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.

Sekiwake Takanobori. “The Raiden of Shinshu”

by John Gunning
Takanobori (a combination of the characters for “climb” and “high”).

Almost immediately upon his entry to the sport, Wataru was being touted as a potential ozeki or yokozuna. He gained the nickname “Raiden of Shinshu” (an old name for the area that includes modern day Nagano prefecture) and had such speed and strength, especially when achieving his favorite migi yotsu grip, that he was able to “yori” almost anyone out of the ring. Even when he was still only in the lower ranks, people were often heard to comment that he displayed “ozeki-like sumo”.

Takanobori’s strength and ability enabled him to ascend the ranks rapidly. He took just four and a half years to reach makuuchi after his “hatsu dohyo” in January of 1927. It should be remembered that there were only four basho a year at that time, so the actual number of tournaments needed was just 16, and that included one missed entirely through injury.

Even upon his arrival in the top division, there was no slowing down for Takanobori. His first two tournaments in makuuchi

Recruitment into the world of Ozumo happens in a variety of ways. Many Japanese wrestlers come straight from high school or college sumo, whilst the Europeans are often scouted at international amateur meets such as the International Sumo Federation World Championships (covered in Issue 3 of SFM). The Mongolians, so numerous that they are entitled to their own category, often arrive in Japan on a personal recommendation, and some, like Asashoryu attend high school in Japan before making the jump to the professional ranks.

In days of old however, recruitment was a different story. Many rikishi joined sumo literally as a means of survival, the free accommodation and food overriding any concerns about the hardship of the life.

Of course, even in those days there were regional sumo competitions where promising young lads were often noticed by an oyakata or someone close to a heya.
The subject of this article, however, is probably the only rikishi ever to enter sumo as a result of winning a bicycle race. Wataru Yoshikawa was 18 years-old when he took part in a cycling competition in Ida city, central Japan, in 1926. The race was going well and Wataru was leading when disaster struck and his bicycle broke. Showing the never-say-die spirit that would serve him well later in his sumo career, he acted in a flash, picked up his bike and ran, carrying it the rest of the way. Incredibly, he managed to stay ahead of all the other competitors and crossed the finish line first – an achievement made even more stunning when you remember that bicycles in the 1920’s were not the lightweight carbon fibre machines they are now, but monsters made of steel and heavy rubber.

Takasago oyakata who was on a jungyo tour to the area at the time, heard of this amazing feat of strength and promptly recruited Wataru into his heya, where he was given the shikona
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