Brothers in Sumo –
part two

Brian Lewin
Brothers still active on the dohyo get their turn

Yokozuna Comparisons
Joe Kuroda
SFM’s most eminent historian, JK, has a crack at the impossible and tries to see who was the greatest of the tsuna wearers

Rikishi of Old
John Gunning
Takanobori – former sekiwake, former NHK man and all ’round gent

Heya Peek
Barbara Ann Klein
Kitanoumi-beya, Kitazakura, mirrors & photo bonanza

SFM Interview
John Gunning
Kazuyoshi Yoshikawa (son of the late sekiwake Takanobori) on life in sumo way back when

Sumo 101
Barbara Ann Klein
Behind every good man there stands a good woman – read and ye shall see. A departure from our regular 101 feature

Photo Bonanza
See the Hatsu Basho
plus much more through the lens of our photographers

Hatsu Basho Review
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Hatsu Basho summary, along with the henka sightings results

Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila covers lower division goings on in detail

Haru Basho Forecast
Pierre Wohlleben & Mark Buckton
Pierre predicts the Haru Basho banzuke while Mark highlights the ones to look out for in Osaka

Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko takes us on a tour of his chosen kimarite

John McTague
John’s unique bimonthly view of sumo news from outside the dohyo and in the restaurants!

Online Gaming
Alexander Nitschke
SFM’s own Alexander Nitschke covers the long running Hoshitori Game

Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Todd’s bimonthly focus on 3 of the most interesting sumo sites today

Fan Debate
Feb's debate sees
a pair of Kiwis exchanging opinions on the honbasho going on the road

SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In the third of our cartoon bonanzas, sit back and enjoy BL’s offerings and put a caption to ST’s pic to win yourselves a banzuke

Let’s Hear From You
What was it that
made you a sumo fan? A unique perspective from a sightless reader.

Readers’ Letters
See what some SFM
readers had to say since our last issue

Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

  Fan Debate:

Facilitated by Lon Howard

ozumo closely and attended at least one day of each hon-basho in Tokyo during that time. Since then, he has followed afar via satellite TV and the internet, but has been fortunate to be back in Japan on occasions for research in the last two years.

Lon Howard: Dean, since you are in favor of shaking things up regarding this issue, tell us what there is to gain by moving the location of some of the hon-basho.

Dean Gutberlet: This is a very good question. The popularity of sumo is slumping in Japan and the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (NSK) is notorious for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ as it were, inflexible at implementing strategies to regain support and make sumo more appealing to the younger generation. Many people would say this is the essence of sumo – its traditions and its stubbornness to change with the times. They would say leave well enough alone, but one has to ask, “Is it well enough?” I believe it is not. To some extent this idea of resisting change is what makes sumo unique, however, some small changes are needed to ensure the continued popularity and support of sumo in Japan.

One of these changes is moving the location of some hon-basho

Recently, as the popularity of sumo has continued to decline in Japan, there has been much talk over what can be done about it, or even if anything should be done. Some say sumo is just going through a cyclic lull and that rocking the boat invites disaster; while others say the times are a’changing and sumo must be pro-active and re-invent itself in some ways. In December, two fans butted heads here over the suggestion that rikishi from the same heya should be allowed to face each other on the dohyo during hon-basho. In this issue, two of them will tug with each other over another idea being floated – that being whether or not it would be good to move some of the hon-basho out of the cities that traditionally host them, and into different locales. Let’s meet the friendly combatants:
Dean Gutberlet is a New Zealander residing in Nara, Japan – the birthplace of sumo, and feels that sumo would be better served if some of the hon-basho were held in cities that don’t host them now. He has been closely following sumo for six years since coming to Japan to live, but the spark that ignited his sumo flame started in New Zealand around 1990 while watching a sports TV show featuring ex-ozeki Konishiki, known to the audience as “Sally the Dump Truck”. Dean remembers being much more impressed with the yokozuna Chiyonofuji than with Sally though, and it was easy to rekindle his interest when he moved to Nara in 2000. From Nara, he makes his annual
pilgrimage every March to Osaka to see the Haru Basho.

Howard Gilbert is a New Zealander currently completing his PhD thesis at the University of Auckland on the globalization of amateur sumo, particularly its spread to Europe and Oceania He remembers seeing sumo on Japanese TV as far back as 1987 and is sure he watched the same programme on New Zealand TV as Dean did! However, Howard really began following sumo when he spent a year in Japan in 1993, amidst the Waka-Taka boom and the scowling game face of the first foreign yokozuna. It was after a nearly two-year period in Japan from late 1998 that Howard began following
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