Brothers in Sumo –
part one

Brian Lewin
Brothers no longer active on the dohyo come under the SFM microscope

NHK & the Ozumo
English Broadcast

Mark Buckton
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

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Chiyonoyama – our man for December

Sumo Exhibit at the
Edo-Tokyo Museum

Barbara Ann Klein
SFM’s Editor takes in the exhibit celebrating 80 years of the Japan Sumo Association at this famous Tokyo museum

Heya Peek
John Gunning
John’s early morning trip to Hakkaku – a visit that almost didn’t happen

SFM Interview
Dave Wiggins sits down
with SFM’s Mark Buckton to discuss the broadcast scene – and maple syrup

Photo Bonanza
What a collection – All-Japan Sumo Tournament, Hakkaku-
beya visit and sumo exhibits at the Edo-Tokyo Museum

Kyushu Basho Review
Lon Howard
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
Mikko Mattila covers lower division ups and downs

Hatsu Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark
Pierre predicts the Hatsu Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch for in January

Sumo 101
Eric Blair
Eric explains all you need to know and then some about the Kokugikan building – the mecca of sumo

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko walks us through his chosen kimarite in expert fashion

John McTague
John’s unique bimonthly view of news from outside the dohyo

Online Gaming
Eric Blair
For the lowdown on Guess the Kotomitsuki – baby of SFM’s John Gunning

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s bimonthly focus on 3 of the most interesting sumo sites today

Fan Debate
Intra heya bouts –
OK or not? See what our debaters had to say

SFM Cartoons
Stephen Thompson
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

Readers’ Letters
See what SFM readers had to say since our last issue

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

Kyushu Basho Wrap-Up

by Lon Howard
His seventh consecutive yusho struck down the standard set by Taiho, and of course, now he alone has won all yusho in a calendar year. And oh, bye the bye, it was his 15th career yusho, putting him in 5th place all-time, paced only by Taiho, Chiyonofuji, Kitanoumi and Takanohana. As almost everyone knows by now, he is only 25 years old with no known injuries and infinite potential – but we also said that about Takanohana (I hope I haven’t placed a spell). There is an urge to attempt to place Asashoryu’s monumental accomplishments in some kind of broad historical perspective but there are two obstacles: space limitations (this is a basho summary) and the fact that he overwrites history faster than one can absorb itů perhaps later.

A note about Kotooshu: In my memory, no rikishi chasing ozeki has entered a basho under a larger microscope than he did this time. There was mishing about his alleged inability to get his nerves and psyche in check under pressure, and then mashing about his responses to questions about it. Then his demeanor and body language were assailed. That he neutralized this cauldron to accomplish his goal was not only astounding, but also

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Everyone knows about the three marquee stories in Kyushu 2005 – Yokozuna Asashoryu set three major records, sumo’s senior statesman Kotonowaka retired and Sekiwake Kotooshu made ozeki. In a stunning example of how supreme Asashoryu has become in the eyes of most fans, his reach for a triple crown during Kyushu was roundly upstaged by Kotooshu’s quest for ozeki. Few doubted the yokozuna would claim his record-breaking seventh consecutive yusho with the necessary 13 wins to break Kitanoumi’s mark for most wins in a calendar year, and in the process become the first rikishi to win all of the year’s yusho. There was just the bothersome formality of having to wait two more weeks to write the story.

Since most had also penciled in Kotonowaka’s intai, Kotooshu was left to absorb the bulk of the scrutiny on his own, and when he was spun down by Kakizoe on Day 1, the sound of the air escaping from the Fukuoka Kokusai Center was even heard over the air waves. Disappointment hung in the air like the odor from days-old overflowing ashtrays – first
Kotomitsuki, then Wakanosato, and now another phony lure from Kotooshu! A 3-1 record after Day 4 had done little to reignite expectations because the three wins included a fusen-sho, a leg grab and a soft henka-like tachiai. From there on though it was all straight ahead, get the belt and march him out/swing him down sumo with losses sprinkled in on days 7 and 10. His driving yoritaoshi win over Asashoryu on Day 13 unlocked the door to the ozeki quarters and when he followed up the next day by marching out Ozeki Chiyotaikai for his 11th win, he closed that door behind him. The twin demons of Stress and Duress he reportedly couldn’t subdue were slain, replaced in part by the twins known as shukun-sho and kanto-sho. His loss to an ozeki’s henka in senshuraku’s penultimate bout had faded from view by the time Kaio offered the chikara-mizu to Chiyotaikai for the musubi-no-ichiban.

The loss to Kotooshu was the only shady spot on Asashoryu’s hoshitori and his 14-1 mark gave him 84 for the year, shattering Kitanoumi’s record.
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