NHK & the Ozumo
A visit to NHK, years of watching the show and the opinions of our Ed-in-Chief
Hanging With the Rikishi
Barbara Ann Klein
Barbara Ann Klein recounts her experiences with the “boys” in a pictorial diary series
Sumo Exhibit at the
Barbara Ann Klein
SFM’s Editor takes in the exhibit celebrating 80 years of the Japan Sumo Association at this famous Tokyo museum
What a collection – All-Japan Sumo Tournament, Hakkaku-
beya visit and sumo exhibits at the Edo-Tokyo Museum
Kyushu Basho Review
Lon gives us his Kyushu Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results, and his take on the year in brief
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila covers lower division ups and downs
Eric explains all you need to know and then some about the Kokugikan building – the mecca of sumo
John’s unique bimonthly view of news from outside the dohyo
For the lowdown on Guess the Kotomitsuki – baby of SFM’s John Gunning
Todd’s bimonthly focus on 3 of the most interesting sumo sites today
In the second of our cartoon bonanzas, sit back and enjoy ST’s offerings
Let’s Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? American Todd Defoe tells all
See what SFM readers had to say since our last issue
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.
kesho-mawashi, replicas of dohyo or other items I had seen (or not) on display in the Sumo Museum in the Kokugikan? Well, yes, a little of that, but certainly nothing like the over 75 objects that had obviously been so lovingly culled through to capture the atmosphere and the dynamism, the excitement and the pathos of the sumo community from its virtual beginnings during the Edo era.
From the illustrated precincts depicting the location of the Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine (three stops after Ryogoku Station on the Oedo line), where every basho was held for close to 150 years during the Edo area, and the Hachiman Park, which features the yokozuna memorial built in 1895 by the 12th yokozuna Jinmaku Kyugoro, to the tabi worn by Raiden to photos of the devastated Kokugikan and its occupation by the U.S. Army during World War II, each and every item is a revelation that mere words could never adequately describe.
Unfortunately, there is no English-language guide to the temporary exhibits, so I have repeated here just three selected narratives provided by Curator Tanaka-san when my computer crashed without my being able to recover my own visit notes:
Beginnings of Yokozuna and the Tomioka Hachimangū Shrine in Fukagawa
Tomioka Hachimangū in Fukagawa (also known as Fukagawa Hachiman) is known to this day as a shrine associated with kanjin sumō (sumō matches held for raising money for repairing the shrine, etc.). In 1648, the bakufu (shogunate) prohibited kanjin sumō for the reason that they instigated fights. However, in 1684, it approved sumō matches by professional rōnin wrestlers as a means to clearly distinguish them from outlaws and to keep them under control. The popularity of sumō was certainly an important factor for the revival of the matches, and in 1684, the first tournament after the revival of kanjin sumō was held at Eitaiji, a temple affiliated with Tomioka Hachimangū. Thereafter, Tomioka Hachimangū flourished as one of the sites for kanjin sumō through the mid-
Edo period. It was during the match held at Tomioka Hachimangū in 1789 that Tanikaze Kajinosuke and Onogawa Kisaburō were conferred the title of yokozuna from Yoshida Zenzaemon, a vassal of the Hosokawa family of Kumamoto domain. The Yoshida family had claimed itself as the representative
family of sumō, whose head had for generations been named “Yoshida Oikaze”. In 1900, yokozuna Jinmaku Hisagorō, upon his retirement, founded a monument for yokozuna wrestlers at this site, on which the names of yokozuna have been inscribed. Today, the new yokozuna inscribes his name on the wrestlers’ monument upon his first entrance of the ring. In this way, yokozuna and Tomioka Hachimangū have always been closely associated.
Ekōin and the Grand Sumō Tournament
The Grand Sumō Tournament at Ekōin was first held in 1768, but it was during 1781-9 that Ekōin became a central stage for the tournaments. With the development of the main street on the east and west banks of Ryōgoku Bridge and the streets in front of Ekōin, Ryōgoku became the busiest amusement district of Edo, and sumō matches, too, came to be held at Ekōin. From 1833 onward, sumō tournaments were regularly held there and the schedules for and descriptions of spring and winter annual sumō tournaments held at Ekōin in Ryōgoku could be seen in Tōto saijiki (Glossary of Seasonal Terms in the Chronicle of the