Sumo's Foreign Invasion
Sumo - still Japanese or truly International?
Rikishi of Old
A look at a rikishi of yesteryear with Umegatani II our man for June
John attends asageiko at Takasago-beya to give us the first of his bimonthly looks at sumo's stables
Kurt Easterwood & Quinlan Faris
Kurt & Quin treat us to some of the best sumo pics around - and seen nowhere else
May Basho Review
Lon Howard & John Gunning
Lon gives us his Natsu Basho summary and his take on upset of the tournament while John chips in with his 'gem' of the basho
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko provides his round up of the boys in Makushita and below at the Natsu Basho
July Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Nagoya Basho banzuke while Mark previews the ones to watch next time out
Barbara Ann Klein
Rhyme and reason behind the pre-tachiai rituals that mystified us all as beginners
Mikko walks us through A, B & C
John's unique view of news from outside the dohyo
Las Vegas Jungyo Teaser
Months away but like kids at Christmas we are still too excited not to mention it
Hear from the founder of Guess the Banzuke (GTB) on exactly what makes it tick
Le Monde Du Sumo
The original team at MDS tells us how it all started
Heya Links Galore and a focus on 3
JR & EB square off: Right or Left - which should Asashoryu use when receiving kensho?
Let's Hear from You
What was it that made you a sumo fan?
Question of the month - What is Sumo?
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho's banzuke
JR: When and how the tegatana came to be has little bearing on whether it is a tradition or a ritual. Forget left-hand/right-hand, let the Yokozuna, or any rikishi for that matter, simply take the kensho without doing the tegatana, and see how great the outcry is. The tegatana is certainly a real tradition; I really don’t think this can be denied. In the end, though, what the debate boils down to is that the Yokozuna Deliberation Council has say over a Yokozuna’s promotion and his behavior. If the YDC decides that it’s more fitting for a Yokozuna to perform the tegatana with the right hand, then that is how it must be. It is within their purview to make such distinctions, just as it is within their purview to say the Yokozuna should retire by whatever criteria they may set. That is their job. I certainly don’t always agree with them, but that matters as much as whether I agree with the Kyokai’s stance on kyuujo or koushou. They get to set the guidelines, and the Yokozuna must abide by them. That is the trade-off for being free from demotion, the price for being at the top of the mountain.
EB: As JR indicates, the YDC does have a role to play but theirs is one of a purely advisory nature on promotion issues and the like. For that reason, I don’t feel there is an ‘in-stone’ trade off for being at the top of the mountain – just a case of letting the yokozuna know what they feel and looking at how he’ll respond. It boils down to being his choice on issues such as these. Indeed, the lack of any real power can be seen in the
After the Haru Basho last year, YDC member Makiko Uchidate expressed her dismay over Yokozuna Asashoryu’s regular use of the left hand when receiving kensho. She exclaimed that tradition ordains using the right hand and equated his action to a woman standing on the dohyo in high heels. Soon the fur was flying -- right and left -- between her supporters and detractors, and the debate continues to some extent; so we asked two of our writers to share their contrasting opinions. Supporting tradition on the right is Josh Reyer (JR) and on the left, promoting flexibility is Eric Blair (EB).
LH: So Josh, what difference does it make which hand is used to receive kensho?
EB: Good points mentioned by JR in relating to the military or other aspects of sumo mentioned above. That said, and coupling it with the introduction’s mention of ‘women on the dohyo’ by Ms. Uchidate herself, - these points are REAL traditions handed down over the generations in form and practice, as traditions must be. In that lies they key to the whole situation as far as I am concerned. The usage of the right hand with its 3 ‘cuts’ can hardly be called a tradition or a ritual for the following reasons: (A) It first appeared as the personal gestures of an ozeki in the early Showa Era (1926-1989) and caught on as a fashion if nothing else – a la Kitazakura imitating Asashoryu’s swinging hips as he wraps up his pre-tachiai preparations. (B) It later, the 3 cut technique alone, and only in the relatively recent 1960s was included as a procedure to follow when accepting victory; by the then Rijicho, the former Futabayama. No mention of which hand to use was at that time, or since, ever officially included or referred to, and the sumo association historical records / museum staff can themselves find no reference to ‘right is right’ when asked.