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
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.
SFM Interview – Kazuyoshi Yoshikawa
to eat. I knew many of them were probably starving watching us so I used to tease them by lifting up my bowl of rice and grinning at them while I ate (laughs).
One day, though, I went too far with one of them. I can’t remember what I did exactly but I angered him so much that he slapped me full force across the face! I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it! He was a professional athlete and I was only a child! On my face was left a big red handprint rather like a tegata. I couldn’t say anything to my father, though, as it had been my fault and I was afraid he would give me a matching one on the other side.
JG – So was your father very strict then?
KY – Actually, no. He was a very kind man. In fact, I think the rikishi in our heya got away with quite a lot. I remember this one young guy; he loved the sumo lifestyle but he hated keiko. Some mornings when he was feeling lazy he would go down to the keikoba, sprinkle water on the dohyo, and roll around so that the sand stuck all over his back and legs. He would then ruffle up his mage to
Mr. Kazuyoshi Yoshikawa is a son of the late Takanobori /
Oyama oyakata. He is also a board member of Hakuhodo DY media partners, Japan’s second largest advertising agency (number 8 worldwide) and the company that staged the Las
Vegas Ozumo tour last October. Despite his very busy schedule,
he was kind enough to make the time to talk about his father
and life in Oyama-beya as a child.
As this reporter’s Japanese ability is sadly lacking, we had to talk mostly in English. While Mr. Yoshikawa has quite good English speaking ability, the interview was conducted in two different languages and on several different occasions over several weeks, so it is paraphrased rather than directly quoted for ease of reading and reasons of space.
John Gunning – Can you tell me a little about your memories of life growing up in Oyama-
Kazuyoshi Yoshikawa – Well, one distinct memory I have is one of the rikishi getting up and heading out for degeiko each morning. You see, up until 1960 when the new heya building was constructed in Higashi Komagata, we all lived in Ryogoku in a building without
a practice dohyo. So about 12 young guys would take the short walk over to Takasago-beya, which was in the same ichimon, and train with the rikishi there. Then they would come back to Oyama and finish their training in the yard of our building.
JG – What was it like being a child around all those rikishi? What kind of relationship did you have with them?
KY – You know, I was only 8 or 9 years old at the time and the rikishi were all much older than me. However, because I was the son of the oyakata and they were trainees, I could get away with doing and saying things to them that wouldn’t normally be possible for a child to an adult. I remember in particular at meal times, the younger rikishi would have to serve us and finish their chores before they were allowed