<DATE> Contents

SOS - Shinjinrui on Sumo  
Chris Gould
Wrapping up his look at increasing the popularity of sumo, Chris Gould caps a series the NSK would do well to refer to.
Sumo Souvenirs  
Mark Buckton
Souvenirs are a part of every sport and sumo is no different - or is it? A look at collectibles and the downright trashy, the bona fide versus the unproven.
Rikishi of Old  
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda's latest look at times past focuses on former makunouchi man Dewagatake.
Eric Evaluates  
Eric Blair
Eric takes a no-nonsense look at the claims of fixed bouts in the Japanese media.
Rikishi Diary  
Mark Kent
Mark Kent - English pro-wrestler and amateur heavyweight sumotori - takes us through the first month or so of his training and preparation for the various European events lined up in in 2007.
Heya Peek  
Chris Gould
SFM's Chris Gould was in Japan for the Hatsu Basho and popped along to the new Shikoroyama Beya to give SFM an online exclusive peek into sumo's newest heya.
SFM Interview  
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews Mark - Buckton on Kent that is as Mark Kent, the UK's only active heavyweight amateur answers a few questions on his own recent entry into the sport.
Photo Bonanzas  
Sumo Forum stepped in to take the weight off the shoulders of SFM as far as Hatsu went so we could sit back, relax, enjoy the sumo and take a few more select pics you won't see anywhere else.
Hatsu Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the Hatsu Basho and chucks in a few bits on the rush of henka that threatens to sully the good name of at least one foreign ozeki.
Sumo Menko  
Ryan Laughton
Sumo cards of old brought to life by expert collector Ryan Laughton. None of your BBM here.
Haru Ones To Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn ponders and puts fingers to keys on the ones to watch come March and the Haru Basho.
Kimarite Focus  
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest look at sumo's kimarite offers unequalled analysis and in depth explanations.
Amateur Angles  
Howard Gilbert
Howard looks at the 'sumo factory' of lore - Nichidai.
Kokugi Konnections
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's bimonthly focus on three of the best the WWW has to offer.
Fan Debate
Facilitator - Carolyn Todd
Moti Dichne comes back for more and takes on Bradley Sutton on the subject of 'Modernize the heya - yea or nay?'
SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and sample Benny's artistic offerings.
Sumo Odds & Ends
SFM's interactive elements - as always includes Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Let's Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Ryan Laughton - sumo fan and menko expert reveals all.
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 a genuine banzuke.

(Shinjinrui on Sumo)

by Chris Gould

for the NSK would be much more pleasant if all tournament seats were sold.

Central to the phenomenon of empty seats are, of course, Japan’s under-30s. Although the term ‘shinjinrui’ (‘new race’) has gradually absented itself from Japanese social commentary, I have applied it to the Japanese youth of today because their outlook on life – and, to a lesser but significant extent, sumo – is indisputably different to that of previous generations. The previous two essays have explored many theories as to why shinjinrui take little interest in Japan’s ‘national’ sport, but could it simply be the case that there are basic structural barriers (financial, geographical, logistical and organisational) that prevent shinjinrui from joining in the fun?

Expensive entrance fee?
‘It’s not that I don’t want to come to sumo,’ says Hiroshi, a 25-year-old air steward. ‘I’ll admit it’s hard to get to bouts during the day, but the thing that puts me off most is the high price of tickets.’

My shinjinrui interviews confirm that Hiroshi speaks for many of his peers. The most common reason youngsters give for not attending sumo is the cost of tickets. In the words of the sumo journalist Liliane Fujimori: ‘The prices are pretty high, and… people with modest incomes will, without doubt, pass up the chance to watch live sumo and remain content with [watching] televised broadcasts.’

The cheapest ticket for a Tokyo basho is a ‘day pass,’ which is priced at around ¥2,100 ($17.50). However, few shinjinrui are


In the final essay of the trilogy, Chris Gould looks at the structural barriers which – by all accounts – appear to be preventing Japan’s under-30s from enjoying sumo.

January 10th 2007. Another weekday, another 45%-full Kokugikan. A despondent Englishman, who has briefly departed the arena for a photo engagement, fails to suppress his inner feelings when greeted by his favourite Kokugikan usher. ‘Konde imasen, ne?’ (‘A crowd, there is not, eh?’), the Englishman complains, in Japanese most charitably described as ‘pidgin.’ A nearby oyakata, doubtless itching to break up the monotony of guidebook duty, overhears my remark and offers a response. ‘He says: “Wait until the weekend. Then the crowds will come,”’ is the usher’s English translation.
Sure enough, the weekend comes and so do the crowds; the man’in rei (full house) banners are lowered on both the following Saturday and Sunday. But my seeds of doubt continue to germinate. I spend a large portion of Day 8 contemplating just how the Japan Sumo Association (NSK) – with a payroll encompassing hundreds of wrestlers, oyakata, officials, guides and clerical staff – can possibly remain solvent with average daily gates of 6,000. If a professional football club, cricket club, rugby team or – dare I say – the Lawn Tennis Association found itself in a similar position, it would be bankrupted within a month. I am no more blind to the vital financial assistance provided by koenkai, kanemochi and other private sponsorship than I am to the presumably limited capacity of these donors to keep bailing sumo out. I simply feel that life

Another busy day in the Kokugikan - Carolyn Todd


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