryu a narrow window to rally and execute a throw. Great kubinage in a tight spot from Myogiryu.

Okinoumi defeats Aoiyama – Aoiyama decides to pull, and gets it stuffed in his mawashi by Okinoumi. Cut it out guys!

Mitakeumi defeats Takarafuji – Mitakeumi picks up his 8th win and secures a return to at least Komusubi for July. This match was all Mitakeumi, with him gaining the inside grip at the tachiai, staying low and just driving ahead.

Ryuden defeats Ichinojo – Ryuden picks up win 9 in this well executed match against Ichinojo, who is fighting better than I expected given his injury. I think we are just starting to see what Ryuden is capable of.

Shodai defeats Takayasu – Takayasu is a complete wreck this basho. He seems to have neglected the superior lateral mobility that Shodai brings to nearly every match, and finds his forward pressure against Shodai’s chest instantly transformed into a tumbling move into thin air.

Asanoyama defeats Goeido – Good sumo today from Goeido, but Asanoyama was better. Congratulations to overcoming both an Ozeki and an Ozekiwake to take the cup! His only losses where to hard core oshi-power rikishi (Tamawashi and Onosho) who shut down Asanoyama’s yotsu attack. Goeido took him on chest-to-chest, but Asanoyama kept low and focused his power forward.

Tochinoshin defeats Kakuryu – Well, can’t put it off any more. That henka had really no place at this level of sumo. I get why he did it; he’s hurt, he needed one more win to get back to Ozeki, and he thinks he was robbed day 13. He needed one more white star by any means he could get one. Kakuryu should have known this and made him eat it, but Kakuryu is himself at only about 80% genki, and is probably expecting the left hand outside followed by the sky crane. Welcome back to Ozeki Tochinoshin. If you don’t get your body back in fighting shape, you are going to be right back here again by Kyushu.

Day 8 Results – Uwatenage & Henka


Goeido Dispatches Yoshikaze, Remains Undefeated

Day 8’s theme turns out to be Uwatenage – 上手投げ, with a spattering of Henka – 変化. There were some fantastic bouts during day 8 at the Kokugikan, with the top line results being that Goeido is still without a loss, and remains alone atop the leader board. Close on his heels are trio that are still very much in the hunt: Harumafuji, Okinoumi, Endo. All four of these rikishi are performing well this tournament, and any one of them could end up the winner.

In Juryo, Ura managed to win, and Osunaarashi returned from a short kuyjo, but looks to be in horrible condition.

Chiyoshoma defeats Gagamaru – Chiyoshoma got off to a great start, got the big man unbalanced and rolled him like a keg of beer.

Tokushoryu defeats Nishikigi – What a bout! It was part push-fest, part “dancing with the stars” that saw both men on the bales a couple of times. Congrats to Tokushoryu for a great win.

Endo defeats Ikioi – Endo made quick work of Ikioi after Ikioi’s failed attempt at a throw. Both are looking very strong, but Endo stays at one loss and in the hunt for the championship.

Kotoyuki defeats Chiyonokuni – Really sad when a sumotori of Kotoyuki’s skill pulls a henka like that.

Okinoumi defeats Mitakeumi – Solid, exciting match. Off the tachiai, Mitakeumi opened the attack to Okinoumi, and was clearly in charge. But Okinoumi tied him up, lowered dropped his hips and drove Mitakeumi out of the ring for a textbook Yorikiri

Takayasu defeats Takarafuji – Another bout that ended with uwatenage (overarm throw), but began with a lot of strong pushing and working to get inside to grab a piece of belt. As Tachiai reported weeks ago, Takayasu is looking like a good bet to be an Ozeki contender in the year ahead.

Goeido defeats Yoshikaze – Yoshikazu gets started with his traditional flurry of pushes and slaps, but Goeido quickly raps him up. gets a strong grip on Yoshikaze’s mawashi, and forces him out to remain undefeated. With his kachi-koshi now secure, Goeido is no longer kadoban. Tachiai congratulates the Ozeki for a very impressive and dominant campaign to prove he belongs at that rank.

Tochiozan defeats Terunofuji – A fantastic battle that ranged across the dohyo, with each man up against the tawara at least once. Unable to force each other out, the match ended with Tochiozan throwing Terunofuji to the clay. Terunofuji is now in serious risk to returning to kadoban status for the next tournament.

Kisenosato defeats Myogiryu – This was never going to be a tough bout, but it’s a great example of why Kisenosato is the top Ozeki. He not only wins, but his moves and posture are straight from a ukiyo-e woodblock print from the Edo era. Shame his cold start has left him in a tough spot for his Yokozuna push.

Kotoshogiku defeats Kaisei – Disturbing match, it was more or less a Kotoshogiku henka. Going in I had no doubt that Kotoshogiku could dispatch the Brazilian, who has put on too much weight to remain aggressive.  Completely pointless move to duck the tachiai.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyootori – I know Harumafuji provides a valuable service competing against the lower ranked rikishi (it aids their training and skill), but really, I want to see him dismantle some san’yaku. Can we start the week 2 festivities please?

Kotoshogiku Gets Henka’d, Again

I’d venture to say the odds of Ikioi trying that tomorrow are about 2,000,000,000:1. Has Ikioi EVER tried to pull off a henka? I’m serious. If anyone can remember Ikioi trying a henka, please leave a note in the comments. It will be hilarious if he did one in March and I just have terrible memory.

I’m enjoying this tournament a lot so far. No one in the lower maegashira is seriously outclassed and belongs in Juryo. Yoshikaze is definitely under performing. Three tournaments in sanyaku have taken their toll and he’ll probably welcome a little drop in rank. I wonder if there’s a nagging issue with him. The only clearly walking wounded is Terunofuji.

Shodai is the only one who’s definitely punching above his weight but it’s his first time being thrown in with the sharks. The last few tournaments the sanyaku punching bag has been winless through 6. Last tournament it was Takayasu at M1W. In January it was Aoiyama at M2W. In November it was Okinoumi at M1W, Sadanofuji before that M2W. Sadanofuji ended up 2-13 that tournament and dropped into Juryo after garnering a mere 4 wins in the next tournament. The sekiwake through M3 ranks are rough.