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.
potential to number in the millions, if not the billions, 21st century sumotori on the terebi, are as far removed from their 1950s cousins in terms of connecting with the fans as the first bouts between Kagamisato and Co. were in relation to ukiyo-e being the prime source of sumo publicity back in the Edo era (1603-1867).
Therefore, as the international lingua franca casts its WWW over international coverage of sumo, assimilating Borg-like, in similar form to it having already claimed the Internet as its own, it is perhaps towards the English version of the sport’s coverage that the NSK, via NHK, should be casting their business eye if the world is to be their oyster in the century ahead; for it is only upon the back of this culturally imperialistic language, as some call it, that Ozumo will be carried over peak and down dale as sekitori come and go and the Japanese population continues to dwindle.
Yet, as NHK stands today – nothing appears to be moving in the direction of tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes may be the reason so why change what is not broken? As is, with the English language broadcasts going out from NHK’s main Shibuya studios in south western Tokyo, it is to this icon
of Japanese television that guests from several English language speaking nations head in order to sit alongside and add to the commentary provided by the handful of play-by-play men NHK employs to fill the role during any given honbasho.
The most notable of those taking the main seat at around 3.40pm, although the show doesn’t usually go on air live till 4pm on the BS channel, are Dave Wiggins (interviewed here) and Hiro Morita.
Guest-wise, a range of sumo fans have filled in over the years. Many on a regular basis such as David Shapiro, Katrina Watts of amateur sumo announcing fame (also interviewed here in the last issue of SFM) and Mark Schilling, to name but a few. Others such as the Egyptian ambassador to Japan, the 67th and now former yokozuna Musashimaru and even amasumo enthusiast, Jaroslav Poriz (known to many as ShiroiKuma on Sumo Forum), head of the Czech Sumo Association adding more colour.
So, whilst the English version sadly fails to cover the full 5 hours of sumo daily – the Japanese language BS show starts at 1pm with the sandanme bouts that European audiences at the very least
would kill to see – the 1½ hours offered are more than welcomed by the fans capable of NHK subscription overseas.
The problem there is that of the nations represented on the broadcast side of things, the U.S. stands head and shoulders above the rest in total number of guests and play-by-play men and women. A couple of British guests form the token European contingency and Australian Katrina Watts, along with the New Zealand born editor of the now rarer than raw Sumo World, add a touch of Oceania to seemingly varied and interesting proceedings. Note the use of seemingly!
Thing is – the proceedings themselves oftentimes follow too set a routine in terms of guests, their regurgitated comments and the usage of those many fans around the globe would rather not listen to, as postings on the respected Internet forums would seem to indicate. Not to mention that some of the guests we receive into our homes were around when the first televised basho went out live!
With this angle in mind, and having read an online comment by one NHK play-by-play man (concerning the then-possibility