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John Gunning

For John Gunning's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Ticket sales brisk despite Takanoiwa scandal

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Dec 12, 2018

Ticket sales brisk despite Takanoiwa scandal

Once again, sumo finds itself embroiled in a violence scandal. It is of course depressing that the sport can't seem to get out of its own way, but perhaps these problems are a side effect of the transition from a hidden world to one where ...

Change in stable can revive wrestlers' careers

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Dec 5, 2018

Change in stable can revive wrestlers' careers

Takakeisho, winner of this year's Kyushu tournament, was pictured alongside his stablemaster on Nov. 26 holding up a large red sea bream and drinking sake from an outsized trophy at a celebratory event. While there was nothing noteworthy in the scene itself — such parties ...

Takakeisho's victory may herald rise of new generation

Sumo | INSIDE SUMO Nov 28, 2018

Takakeisho's victory may herald rise of new generation

Takakeisho's victory in the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament made him the third wrestler to lift a maiden Emperor's Cup in 2018. Sumo hasn't seen a breakthrough on that scale in nearly two decades. Not since Musoyama, Takatoriki and Kaio triumphed in January, March and May of ...

Sumo 101: Illegal moves

Sumo Nov 25, 2018

Sumo 101: Illegal moves

Prior to their first live experience, many people are under the impression that sumo is a plodding sport in which two overweight men slowly try to force each other backward in a straight line. That illusion is always shattered within minutes of first sitting down ...

Sumo 101: Ring-entering ceremonies

Sumo Nov 24, 2018

Sumo 101: Ring-entering ceremonies

A normal day of a sumo tournament starts around 8:30 a.m. and ends just after 5:45 p.m. From the silent early morning atmosphere, with just friends and family of wrestlers watching the bouts and talking in whispers, to the raucous packed-out arena where fans roar ...

Sumo 101: Wrestlers' clothing and footwear

Sumo Nov 23, 2018

Sumo 101: Wrestlers' clothing and footwear

Sumo is a world where success or failure in the ring has direct and tangible effects on a wrestler's life. The more you win, the better your situation becomes in many ways. One visible sign of how well a rikishi is doing is what's on his ...

Sumo 101: Museums

Sumo Nov 22, 2018

Sumo 101: Museums

It's no surprise that sumo, an activity hundreds (possibly thousands) of years old, has several museums solely dedicated to its history. What is surprising however is just how small the official Japan Sumo Association one is. Tucked away inside Ryogoku Kokugikan the museum consists of a ...

Sumo 101: Keiko (training)

Sumo Nov 21, 2018

Sumo 101: Keiko (training)

Amateur sumo is a sport and nothing more. Participants lead lives away from the ring and its governing body has long-standing aspirations to one day be accepted into the Olympic Games. Professional sumo, on the other hand, is a lifestyle. Wrestlers are never off the clock. ...

Sumo 101: Gyoji

Sumo Nov 20, 2018

Sumo 101: Gyoji

Sumo referees are arguably the most elaborately outfitted arbiters in the sporting world. The brightly colored kimonos they wear in the ring provide a dramatic contrast to wrestlers clad only in mawashi. The intricateness of the attire, which is based on traditional clothing, increases as gyoji ...

Sumo 101: Ozeki

Sumo Nov 19, 2018

Sumo 101: Ozeki

Yokozuna are the stars of sumo. Always in the spotlight, they get the lion's share of column inches. Rightly so, given that only 72 men have ever attained the rank. And yet, yokozuna wasn't always the sport's highest position. For most of sumo's history, ozeki was its ...