Life in Japan, food, music, whatever…

The end of Sumo? 4 February, 2011

Filed under: customs,news — johnraff @ 2:56 pm
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…could be. The TV news yesterday was full of revelations about what police investigating illegal gambling had found on sumo wrestlers cell phone records. Very incriminating stuff suggesting bout-fixing was rife. This comes after a series of scandals over the last couple of years – dope-smoking Russians, the Bad Boy Asashoryu from Mongolia, a baseball betting ring and a young trainee beaten to death – very serious and after the baseball thing last year NHK dropped their live broadcast for a season. This, however, could be the worst yet, in terms of the future of this quintessentially Japanese “sport”.

Is it a sport or a rite? It takes place under an awning like a shrine, and starts and finishes with a lot of ceremony indicating its probable origins. Whatever, these days it still has a lot of fans who expect not to know the outcome of a bout until it’s over, and hold their breath to see who’ll end up the champion this time. Will it be Hakoho yet again? That could be all over. Now it looks as if a lot of results could well have been arranged in advance, wht’s the point of watching? The TV companies will probably agree, and the Ministry of Culture might well cancel sumo’s status as a public body with tax exemptions…

What’s more, there was a lot of money moving around behind the scenes here: so who stood to gain from knowing the sumo results in advance? Presumably betting was going on, with unsuspecting punters being taken for a ride by yakuza, probably. It all looks a horrible mess, and really could be the end of the sport, at least for a while till they get things straightened out, if ever.

Yesterday was also Setsubun. “Out, demons out!”


It’s started 7 August, 2010

Filed under: customs — johnraff @ 2:58 pm
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Along with the cicadas, baseball from a radio somewhere is one of the sounds of Summer here; it started today and there’s nothing else on the TV or radio all afternoon, for the next couple of weeks. I really don’t remember anyone paying the slightest attention to a rugby or cricket match between a couple of schools back in the UK (maybe you could compare the University Boat Race?) but here it’s a big event with elimination rounds all round the country and everyone avidly follows the later matches and gets quite emotional. The losing team (and sometimes the winners too) usually burst into tears at the end. T loves it.


Baseball 24 March, 2009

Filed under: news — johnraff @ 2:45 pm
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I hardly heard of it in Britain, but Baseball’s pretty popular here in Japan, going back to 1872. The BBC hardly mention it of course: following “Sport” to “Other Sport” to “Baseball” you eventually end up with a link to the World Baseball Classic home page, where right now you’ll find that the final is in progress with Japan vs. Korea. These are old rivals – amazingly enough, under the complicated “double elimination” rules of the WBC, this makes the fifth game between them! They’ve had to knock out some pretty powerful other countries on the way – Cuba, Venezuela… not to mention America, but now we’ve got two great teams facing each other, and a great game.

Baseball’s not a bad sport to watch, although football’s up there too, and here we’ve got a worthy final – equal scores at the 9th innings and now into extra time! Japan have just put in two more runs so now it’s down to the young pitching star Darvish (his dad’s Iranian) to hold down the Koreans, who are just as determined to win of course…

DONE IT! Japan have won the World Baseball Classic for the second time in a row.

Now for the High School baseball, which will be on the radio for the Spring, then Summer, tournaments. I get tired of it after a month or so, to be honest, but T. loves it.


Che lives 8 November, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 2:19 pm
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Nagoya Grampus (football) supporters on TV today were waving posters with a picture of Che Guevara and the slogan “Pride of Nagoya”.

Thought you’d like to know.


琴欧洲やったあ! 25 May, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnraff @ 3:14 am
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Hey, Kotooshu (promounced something like koto-oh-shu if you’re an English speaker) finally won a tournament! As a fellow-European I’ve supported Kotooshu, whose Japanese name contains the character for “Europe”, since he started some 5 years ago and rose up to the ozeki rank in record time. Since then, however, some injuries held him back so it’s great to see him beat off the two Mongolians Asashoryu and Hakuho this time.

Sumo, that quintessentially Japanese sport, has long had foreign wrestlers; when I first got here Takamiyama from Hawaii was in the news, to be followed by Konishiki and Akebono. More recently, the two current Grand Champions are both from Mongolia, which seems to have something similar to sumo. Of course Bulgaria, where Kotooshu comes from also has a strong wrestling tradition. I remember an Argentinian called Hoshitango and an American Sentoryuu too…

I just wonder what the more conservative sectors of the sumo world think of all this – it might be nice to have a Japanese Yokozuna (grand champion) too.


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