<DATE> Contents

Attention to Akeni
Carolyn Todd
SFM's newest addition to the writing staff takes an in-depth look at akeni, their history and production techniques
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda slides former yokozuna Minanogawa under his SFM microscope
Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric's wit scythes through the SML and makes clear his opinion of where the future lies for online sumo forums.
Eternal Banzuke Phase II
Lon Howard
Stats, equations and mathematics all lead to a list of sumo's most prolific up and downers
Matta-Henka: Another View
Lon Howard
A row that will never be fully decided but Lon gives his impressions on it all the same
Heya Peek
Mark Buckton
Mihogaseki, former home of Estonian sekitori Baruto is toured (and peeked at) by SFM's Editor-in-Chief
SFM Interview
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews shin-komusubi Kokkai
Photo Bonanza
See the Nagoya basho and Akeni photo bonanzas
Nagoya Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon gives us his Nagoya basho summary, along with the henka sightings results
Lower Division Rikishi
Mikko Mattila
Mikko Mattila casts his watchful eye over lower division goings on in makushita and below.
Aki Ones to Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn takes over the job of rikishi job performance prediction for SFM as she looks at those to keep an eye on come September
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Our man Mikko's latest trio of kimarite get thrown about the SFM literary dohyo
Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
Howard returns with the second of his columns on the amateur sumo scene.
Sumo Game
SFM's very own quiz comes in for a bit of self scrutiny by our secretive man of questions. We'll call him 'X'.
Sumo in Print
Barbara Ann Klein
SFM’s Editor reviews “The Little Yokozuna”, a book for “young” (and older) adults
Kokugi Connections
Todd Lambert
Check out Todd's bimonthly focus on 3 of the WWW's best sumo sites
Fan Debate
Facilitator - Lon Howard
Keri Sibley and Eduardo de Paz  ponder the concept of ‘to pay or not to pay’ makushita salaries
SFM Cartoons
Stephen Thompson
Sit back and enjoy the offerings of one of sumo's premier artists
Lets Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? SFM’s own Todd Lambert details his path into sumofandom
Readers' Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last went out
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself next basho’s banzuke.

Let's Hear From You!

What Made You A Fan?

by Todd Lambert

coming across the site of one of the temporary sumo-beya, I couldn’t help but again feel the contrast between all the costumes, color, and commotion of what I’d seen on TV, and the Spartan nature of this training place.  One of sumo’s many contrasts worked its way into my consciousness.

Fast forward to a year later.  1998 found me living and working in Japan, and being able to watch every day of every basho live on TV, as well as catch the late night highlights shows.  If I couldn’t be home for the action, I could tape it and watch it after work.  And lo and behold, although I was living far from the center of the sumo universe (Tokyo), the big men did come to a town near me (Nagoya) once a year for a honbasho, as well as passing through every June for a one-day exhibition tournament.  There was the dohyo- iri at Atsuta Jingu, Ise Shrine sumo – opportunities abounded.  I began using my vacation time to make trips to Osaka to catch the March tourney, and then to Tokyo as well for winter and fall action.

At the 1999 Nagoya basho, I happened to sit in a box seat next to a man belonging to the Sadogatake- beya supporters’ association.  After cheering for many of the same rikishi, and sharing a few cold beverages, he invited me to watch asageiko with him the following day.  Then, the chance to have chanko with the boys, and chat with them.  If I hadn’t been hooked on sumo already, that would have done it.  The opportunity of the average fan to view the daily lives of the sumotori, to see all the hard work behind the scenes, and the closeness of the action and the spectators at the tournaments themselves, that was something I wasn’t used to from professional sports I’d watched in the past.  This is how I began devoting a fair chunk of my free time to sumo appreciation and fandom.


Each issue of SFM, We’ll ask one of you
to tell us something about you and sumo.
Think you have something readers would like to know?
Write our letters section!

I first took real notice of sumo in the spring of 1997.  I was in Japan for a month’s vacation to visit a relative and a friend, and the Haru basho was held during that time.  At first, I noticed it while watching the nightly news broadcasts on the English sub-channel.  It was a far cry from what I remembered seeing on TV in Canada – brief bits on late night sports wrap-up shows, designed to emphasize the odd and the humorous, with a lot of jokes about nearly naked fat guys slapping at and dancing with each other.

My first impression when watching the NHK news highlights was that these were fights - I was watching actual fights.  This was definitely not the farce I had been led to believe.  The guys were huge, and they were really going at each other.  The next thing I noticed was the speed.  This wasn’t some sort of careful cat and mouse game, with opponents dancing and prancing about while trying to size the other guy up.  These guys charged in straight away, and usually finished the fight in a matter of seconds.  And the venue:  fighting in a dirt ring surrounded by rows of fans in rising tiers.  It looked so cozy, so intimate, so…exciting!

I found myself looking forward
to seeing the tournament results every night on the news, and recognizing some of the names. 

First to make impressions were the Hawaiian giants – Konishiki, Musashimaru, and Akebono.  Also the Hanada brothers; this was, after all, near the height of Waka-Taka fever.   I didn’t catch very much of the ritual aspect at this time, highlight reels tend to edit out that sort of thing.  Maybe an especially exciting bit may slip by, like Big Salt (Mitoizumi) and his routine, or a Konishiki nirami.  But by and large it was the fights, the torikumi themselves that got me hooked.

During the basho, the whole nation seemed to be sumo crazy.  Stopping for a late lunch or early supper at a restaurant, we’d invariably notice sumo on the ubiquitous corner TV.  Walking through a department store or Akihabara one would notice all the TVs tuned to the NHK daily sumo broadcast, and all those not too busy stopping to have a look at the young superstars dominate the dohyo.  Even a visit to Kamogawa SeaWorld found us in mock bouts with the whale mascots.  Sumo was fun, sumo was cool, sumo was a national passion – it was everywhere.

While watching these bits of live sumo whilst out and about, I couldn’t help but start to notice
all the ritual and pageantry associated with the professional sport.  The paradox of simplicity and splendor definitely increased my interest.  Passing through Osaka after the basho, and


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