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SOS - Shinjinrui on Sumo
Chris Gould
Chris sinks his teeth deeper into how sumo can go about pulling in the younger fans in part two of a three-part series.
Azumazeki up close and personal
Steven Pascal-Joiner / William Titus
A wiz with a pen and a wiz with a lens get together with SFM to share their time with Azumazeki Oyakata - Takamiyama as was - with the wider sumo following world.
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda takes a detailed look at the life and times of a former yokozuna forgotten by many - Maedayama.
Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric calls the musubi-no-ichiban kimarite call on nakabi in Kyushu as perhaps only he could.
Heya Peek
Jeff Kennel
First time heya visitor Jeff Kennel wrote about, photographed and even made a video of his time spent at Arashio Beya prior to the Kyushu Basho. All to be found within.
SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews Russian up and comer Wakanoho of Magaki Beya.
Photo Bonanzas
See behind the scenes at the Kyushu Basho, morning training in Arashio Beya through the eyes of an artist and exactly what the Azumazeki lads had to eat halfway though the July Nagoya Basho. All originals, all seen here and nowhere else, and all for you.
Kyushu Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the Kyushu Basho in Fukuoka and throws in some henka sighting results for good measure.
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
The lower divisions, their members and results get the once over thanks to Mikko's eyeing of life down below the salaried ranks.
Hatsu Ones To Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn ponders and puts fingers to keys on the ones to watch come January and the Hatsu Basho.
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest clarification of a handful of sumo's kimarite offers unequalled analysis and in depth explanations.
Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
Howard looks at makushita tsukedashi and what it means in real terms.
Kokugi Konnections
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's bimonthly focus on three of the best sumo sites online.
Fan Debate
Facilitators - Lon Howard / Carolyn Todd
Two SFMers talk over the yokozuna benefiting from weak opposition - or not as the case may be.
SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and sample Stephen's artistic offerings.
Sumo Odds ’n’ Ends
SFM's interactive elements including Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Lets Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Starting with issue #10, the SFM staff will reveal a little of their own routes into sumo fandom - starting with Benny Loh.
Readers' Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last hit your screens.
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

(Shinjinrui on Sumo)

by Chris Gould

sumo frames repulsive. Whereas rikishi may seem shining symbols of strength to older men, they appear cumbersome athletes to younger males who adore K-1 and baseball. Unable to value sumotori in terms of sex-appeal or fighting prowess, and egged on by media increasingly preoccupied with Celebrity, shinjinrui feel bound to judge sumotori on personality. Predictably, they find little inspiration in the brief, monotonous responses uttered by rikishi in post-match interviews, and in the fact that wrestlers negotiate most bouts in an emotional void. They also find it comical when sumotori catch themselves on the rare occasions passion seeks to overwhelm them, pounding the dohyo in nerdy fashion when defeated, and feebly pumping a fist in victory.

Tellingly, the sumotori by far the most popular among shinjinrui is treasured not because of his sumo ability, but because of his flamboyant dohyo personality. Ironically, though, he is the wrestler who most resembles a robot! Nearly every young Japanese has heard of Takamisakari, the man nicknamed Robocop because of a mechanical limp and a tendency to perform the shikiri-naoshi like a malfunctioning robot. It matters not to shinjinrui that Taka will never achieve greatness; the fact that he is bizarre in the ring, and listens to the Beatles outside of it, makes him acceptable enough. Second in the shinjinrui popularity stakes is Kotooshu, but only because his good looks have been compared to those of a footballer, David Beckham. The


In the second of a three-part series, Chris Gould examines the difficulties that young Japanese experience in relating to sumo personalities, and assesses how sumo might address such difficulties.  

On January 22nd 2006, the famed English football club Manchester United toppled their arch-rivals Liverpool with a last-minute goal. The euphoric United defender, Gary Neville, failed pitifully to control himself and celebrated highly provocatively before the Liverpool fans. In a land where football authorities live in permanent fear of crowd trouble, Neville’s actions were heavily frowned upon, and he received a stern reprimand. But Neville’s angry response to his dressing down revealed the large extent to which footballers, and their supporters, thrive on the manifestation of pure emotion. ‘Do they want a game of robots?’ he inquired of the footballing authorities.

Neville’s words are particularly pertinent to present-day sumo. They appear on the lips of Japan’s shinjinrui, the ‘new race’ of under-30s, whenever they contemplate their ‘national’ sport. Shinjinrui are comfortable with Neville-esque outbursts of passion, and identify strongly with footballers, K-1 athletes and tarentos who are prone to them. They are thus deeply frustrated with sumotori who are bound by convention to restrain their 
emotions. They feel short-changed on entertainment when a wrestler chooses to celebrate an adrenaline-pumping victory by trudging meekly to his corner, or when his opponent takes defeat incredibly politely and never queries the referee’s decision.

In shinjinrui eyes, such emotional restraint merely reinforces the image of sumo as a sport which is desperately out-of-touch with the world as they view it. Sad as it seems, young Japanese overwhelmingly perceive sumo as a surreal (if not nightmarish) community, overpopulated with dull, fat people who are obliged to swear allegiance to a redundant samurai tradition, and who are forbidden from driving cars, donning ‘normal’ clothes in public and marrying without their coach’s permission. Shinjinrui appear convinced that whereas top footballers and media personalities are to be fawned over, sumotori are merely to be pitied. (‘The younger ones wipe the older wrestlers’ bottoms, yes?’ said one.) It is these perceptions that the Japan Sumo Association (NSK) urgently needs to shift if it is to disprove allegations that sumo is ‘a game of robots.’

Personality Problems?
Sumo’s lack of emotion is far more irksome to shinjinrui than it was to their parents. Whereas many older women believe in sumotori sex-appeal, younger women generally find blubbery


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