The NHK World sumo team is brining us another 30 minute preview show, just before the much anticipated 2018 Hatsu Basho. Past episodes have featured insightful commentary, and in depth views of star rikishi. For sumo fans, it’s a can’t miss broadcast.
As with the rest of the NHK World line up, you can stream the program via a wide variety of mobile, set-top and web platforms.
Thursday, January 11th: 11:30 PM Eastern / 8:30 PM Pacific (5:30 AM UTC)
Friday January 12th: 3:30 AM Eastern / 12:30 AM Pacific (8:30 AM UTC)
Friday January 12th: 11:30 AM Eastern / 8:30 AM Pacific (4:30 PM UTC)
Friday January 12th: 5:30 PM Eastern / 2:30 PM Pacific (10:30 PM UTC)
Many Tachiai readers will be familiar with John Gunning’s work, be it his insightful articles for The Japan Times, his presenting and analysis of sumo for NHK, his venture Inside Sport Japan, or from the many other places that he has provided expert analysis over the years. We’re happy to say that we’ll be meeting up with John during the upcoming Hatsu-basho in Tokyo, and will be sharing the contents of that conversation in a first-of-its-kind interview feature here on Tachiai after the tournament.
As such, we’d be happy to include questions for John from the wider Tachiai community. As John has profound experience in, and understanding of the sumo world, it’s a great opportunity for Tachiai readers and commenters to pose a question for analysis, or learn more about his experiences and great moments in his career in sumo (or even his own action in the dohyo!). Obviously we can’t guarantee we’ll get to every question, but we’re hoping to include as many Tachiai reader questions as possible! Leave your questions on the comments section of this post and we’ll bring them along.
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.
Photo above is from the Japan Times article, and likely taken by John Gunning
In his second article for the Japan Times, noted sumo personality John Gunning looks at the increasing number of rikishi who only have one Japanese parent. These men are able to join sumo as Japanese and don’t count against each stable’s quota for a single foreign born athlete. The “One Foreigner” rule was put in place in an effort to keep the sport from being flooded with Mongolians, who at a time looked to be taking over the sport.
John’s article covers a lot of ground, all of it quite interesting to a sumo fan. He also devotes some space to covering Wakaichiro, which will help raise his profile in the sumo community. I must admit, that it seems that Wakaichiro is already doing a decent job of doing that himself, as he is personable and quietly charismatic.
By extension this means that the preview video that is airing today on NHK World is available on demand now via the web site. The preview turned out really well, and includes a great Hakuho retrospective. Note Hiro’s remarks about Yoshikaze – his mobility and how he uses his feet being a essential element of his sumo.