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.