Nagoya Nears
Eric Blair
As Nagoya nears, EB gets a head start on the pack by focussing on points of interest, past and present surrounding sumo's hottest basho

Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
The 42nd yokozuna Kagamisato falls under the JK microscope

Heya Peek
Barbara Ann Klein
Kokonoe-beya and the Chiyo Boys

SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
SFM's Ed-in-Chief interviews Estonian up and comer Baruto

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
SFM's Editor looks at all the twists and turns involved in the tsunauchi-shiki and adds a photo bonanza to boot

Photo Bonanza
See the Natsu
Basho and Kokonoe-beya photo bonanzas

Natsu Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Natsu Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila lets you know what is going on down below the curtain

Nagoya Ones to Watch
Mark Buckton
MB's mixed bag of things to look out for in Nagoya

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Our man Mikko takes us on a tour of several defensive oriented kimarite

Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
The first of our regular column pieces on the amateur sumo scene from a man who knows more than most

Sumo Game
Bruce Rae
For a look at his very own: PTYW (Pick The Yusho Winners)

Sumo in Print
Barbara Ann Klein
SFM's Editor reviews the newly published biography of Akebono, Gaijin Yokozuna – but sees it as more than just a biography

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Check out Todd's bimonthly focus on 3 of the WWW's best sumo sites around

Fan Debate
Facilitator – Lon Howard
Sumo author Mina Hall and long long time fan Jim Bitgood discuss how to make sumo more entertaining – if such a concept is even necessary

SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
Sit back and enjoy the offerings of sumo's premier artists

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that
made you a sumo fan? James Vath in rural Japan lets us in on his gateway to the sport

Readers’ Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last went out

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

  Fan Debate:
Make Sumo More
Entertaining – Yea or Nay

Facilitated by Lon Howard

continues to visit the training stables and writes sumo columns in print and on the internet.

LH: Jim, you seem to feel that, because it is losing it's fan base, sumo needs an injection of entertainment. First of all, why does anything like this need to be added, and can you give us some examples of what you mean?

JB: The word ‘entertainment’ as I'm using it here is defined broadly, but the bottom line is that sumo's fan base is aging and dying off, and younger fans are not coming in to replace them because they don't see many people having fun with sumo. Those older fans didn't need to be ‘entertained’ but today's younger ones are more demanding because they have many more choices about how to spend their free time.

The attraction has to start outside the dohyo. From what I saw in my most recent three years in Japan (1997-2000), the Kyokai needs a serious education in sports merchandising and licensing. Would you buy a yukata/T-shirt/
baseball cap with your favorite rikishi's name on it? I would.

Recently, our Fan Debates have shared a common theme because they've centered on ideas to re-energize fan interest in sumo. We've discussed same heya bouts, moving the hon-
basho to other cities and reducing the number of hon-
basho, among other things. This issue, we continue on the same road by having Jim Bitgood and Mina Hall share divergent thoughts on the idea of infusing sumo with a dose or two or three of some modern-day entertainment. We're not sure how radical he'll get, but Jim feels the timeless mix of rite and sport needs a measure or two of cutting edge promotion, while Mina says sumo wouldn't be sumo if it went down that path. First of all, we are grateful to both of them for the time, thought, and energy they've put into this endeavor. Now, let's find out something about them.

Jim Bitgood first saw sumo on TV in 1966 while stationed with the U.S. Air Force at the Yokota Air Base, and says Taiho is still
one of his favorite all-time rikishi. His copy of Sumo – The Sport and the Tradition (6th printing, 1964) dates from that time. After the Air Force – during and following college – he was able to follow sumo only sporadically but discovered the Sumo Mailing List in 1992 and so, has been able to follow sumo closely since then. Now living in Laurel, Maryland, Jim says he is forever grateful to the Air Force for not letting him select his overseas assignment 40 years ago because Japan was not on his list, and he would probably never have discovered sumo if given his own way.

An all-conference tennis player while majoring in Japanese studies, Mina Hall is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. While living and working in Japan, she became friends with several champion sumo wrestlers. She is the author of The Big Book of Sumo: History, Practice, Ritual, Fight published in 1997 by Stone Bridge Press. She
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