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To tide fans over until next month’s Nagoya Basho, a catch-up on sumo reading material from the JT:

  • “I’ve been working toward that, and I’m one step away. I will be giving everything I have,” ozeki Terunofuji said, speaking in the wake of last month’s victory about the hallowed rank of yokozuna, and the extreme effort it has taken to get where he is now.
  • Foreign rikishi hold “entertainer” visas, and looking back at the thrills of the last basho, it’s not hard to see why, writes John Gunning. He also argues, counterintuitively, that in fact, the ancient sport is perfect for today’s world of quickfire, on-the-go media consumption.
Shonannoumi (right), seen during a bout on Jan. 26, 2018, suffered a concussion during the New Year Basho that sparked widespread calls for change. | KYODO
Shonannoumi (right), seen during a bout on Jan. 26, 2018, suffered a concussion during the New Year Basho that sparked widespread calls for change. | KYODO
  • Yokozuna? Ozeki? What about yokozuna-ozeki? Gunning takes readers through lesser-known, archaic aspects of sumo, including the elaborate ranking system and a rare three-part ceremony that had only taken place 24 times since the Meiji Era.
  • When sumo goes through a crisis — like the current rash of serious injuries — the voices calling loudest for needed change are often those from abroad, writes Gunning. Whether the Japan Sumo Association hears, or cares, is another matter.
  • Usually, sporting legends and myths are harmless fun. That’s not always the case in sumo. The lack of info in languages besides Japanese gives falsehoods staying power, hindering foreign fans’ ability to understand what’s really going on, explains Gunning.

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